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As of 2021, the estimated number of domestic cats in the world stands at 220 million while stray cats total about 480 million, says Wikipedia. Cumulatively, there are approximately 700 million cats roaming the face of the earth.
When you look at these numbers one question comes to mind: just how fertile are our feline friends?”
Well, the answer is, very fertile. Like rabbits, cats reproduce so efficiently that if there was no spaying and neutering, they would fill the earth in the blink of an eye.
To know more about the sexual life of a female cat, we have a guide that answers the question of the number of times a kitty gets pregnant in her lifetime.
When Do Cats Start Reproducing?
According to the VCA Hospitals, a female cat reaches the age of sexual maturity at about six months. This is the time she will have her first estrus (heat) cycle.
Some reach there quite early – at four months while others wait until they are 9 months old.
Those around mature, intact toms or those that spend most of their time outdoors become sexually mature faster than indoor kitties or those that are not always around unneutered males.
If you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘kittens giving birth to kittens” it refers to kitties that reach sexual maturity at four months or less.
A 4-month old cat is still a baby. It is hard to imagine that she can mate and get a litter of her own. Yet, it does happen more than we care to think about.
How Many Times Does A Cat Get Pregnant In A Lifetime?
If left alone, a pregnant cat will get pregnant an average of three times in a year. Some get litters up to four times a year.
Let’s do some math here…
The lifespan of a cat is about 15 years. Now multiple 3 by 15. You will get 45. This is close to the number of times a cat gets pregnant in a lifetime. Of course, the frequency depends on the individual cat.
In the wild, cats rarely make it past their 10th year. Predators, a low supply of food, and other dangers shorten the feline lifespan.
For a cat that lives for only 5 years, the number of pregnancies will come down to 3×5 which is 15 times only.
Going further, cats average four kittens per litter. This means that if your kitty lives to be 15, she will get about 45 x 4 =180 kittens in her lifetime. Talk about fertility!
Cats that are notorious for giving birth to 10-kitten litters can take the number of kittens reproduced in a lifetime to a whopping 4500!
If you’ve been wondering why there are so many cats in the world, now you know why. Our feline friends are baby machines!
Factors Affecting Fertility
The number of times your cat will get pregnant is a determinant of several factors. These include the following.
1. General Health
A queen of good health will bear larger litters with healthy kittens.
Unfortunately, some cats have all kinds of problems including abnormal reproductive cycles, failure to mate successfully, pyometra, calicivirus, herpes virus, leukemia virus, environmental stress, fetal chromosomal abnormalities, and more.
A cat with these infections and diseases will get pregnant fewer times than her healthy counterparts.
2. Mating Opportunities
It’s not a guarantee that when a cat goes into heat, she will automatically mate. Sometimes she is not allowed to actually meet her suitors.
Those that get to mate every single time they get into estrus will reproduce better than those that don’t get the opportunity.
3. Vet Care
The care given to a cat before, during, and after pregnancy determines the number of times she gets pregnant in her lifetime.
A kitty that is well-taken care of will give birth quite frequently than the one that doesn’t have the same vet care.
Do Cats Get Into Menopause?
From our calculations above, it is clear that cats keep reproducing well into their death beds.
That’s right—these creatures never really reach menopause. However, like all creatures, fertility slows down after a certain age.
For cats, things take a dip after their 8th year. This is according to Tahoe Daily Tribune which claims that feline fertility peaks between 1-5 and 8 years.
After 8 years, a kitty may not be the effective baby machine she was in her hey-days. This means most kitties may not reach the 45-mark as far as the frequency of pregnancy is concerned.
But then again, others will go way and above it. It really all depends on the individual cat.
If given a chance, she will reproduce so fast and efficiently that she will blow your mind.
Of course, if you are not ready to breed, spay the cat and help reduce the problem of cat overpopulation.
Hi! I am Eleanor Price. I started this website after my cat, Louie, almost died from a case of botulism (a type of food poisoning often caused by bacteria that grow on food items). Turned out that my cat’s diet was the problem. I have made it my duty to provide the best information and recommendations about everything cat lovers need to know about their felines’ health and wellbeing. My goal is to find the most informative content on anything feline-related and share it with fellow hardworking kitty lovers.
Disclaimer: While I ensure that the advice and tips given here are in line with the latest evidence-based veterinary information and health guidelines, under no circumstance should you misconstrue my suggestions as medical advice. Please contact your veterinarian in all matters regarding your kitty’s health.