If you have a female Maine coon, the idea of getting kittens is quite interesting. So how do you tell the litter size of your Maine Coon? How many kittens can you expect from her? This can be quite difficult to get, but with a few factors, you can determine the litter size. Here are a few factors that could determine the litter size of your Maine Coon.
In short though, a female Maine Coon does not generally have a large litter. The average is 4 kittens, and rarely will they have a litter size greater than 6 kittens.
The Maine Coon’s health and age, as well as their genetic histories, affect the size of the litter. For instance, a first time or a young Maine Coon can produce a small litter, usually up to four kittens. As the female Maine Coon ages, it produces more kittens and produces as many as 6. So if you are wondering about the size of litter to expect, check on the mother’s age.
The type of the Maine Coon also influences the number of kittens in a litter. Siamese type of Maine Coons usually has larger litters. Persian type Maine Coon breed have smaller litters and Manx Maine Coons lose a quarter of its kittens in every litter it gives birth to. Some Maine Coons are seasonal breeders and come into heat at certain periods of the year. Indoor cats may cycle all year round because they are exposed to indoor lights while outdoor cats may cycle only during the summer and spring when the days get longer and stop cycling when the days get shorter.
Induced ovulation means that the act of breeding induces or stimulates the release of eggs from the ovaries or ovulation. Therefore the Maine Coon can be bred at any time during its active stage of heat or estrus. Most female Maine Coons require about three to four mating within a day for ovulation to occur. It takes a short while for the cat to mate and may mate several times in a short period. So the more mating encounters the cat have the high chances of producing more kittens, and different tomcats can father them since the coon may mate with different male Maine coons. After the ovulation period, the queen goes out of heat in the next day or two days.
Certain infections affecting the Maine coon may also influence the litter size. For instance, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) decreases the fertility of the infected Maine Coon and alters the ability of the kittens to thrive. Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV) also affects the size of the kitten as it makes the pregnant Maine Coon bore stillborn kittens. If the Maine Coon is infected with FPV early during pregnancy, it may cause miscarriage. The virus can affect the brain of the kittens after birth and may cause cerebellar hypoplasia (a neurological condition in cats where the cerebellum is smaller than usual).
The Maine Coon’s diet also affects her pregnancy and the health of her kitten just like with humans. If the female coon is malnourished or starving, it influences the number of kittens produced. Most will end up as stillborns.
The best way to determine the litter size of your Maine Coon is by taking her to a vet. The vet then uses three common methods of determining the size of the litter:
The vet might palpate the coon’s uterus
The vet may gently press the coon’s uterus and feel the amniotic sac to feel the number of kitten embryos in there.
The vet may also use ultrasounds to estimate the size of the litter. This method as well as palpation only give estimations and can be off by a kitten or two. Nonetheless, it gives the owner the number of kittens to expect.
The use of an x-ray machine is the best option to determine the litter size, especially in late pregnancy. It gives the accurate number as well as the size of the kitten so it would be even important in case your Maine Coon needs a caesarian section.
Getting to know the size of the litter to expect shouldn’t be a difficult thing to do. You only need to check on certain factors like infections, age, nutrition and a few others we have highlighted. You also need a vet’s intervention to determine the number of kittens to expect from the Maine Coon. With that, you are now ready to receive your newborn kittens.