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Can a Litter of Kittens Have Multiple Fathers? Superfecundation Explained

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

persian kittens

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Dr. Lauren Demos

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Cats can come in litters of anywhere from one to nine kittens. Momma felines have a big job to do once their babies are born, whereas daddy cats tend to take a backseat role when it comes to parenting. However, males do play a huge role in the types of babies that a female cat might have. Multiple males can impregnate one female, which can result in her having babies with different fathers. You might be wondering how this could happen and the odds of your female cat having multiple males’ babies. Here is what you need to know.

The Process Is Called Superfecundation

A female cat does not release any eggs from her ovaries until she mates with a male. Once mating takes place, eggs will start being released. This process of releasing eggs can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days. If a female mates with more than one male, the sperm of those males all have a chance of fertilizing the eggs once they are released. Each egg could be fertilized by a different male’s sperm. If this were to happen, each kitten born would have a different father!

female and male british shorthair cats lying on the floor in mating period
Image Credit: Georgy Dzyura, Shutterstock

Superfecundation Is Not Common

Even though it is possible for a litter of kittens to have multiple fathers, the phenomenon is not common in either the household or the breeder world. Most household feline pets are not allowed to roam free outside, especially when they are in heat. Therefore, if they do become pregnant, it’s usually from a male that also lives in the household. Breeders typically take great care to only allow one male to breed with a female cat during any given heat cycle. Outdoor stray cats are most likely to give birth to babies with different fathers. That said, we don’t know how prevalent superfecundation is on the streets.

How to Keep Your Cat From Having Multiple “Baby Daddies”

Superfecundation is not common among cats, so you may never have to worry about the situation. That said, there are a couple of things that you can do to make sure superfecundation does not happen if you are worried about it. First, consider having your kitty spayed. This will eliminate the possibility of them getting pregnant at all, which is a good idea if they are allowed to roam outside, even if only occasionally. There are also so many cats in need of homes already. Second, if you do not want to spay your cat because you plan to breed her later, do not let her go outside or spend time around males whenever she is in heat.

Three kittens in a cat carrier
Image Credit: guvo59, Pixabay

Here’s What Happens If Your Cat Ends up Having Multiple “Baby Daddies”

If your cat does happen to get pregnant by more than one male in one heat cycle, her kittens may have different coat colors and patterns. The kittens will likely still look alike, but they could develop different personalities based on the genes and temperaments inherited from their fathers. Otherwise, you won’t notice any difference between a kitten litter with one father or a litter with several.

Final Thoughts

It’s true that a litter of kittens can have different fathers. Superfecundation is not common, but it is known to happen. The difference between a litter from one father and a litter from multiple fathers is usually just that the kittens have different coat colors.

Featured Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

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