Is It Normal For A Cat To Have Only One Kitten?

Is it normal for a cat to have only one kitten

Cat lovers and pet parents often ask, “is it normal for a cat to have only one kitten?

When cats enter labor, many pet parents are delighted because many new members are about to come into the family. Many have confessed to being blissfully expecting three or four kittens.

Others agree that the arrival of a bountiful litter would be overwhelming. However, this is sometimes not the case.

A cat can go into labor and give birth to one kitten. Giving birth to one kitten is perfectly normal. But, this is a case that is not often observed.

Cats usually give birth to anywhere between 1 and 10 kittens. Others can even produce up to 12 kittens at a go. But the average number of kittens produced is usually 4.

When your American Bobtail Tuxedo cat or Abyssinian cat has given birth to 1 kitten, it’s quite expected.

If you have panicked and think there might still be another kitten inside the cat’s tummy, you should take her for a quick ultrasound or x-ray.

In this article, our expert team will explain why it is perfectly normal for a cat to have only one kitten.

Understanding A Cat’s Pregnancy

The gestation period for a cat is approximately 62 days.

Some cats deliver after the 57th day, and others deliver after the 67th day. After that, as a kitten parent, you have to provide the kittens with healthy meals and training sessions before they mature.

You need to understand that first-time birth mothers will usually give birth to a few kittens. Still, one kitten is usually a normal thing.

Is It Just 1 Kitten, Or Did The Mother Eat The Rest Of Her Litter?

You might think your cat gave birth to one kitten after discovering her nursing hideout under the bed. Later you realize that she had eaten her two other kittens a few minutes after delivering.

Eating kittens is not an incredible wonder In the cat world.

Nursing mothers can eat up to three kittens if they lack enough nutrients and are malnourished.

Also, she will eat her kittens if she feels that her litter faces a threat. Mother cats have an instinct to take care of their kittens.

If she has given birth and thinks that they will not survive under the available conditions, like lack of food or threat from other cats and dogs, she will eat her litter immediately after they are born.

Some cats eat their stillborn kittens. This is a normal phenomenon and should not shock you.

Scientific Reasons As To Why A Cat Can Give Birth To Only 1 Kitten

Different scientific reasons explain this phenomenon:

1. Sudden Conceiving

When your cat recently gave birth to a big litter a few months ago and immediately got pregnant again (let’s say in a span of fewer than five months), she might lack the physical resources to carry a bountiful litter.

Experts believe that after conceiving, a cat’s health changes significantly. They say that her body will not be functioning to its full capacity.

Cats use between 65%-75% of their nourishment to ensure successful embryo development.

2. Cat Breed

Different cat breeds produce different litter sizes.

Some species have been known to produce up to 10 kittens, while others will only deliver one kitten. However, this can change, and it is never the case.

The Persian cat breeds usually deliver smaller litter sizes, while the domestic short-haired cats have been known to produce up to 10 kittens at a go.

A cat breed, just like other animals, will depend on the country of origin. Every continent and country has cat breeds adapted to the stay’s environment.

3. First Timers And Age

It is normal for first-time mothers to produce one kitten in their litter.

For the first-timers, nature will take its course, and the cat can produce a few kittens.

Also, old cats will most likely have one kitten at a go. This is because of natural causes or health-related reasons.

4. Unsuccessful Fetus Development

After fertilization and conceiving, the cat’s embryo develops to form the fetus.

Some fetuses fail to make it to the beginning of the pregnancy successfully. The unsuccessful fetus is reabsorbed into the mother’s body to help develop a successful fetus.

If she were meant to have two kittens, the mother would probably have only one when this happens.

5. Genetics And Chromosome Conditions

Chromosomes and genetics play essential roles in determining pregnancy in all mammals. Genetics can also cause altered congenital disabilities in cats as well.

The genes in a cat determine how its body works. In most cases, for a cat that has given birth to one kitten, it could be that her body was designed to facilitate the successful delivery of one kitten.

It could also mean that the male species in the fertilization process had altered genes.

For most cats, she will give birth to a single kitten at one point but deliver up to four kittens the next time she conceives.

In matters of chromosomes, cats have 19 chromosome pairs. This includes 18 autosomes and the sex chromosome pair X and Y.

Females have 38, XX, and males have 38, XY.

These chromosomes can alter cell division in cats and cause birth-related complications like fertilization and implantation.

After Your Cat Gave Birth To 1 Kitten, What Should You Do?

When your cat has given birth to 1 kitten, everything changes. It would help if you were well-informed about your sleeping pattern and feeding habits.

Make sure that her health is continuously being monitored. Ensure that she feeds correctly, nurses her one-day-old kitten, and stays in a clean environment always.

Almost all cats (95%) like to stay in a clean environment. When nursing, ensure that her bedding is free from cat fleas, dust, and fur. Replace her bedding once or twice a week, depending on the conditions.

The chances are that your cat will not like her canned food after delivery.

Monitor her behavior and decide whether she wants raw human food like fish, milk, or meat. If she does, ensure that she eats well.

Cat Having Only One Kitten? – Quick Facts

  • A cat that has delivered one kitten should have a nice sizeable clean nesting box.
  • The nursing box should always be well-ventilated and free from cat fleas. This enables the kitten to nurse healthily.
  • After delivery, cats like foods that are rich in proteins
  • Cats spend 70% of their lives sleeping

What Is The Survival Rate Of A Single Kitten?

The chances of a single kitten surviving depend on the care it receives after birth from the human owner and the cat’s mother.

If neglected, the kitten’s chances are low, and it might die a few days or weeks after birth. However, when properly taken care of, a single kitten can survive and grow into adulthood.

As a cat owner, if your cat gives birth to a single kitten, it is advisable to keep in contact with a vet for checkups, vaccinations, diet planning, and monitoring of the kitten.

What Should You Know About Feeding A Nursing Cat Mother?

Even if your cat has produced one kitten or ten kittens at a go, you need to make sure that the diet changes for the mother.

In fact, after giving birth, mama cats need plenty of high-quality canned cat foods. These canned cat foods are rich in all the nutrients a nursing mother would require to produce enough milk.

However, without the availability of canned food, you can feed your natural cat foods rich in protein, calcium, and phosphorus, i.e., milk, meat chunks, bread, and fish.

Canned cat foods with high phosphorous levels should not be recommended for nursing cats.


If your cat has had one kitten, do not be stunned. From the feeding habit to the cat’s upkeep, this article has outlined how perfectly normal it is for a cat to deliver one kitten and why it often happens.

If she delivers one kitten, it doesn’t mean that there is a health risk. However, most pet parents use birth control methods to ensure the cat does not produce more kittens at a certain age.