Whether you’re owned by feline littermates or are just curious about how kittens learn about the world together, here are 5 fun facts about cat siblings.
Do you have some cat siblings at home? This Siblings Day, discover some fascinating facts about feline brothers and sisters and share the sibling love by sending us photos of your littermates on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!
Dotty and Moose having a cuddle
The largest litter had 19 kittens
Typically when a mum cat gives birth she will have between four to six kittens, but in 1970 one cat in Oxfordshire, UK gave birth to 19 kittens in one go! Sadly, four of the kittens were stillborn, but the poor mum still had 15 hungry mouths to feed! Let’s hope she was neutered after that ordeal!
Lily and Lou posing for the camera. Credit @lily_and_lou_the_rescues
Littermates can have different fathers
Some litters may contain half-brothers and half-sisters as it’s possible for kittens from the same litter to have different fathers. This can happen when female cats mate with more than one male over a short period of time, getting pregnant more than once to produce one litter.
Siblings can be a variety of colours
Jack and Bailey surveying their kingdom. Credit @jackandbailey1
Male kittens always inherit their fur colour from the mum, so brothers are likely to be similar colours. However, female kittens will inherit a combination of their mum and dad’s colouring, so their coats can vary from their sisters’, especially if they have different dads! To find out more about why cats are different colours, read our blog.
Littermates learn from each other
In their first few months of life, kittens will learn a lot from their brothers and sisters. One of the key things they practice with their littermates is how to hunt and play, which is why you might see kittens wrestling with each other. It can sometimes look a little aggressive, but as long as they’re taking equal turns to chase and pounce on each other, then it’s a great way for them to learn new skills.
Alba and Diego having a stretch and snooze. Credit @alba_and_diego
Siblings don’t always get on
If you have multiple kittens from the same litter, you might assume they will have a lifelong sibling bond, but this isn’t always the case. Cats don’t reach social maturity until they are between 18 months and four years old, so even if they get on when they are young, this may drift apart as they grow older. For tips on how to help your sibling cats get along, read our blog.
For more help and advice for understanding cat behaviour, visit www.cats.org.uk/behaviour