Gestation Times for Cats

People ask: how long cats are pregnant? It depends on the species of cat. Gestation times for cats varies considerably. The feline gestation period is the length of time from conception to birth. I refer to a large number of wild cat species as well as the domestic cat. Domestic cat pregnancy averages just over nine weeks. This is 65 days. There is considerable variation. Normal pregnancies last between 58 and 72 days. If the pregnant female is stressed she may delay birth for several days.

Pregnant F2 Savannah cat -- Gestation times for cats
Pregnant F2 Savannah cat. Photo: Michael Broad. Location: A1 Savannahs. OK, USA.
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Below is a list of wild cat species and their respective gestation times in days:

  • African Wildcat 58
  • Canadian Lynx 61
  • Sand Cat 61
  • Indian Desert Cat (Asiatic Wildcat) 62
  • Bobcat 63
  • Fishing Cat 63
  • Domestic Cat 65
  • Jungle Cat 66
  • Leopard Cat 66
  • Black-footed Cat 67
  • Jaguarundi 67
  • European Wild Cat 68 (63-68)
  • Northern Lynx 69
  • Caracal 71
  • Serval 73
  • Tiger Cat (Kodkod) 75
  • Geoffroy’s Cat 75
  • Ocelot 75
  • Clouded Leopard 88
  • Cheetah 92
  • Puma 93
  • Leopard 96
  • Snow Leopard 99
  • Jaguar 101
  • Tiger 103
  • Lion 110

All these cats are discussed on this website.

Gestation times for cats extends for larger cats

The gestation period of humans is 266 days (average 280 days). This is a day short of nine months. Gestation times for cats vary considerably.Why is this? One expert, Thayer Watkins of San Jose State University, says that the gestation period depends upon the animal’s size. Asian elephants have a gestation period of 645 days. Dogs have a gestation period of about 60 days. This is similar to domestic cats. Gorillas have a gestation time of 257 days. For baboons it is 187 days.

The size theory appears to apply to the wild cats. The top three wild cats by size have the longest gestation periods. It takes a longer time for a big animal to grow baby then a small animal. They take longer to grow because they are bigger. It’s a matter of scale.

If the dimensions of an animal are doubled it has eight times the volume. Therefore it has eight times the weight.

Note: a tigress’s pregnancy can last for about 103 days so there is variation. She may have from 1 to 7 offspring. In Nepal the average size of litter was 2.98. In zoos the average litter size is 2.8. In Nepal most births take place between May to July. There is a minor peak in December. Most Siberian Tiger litters are born in the spring between April and June. Tiger cubs are born blind and helpless. They weigh between 785 to 1610 grams.

Domestic Cat Gestation

The onset of sexual activity in female domestic cats is controlled by photoperiod. The main breeding season is in early spring in the North, in mid-January in Italy and in February-March in Sweden. Females can be inseminated by up to 10 different males. Some litters have more than one father. Domestic cats normally have two litters a year. Towards the end of the 65 day gestation period the female searches for a safe place to deliver her kittens.

Sources: Cat World, a Feline Encyclopaedia by Desmond Morris and Wild Cats of the World by Mel Sunquist and Fiona Sunquist.

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