Friday 5 November 2021

What is the largest litter of kittens?

This is a Guinness World Record for the largest litter of kittens born to a domestic cat. It happened in Kingham, Oxfordshire, UK on August 7, 1970. A Burmese/Siamese hybrid owned by V. Gane gave birth to 19 kittens. Four were stillborn. That is all we know. Technically it is possible that a larger but unreported litter has been born but we'll never know.

Burmese kitten
Burmese kitten. This kitten has nothing to do with the record. This charmer is here to illustrate the page, no more. Photo: Pinterest.

A female domestic cat can give birth to anywhere between 1 and 10 kittens normally. The 19 of the record is, on the face of it, unique. An average litter consists of 4 or 5 kittens.

Mel and Fiona Sunquist in their excellent book Wild Cats of the World state that the record is 13 kittens. I am afraid they were incorrect. Their book was published in 2002. 

New-born kittens weigh about 90-110 grams at birth. This is 3 percent of their mother's body weight.

Normally the weights of individual kittens declines as the litter size increases.

Kittens are born with their eyes closed. Very rarely kittens are born with teeth. Usually they are born without teeth. They have poor hearing but a good sense of smell and touch as they are able, within an hour of birth, to find 'their' nipple and begin feeding. They return to their dedicated nipple which avoids arguments. Brilliant system to create calm and better feeding.

ASSOCIATED PAGE: 12 facts about the domestic cat purr

The kittens purr to their mother while feeding to say all is well. The mother responds likewise. It is their first purr signifying contentment. Many more will come in a good home.

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