Those fluffy, cuddly, attitudinal creatures that we love so well are quite an astonishment, when you think about it. Most mama cats have up to 9 babies in a litter. You go, girls.
We’ve got some pretty incredible stories of feline mama’s lined up. But before we get to those, and educational piece is up to bat. Don’t worry, you’ll enjoy this.
Most of us humans reach puberty sometime in early adolescents (you remember those awkward middle school years, right?). Female cats, however, generally become sexually matured by age 6 months. Starting those middle school years early!
Although they are sexually mature by about 6 months, most females are not physically mature yet. Because of this many owners will wait until the female is more physically mature before they begin the breading process. Once they start breading females are dubbed “queens.”
Generally, queens are most fertile between the ages of 2 and 8 years. Litters generally consist of anywhere from 1 to 9 kittens, but it’s rare for a queen to have more than 9 kittens in one litter. Okay, remember that.
On to the good stuff.
Tarawood Antigone: a Burmese Cat From Oxfordhire in the United Kingdom Gives Birth
Picture this: you’re waiting for mama cat to give birth. The big day finally arrives. After kitten number 5, you’re thinking “Okay, that’s probably it.” Imagine how shocked you would be when the kittens just keep coming.
Was Valerie Gane surprised when her four-year-old Burmese mama cat gave birth? She was, after all, a cat breeder. Perhaps she knew to expect more than 5 kittens.
Still, Gane couldn’t have known that her mama cat was about to set the Guinness World Record for most kittens born in a single litter. She had to have experienced just a little bit of a shock at the momentous occasion.
And the World Record Is?
August 7th, 1970, Tarawood Antigone gave birth to 19 kittens – the world’s largest known number (a Guinness World record!) of kittens to be born in a single litter.
In order to understand the magnanimity of this number, remember: the normal number of kittens in one litter is generally around 5 and sometimes up to 9. Tarawood more than doubled the normal amount in a litter. In fact, she almost tripled the normal number of kittens born to a single litter.
Our hats off to you, Tarawood. We salute you. In other words, you are a fantastic feline!
What of those 19 precious fur balls? Sadly, 4 were stillborn. The remaining 15 kittens included 14 males. There was only one female kitten in the entire litter.
This mama took care of 15 kittens. Kittens require their mother for the first couple of months to stay alive. That’s a lot of pressure for Tarawood!
Kittens rely on their mother for warmth, milk, and safety. Mama is also in charge of setting the urination and defecation process in action. Without this care, the kittens would simply die.
Other Notable Breeding Records
Apparently the 70’s was a happening year for the cat population. Aside from Tarawood’s contribution, 7 of the largest single litters were born during the 70’s. Clementine, Tikatoo, Kelly, Bluebell, Spur, Chan-Las, and Percy are some very distinguishable cat moms.
Between them all, they birthed 97 kittens. That’s right, 7 cats and 97 kittens for an average of 13.8 cats per cat mom, in a single litter. Whew!
Clementine, a Moggy Cat From New York Gets Second Place
The mama cat coming in second place to Tarawood was Clementine, one of the cats listed above. Clementine was a New Yorker, living with owners Marc & Natalie Albanese. She was a black moggy.
Clementine’s litter was born the 14th of April, 1976. She gave birth to 15 kittens. However, 4 were stillborn.
There’s no record on how many more kittens Tarawood Antigone bore throughout her life. Perhaps after 19, Valerie Gane decided that was enough. So, what cat mom holds the record for the most kittens born during her life time?
Most Kittens Born to a Single Cat (This Is Going to Surprise You!)
Drum roll please. The honor of most kittens born to a single cat goes to: Dusty! Congratulations Dusty. Do tell us more!
Dusty was a Tabby from good ‘ole Texas. By 1952 she had born 420 kittens. Oh yes, you read that correctly.
We’ll do the math for you. That’s 420 kittens born during roughly 17 years of life, which averages out to about 25 kittens a year. Dusty was a very busy cat mama.
Dusty was born in 1935 in Bonham, Texas. Dusty’s last litter was born on June 12, 1952. She was 18 years old during this time.
