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Superfecundation in Cats

Superfecundation in Cats

by Tracey

Hello fans of PoC. I would like to share with you some pictures of my CPL foster kittens (see below - sorry they aren’t very good).

Right from when I fostered them at 2 days old (with their mom) I noticed there was a huge difference between the smallest and the second smallest when compared with the two largest. The difference became even more apparent as they grew (they are now 7 weeks).

First of all the largest 2 are Black and White and fluffy. The other 2 are Tabby and white and have short curly coats and stubby whiskers. (One is a golden Tabby colour and the other is Dark Grey Tabby) The Dark Grey Tabby has a very short curly coat, very large ears and ridges on the back of his neck. He is also (as you can see from the photo’s half the size of his sibling!).

I’m wondering if a Devon or Cornish Rex has had a sneaky go at mom? Is it possible for a litter to be fathered by 2 separate toms? Or is it that he is just the smallest? I think I could accept that he was just small if it wasn’t for his stubby whiskers, huge ears and tight curly coat!

Fact of the matter is I've never seen anything like them and I wanted to ask if one litter can have 2 fathers. The reason why I ask will be apparent when you see the photos.

They are all adorable but he’s just the funniest little thing!

My friend has 2 Cornish Rex’s and she says that when they are born and even as kittens they are like little aliens, well that’s what he’s like!

Here are the two photos of the litter:

Please comment as I’m keen to hear you thoughts. Thanks.


Hi Tracey... the short answer is that female cats can produce litters that were fathered by more than one father.

Superfecundation is the fertilization of two or more ova from the same cycle by sperm from separate acts of sexual intercourse. It can rarely happen with humans too. It is extremely common in dogs, with stray dogs often whelping litters where every puppy is of a different father1.

Superfecundation in Cats - See: Tomcats and genetics

Superfecundation in Cats - Notes:

1. Wikipedia authors - Yahoo Answers - and:

Comments for
Superfecundation in Cats

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Jun 09, 2010 More than 1 daddy
by: Elisa Black-Taylor

Here's the story to back it up. Your babies are beautiful. Just make funny noises so they'll look at you.

Jun 07, 2010 Thanks!
by: Tracey (Author)

Hi Guys

Thanks so much for taking the time to read what is only my second article but I just had to show you my unusual nippers!

Thanks also for your comments and Michael thanks so much for your help with the photo's; I'm certainly no photographer!

Finn your point was interesting; 'how does she explain that?' I know that the feline mating ritual is very brutal and when a cat comes into season she is pretty much raped (hence another damn good reason for getting them speyed before letting them out!) Any amount of uneutered Toms will have a go resulting in trauma and very often injury (bites, scratches, torn ears etc.)

My momma cat is barely a kitten herself so not ready really, for motherhood but yet she's so sweet and she's been a fab mom. Do you think these irresponsible 'guardians' would think again if they knew what happened? Probably not. From experience all they think about is themselves.

Anyways they are all doing well and I'll make sure they go to loving homes.

Jun 05, 2010 What Finn said...
by: Maggie Sharp

I'll just stick to what Finn said, and agree that it all comes down to genetics.

When Chilli was born both his parents were Tawny, so they assumed they would have a litter of mainly Tawny kittens, when the litter arrived there were 3 Cinnamon girls and only 1 Tawny boy, of course, that Tawny boy is now my little Chilli! So a lot of the time colours, pattens etc can vary depending on what the mother and father carry, we didn't know that Chilli's mother carried Cinnamon, but we did know that Chilli's father carried Cinnamon as if he himself were Cinnamon!

A very beautiful litter of kits you've got, Tracey! I really like the Marble looking one... =)

Jun 05, 2010 Good one Finn lol
by: Ruth

The mother doesn't have to explain it Finn,I've always been told that cats have no morals lol

Jun 04, 2010 Another possible explanation
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Tracey. Yes, superfecundation happens and probably more often than we think. Quite likely that is what has happened here.

There is however another possibility, namely that the female herself is carrying the curly gene in her. It could go back many generations for that matter without showing.
If I'm not mistaken the gene for a curly fur is recessive, which means it does not show unless the kitten receives it from both parents.
If my math is right, the mating of two carriers should statistically result in 25% normal furred, 50% normal furred but carrying the gene and 25% curly furred.
As we know from throwing the dice, probability has no memory and so a litter of 50% curly kittens would not be unusual at all.

But as I said, in this case with two completely different pairs of kittens, the most likely explanations is two different fathers. How does the mother herself explain this? 😉

Jun 03, 2010 Cat and kittens
by: Ruth

Tracey your cat and kittens are beautiful !
Michael is right, Queen cats often mate with two or even more Tom cats and the kittens can look very different in colour and size.
Our Jozef is black and white and had 6 ginger brothers. Their mother was a brown tabby.
The people we got him from told us Jozef's father was feral and we did see a black and white Tom looking very like him,carrying off a rabbit.
Jozef was tiny in comparison to his brothers too.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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