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

Is it normal for a cat to have only one kitten

A question often asked by cat lovers and pet parents is, “is it normal for a cat to have only one kitten?

When cats go into labor, many pet parents are delighted because new members are about to come to the family. Many have confessed to be blissfully expecting three or four kittens. Others agree that whatever the case, 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 even quite expected.

If you have panicked and think that there might still be another kitten inside the cat’s tummy, you should take her for a quick ultrasound procedure 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 will deliver after the 57th day, and others will deliver after the 67th day. After that, she will provide her kittens healthy and strong.

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 that 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 a shocking wonder, too.

Nursing mothers will eat up to three kittens if she indeed lacked enough nutrients and is 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 had recently given birth to a big litter a few months ago, then she immediately got pregnant again (let’s say in a span of fewer than five months), she might lack 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. She will use anywhere between 65%-75% of her nourishments to ensure successful embryo development.

2. Cat Breed

Different cat breeds produce different litter sizes. Some breeds 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 all the time.

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 that are adapted to the environment of stay.

3. First Timers And Age

It is quite 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 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 immediately starts to develop to form the fetus. Some of the fetus will fail to make it to the beginning of the pregnancy successfully. The fetus will then be reabsorbed into the mother’s body to help develop a successful fetus.

If she was 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 will determine how its body works. In most cases, for a cat that has given birth to one kitten, it could be the fact that her body was designed to facilitate the successful delivery of one kitten. It could also mean that the male species that was present 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. From its sleeping pattern to feeding habits, you need to be well-informed.

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 she is nursing, make sure that her bedding is free from not only cat fleas but 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 likes 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 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 go ahead and feed your cat natural foods that are rich in protein, calcium, and phosphorus, i.e., milk, meat chunks, bread, and fish.

Canned cat foods that have high levels of phosphorous 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 go for birth control methods to ensure the cat does not produce any more kittens at a certain age.