How many kittens can a calico cat have?


Calico cats are such joyous little creatures in their owner’s life. They have multicolored patches on their coat, and their breed could vary since calico means a colored coating of the cat’s coat. However, how many kittens can these cats have? This article will talk about how many calico kittens there can be.

We will also talk about what color a calico kitten would have and how genetics are responsible for this phenomenon. We will also discuss how many kittens can give a cat actually birth- calico or not? Keep on reading below to know more about it.

How many kittens can a calico cat have?

Since a calico cat is just a normal breed cat with colored orange, black and white patches, their kitten would depend on the genetic expression. There is no such different phenomenon of having calico kittens. However, calico cats might express their “calico-ness” with the presence of the X chromosome.

Because calico cats are just general cats, they can have up to four to eight kittens for every litter, even though there can be smaller and larger litter groups. If a female cat mates with many male cats, the cat can also give birth to different fathers. The genetic expression on the entire kitten would be different and with different characteristics. 

Let us talk about what determines the number of kittens a cat would birth:

  • When cats do mate, they release more eggs than usual. Therefore, the size of the litter would depend on how many times the female cat mates with the males.
  • The presence of certain infections such as Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV) and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) can stunt the birth of kittens and produce stillborn kittens.
  • Some genes are predisposed to have small litters, therefore, fewer kittens.
  • According to popular studies, some tailless cats can also give birth to four kittens out of which only one would survive.

What color kitten will a calico cat have?

Cat Learns to Dance
Cat Learns to Dance

It is widely known that calico cats are usually female because of double-dosed X chromosomes. They are about 99% female calico cats with X chromosomes expressing the tricolor of the calico cats. 

The XX-chromosome is responsible for expressing such colors; therefore, if a cat’s gender is female, they are more likely to be calico. However, if a calico male is involved in the reproduction process, it is rare to have all the colors together since males have XY chromosomes. Therefore, a male calico cat kitten would only get a single color because of only a single X-chromosome.

Because of the anomaly, only one male calico cat is born for every 3,000 calico cats. Calico cats are known to have originated from Egypt, whereas the orange gene’s origin is from Mediterranean spots like Spain etc. 

Do calico cats have calico kittens?

Usually, calico cats are female because of the double X chromosome or the XX chromosome. The chances of having a male calico kitten are rare as it is considered an anomaly. The genetics of calico cats is tricky since the presence of male calico cats is rare.

However, if a calico kitten mates with normal breed cats, calico patterns are highly likely. However, if you breed a male calico cat with a female calico cat, having all three colors is rare. The science behind this is that the X chromosome is responsible for the color gene, and a male cat has an X and Y chromosome. Therefore, breeding through a male calico cat gets tricky because of the chances of having an X chromosome recede.

Therefore, calico cats will have calico kittens only when a female calico cats mates with any other cat of any breed.

Frequently asked questions

Q1. How many cats are there in a cat litter?

There is usually one to 9 kittens present in a litter. However, these are the extreme amounts there can be. Usually, you would find at least 4 to 6 kittens in a litter. As soon as birth is complete, the mother turns to her kittens to feed them and protect her litter closely.

Q2. Can a cat have just two kittens?

Normally, a cat would birth up to 4 to 6 kittens in a litter as it is quite normal to see small or very large litters. However, some kittens could be still born or might not survive after their birth due to abnormalities and infections. So yes, they can have just two kittens too.

Q3. Do cats eat their kittens?

Yes, this rarely ever happens, but it does happen. Every time a cat is malnourished, she will eat her younger one to get its nutrients. They usually feed on the placenta. If the cat is underweight and malnourished, she might feed her entire litter with no guilt whatsoever. 

Q4. Can a male cat recognize their kitten?

Yes, male cats can recognize their offspring. When the male cat takes over an area, they will kill the younger ones so that the female cats mature faster and mate to produce their little offspring.

Q5. How many kittens can a cat have?

Most unsprayed female cats have at least three to five kittens; however, the feline cats would have from one to almost ten kittens. Therefore, the birth of kittens would depend on the breed.

The Bottom Line

Calico cats are only normal cats with different breeds but multicolored patches on their coats. Calico is not a breed but a color pattern. Therefore, according to their breed and other determining factors, a calico cat would have kittens. Calico patterns have nothing to do with the birthing of kittens.

However, a calico cat would have calico kittens only when the female cat’s birth because they have double X chromosomes. Calico male cats have XY chromosome that decreases the chances of having all three colors because of a single X chromosome.

Therefore, a calico cat will have a kitten according to their breed, and a calico kitten would only be born if female calico cats birth these kittens.

Amelia Kteylor

Amelia Kteylor, DVM, attended the University of Georgia. She is a cat expert with 20 years of experiences in field. She has a passion as a writer and editor for pet publishing industry too. Amelia contributes to numerous pet magazines in the areas of pet health and groom. Further, she volunteered in cat rescue centers in her leisure time.

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