Her last litter was her smallest yet. During her last birthing, she produced one small kitten. At 18 years old, we think that’s pretty impressive.
Oldest Cat Mamas
Believe it or not, Dusty was not the oldest mama cat to still be producing babies. That award goes to one Kitty. Yes, that’s her name and wait till you here Kitty’s story.
By this time, she was probably a great-great-great grandma (maybe throw a few more “greats” in there), but she was not done making babies herself! At the astounding age of 30 years old, Kitty had her last litter. We’ll hold here for applause.
Kitty’s last litter consisted of 2 kittens. During her entire life, she produced a total of 218 babies. She lived in Staffordshire, UK with her owner, George Johnstone and she passed away two years after giving birth to her last litter.
Not far behind Kitty’s record was Smutty’s, a tortie owned by Eileen Martin. Smutty produced a small, black and white kitten when she was 28 years-old. Just two years younger than Kitty.
What about young kittens? Do we have any statistics for those? Who was the youngest mama cat to give birth?
Youngest Cat Mamas
Introducing Spur. This mama cat was from London, England and belonged to a Mrs. Grace Sutherland. Spur was only 9 months old when she gave birth to her first litter of kittens.
Spur not only is the youngest known cat to have given birth to a litter of kittens, but she’s also included above in the list of cats that all had considerably large litters in the 70’s. Spur’s litter was born on April 30, 1971. Spur’s story is a sad one.
Spur’s litter included 13 kittens. However, 11 of these babies were stillborn, leaving only 2 alive. Spur was permanently blind after she gave birth to this litter.
Tikatoo the Siamese comes in at second place on the “youngest mothers” list. She was 26 months old when she gave birth to her first, and largest, litter. This litter had 15 kittens.
This also places Tikatoo in the top five of the “giving birth to the largest litter” club. The date was April 25th, 1976. Tikatoo lived in Ontario, Canada with her owner, Mr Laurie Roberts.
Other World Records by Cats
Is it really that surprising that cat’s hold such incredible records? These fantastic creatures have been roaming the earth for an estimated 50 million years. Albeit, they looked much different 50 million years ago, but still.
Cats are known for more than just their prolific breading abilities. Cats hold some of the most interesting (and bizarre) records in history. We’d like to give a few honorable mentions.
Creme Puff, hailing from Austin Texas, is considered the world’s oldest cat. He was born August 3, 1976 and passed away in August of 2005. He was 38 years-old.
Other honorable mentions for age include Puss (1903-1939), 36th. As well as Granpa,
a Sphynx adopted from the Humane Society in Texas. He lived to be 34.
Cat With the Longest Hair
Sophie receives the longest hair award. Her luxurious fur reaches an incredible 10.11 inches long. Sophie lives in Oceanside, California (her owners must have stock in the bissell company, can you imagine vacuuming that fur?)
Most Overweight (Big-Boned?) Cat
Himmy, from Cairns, Queensland, holds the record for cat most needing a diet. Well, heaviest cat, that is: he weighed a whopping 46.8 lbs. Himmy died at the age of 10 due to respiratory failure.
The lightest cat in the world was a Blue Point Himalayan, weighing in at only 1 pound, 8 ounces. His name was Tinker Toy. He was 2 inches tall and 7 and a half inches long, making him about the size of a check book.
Cat With the Most Toes
Most cats have 18 toes. However, Jake from Ontario, Canada has 27 toes! He’s even in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Cats hold records for more than just their appearance! Like Towser, for example. She had a job to do, and she was quite adept at it.
Towser lived from April 21, 1963, to March 20, 1987. During her life she worked for the Glenturret Distillery. Yep, this fierce feline had a real job.
Cat With the Most Recorded Kills
Towser’s position: Mouser. And she is recorded as the best there has ever been. Towser killed a total of 28,899 mice during her life, as well as rats and rabbits.
Has your appreciation and amazement for these creatures risen? It certainly has for us. Felines, you rock.
"In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this."
-- Terry Pratchett