Animals can be very successful at breeding. Cats are definitely one of those.
Cats are super-cute animals, so soft, and fluffy. If you live with a cat, you know that there isn’t a more beautiful sight than having a bad day and seeing your furry friend come to you all purring and being playful and goofy.
However, there is some confusion when it comes to the way cats reproduce. Some say that cats hatch, while others claim that they give birth. Which one is it then; do cats lay eggs?
In this post, we’ll address some widespread misconceptions and explain if cats really laid eggs.
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Do Cats Lay Eggs?
No, cats do not lay eggs. Cats are placental mammals that give birth to live young. Cats can produce many offspring, giving birth from one to twelve babies per litter. These newborns are called kittens.
There are three types of mammals based on the way they reproduce: monotremes (mammals that lay eggs), marsupials (mammals that give birth to an early-stage fetus), and placentals (mammals that give birth to fully developed fetus).
All of these styles of reproduction have some advantages, but also drawbacks.
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Advantages And Disadvantages Of Cat Laying Eggs
The main advantage of a cat hatching would be freedom and mobility; the mother would not be slowed down by having to carry lots of eggs in her belly.
She could more easily escape danger and also hunt for food. If a cat were a reptile rather than a mammal, it could just bury the eggs in the sand or the mud and walk away, without having to worry about abandoning its young.
The biggest disadvantage of laying eggs would be the exposure of the cat’s eggs to predators, weather, and other environmental changes.
Letting the baby develop inside the reproductive tract allows the cat mother to protect it until it’s ready to be born. The baby would be more mobile and not as helpless.
Why Don’t Cats Lay Eggs?
Cats don’t lay eggs because it is more beneficial to them to give birth to live offspring.
Millions of years ago, every animal laid eggs.
As time passed, some animals slowly evolved and started giving birth to live babies because that was what helped them survive and get their species to the next generation.
The switch took some time.
Before they stopped laying eggs, mammals had been producing milk for their young. A study on the loss of egg yolk genes in mammals discovered that as animals started producing milk for their babies, the developing offspring became less dependent on the egg as a source of nutrition. That’s why many animals abandoned the egg completely in favor of the placenta.
This was what most likely happened with cats. It was dangerous for cats and their ancestors to have their shell-covered offspring sitting out in the environment, so they adapted to keeping their babies inside them for as long as possible, up to 67 days in some cat species.
How Do Cats Give Birth?
Cats reproduce sexually and can become sexually mature from just four months of age. Female cats are induced ovulators – this means that the act of breeding stimulates the release of eggs from the ovaries. Giving birth in cats is called parturition or kittening.
When a cat reaches puberty, she will start getting into heat, also known as the estrous cycle.
The signs that a cat is ready to reproduce include loud meowing, rubbing her head on owners more often, and crouching down with her forelegs pressed to the ground and her backside up. In indoor cats, this can happen year-round.
If the seductive ritual is successful, a female cat, called a queen, and a male, called a tomcat, will copulate. After short copulation and a pregnancy period of around 9 weeks, a cat is ready to deliver the young.
As the cat prepares to give birth, her birth canal will relax and widen, she will become restless, hide away, groom excessively, eat less, and scratch and pace around her kittening box.
A cat usually gives birth to between one and twelve kittens in a litter and will have two to three litters per year.
A cat will give birth to kittens that are inside a thin sac, which the cat tears off to enable her kittens to breathe. Also, for each kitten, the cat will pass an afterbirth (placenta).
After your cat has given birth, it is important to count the number of placentas, as each kitten should have one. If there are fewer placentas than there are kittens, you will need to see a veterinarian immediately, as there is a chance that the placenta was retained.
Once a baby cat is born and the umbilical cord is removed, the offspring will have a belly button scar (navel) on the belly; the scar will not create the classic belly button appearance humans have though.
Kittens are born blind and deaf – their eyes will open in about seven to 14 days, and their ear canals in 10 to 14 days.
In the first couple of days, the cat will nurse and groom her kittens often. After about three weeks, she will encourage her kittens to move around and explore their environment. By four weeks, the kittens should be walking steadily; by six weeks, they should be able to play, jump, and climb.
Weaning (transition from cat milk to solid food) usually happens between eight and ten weeks.
Domestic cats will have a lifespan of around 10-15 years.
Why Do Cats Sit On Eggs?
Recently, a series of viral TikTok videos discovered that if you give your cat pet an egg, it will sit on it, cuddle up on the egg like a hen, or wrap its paws around it in a gentle way.
One possible explanation is that cats do it because the egg is fragile, or maybe even because of the maternal instinct they might associate with laying on an egg.
You should note that not all cats took care of the egg – some just ignored it, while others used it as a toy. There was even one cat that pushed the egg with its paw until it dropped and broke on the kitchen floor.
Animals That Lay Eggs
According to the University of Georgia, over 99% of the world’s animals reproduce by laying eggs. That’s because most of the animals in the world are insects, and most insects hatch from eggs.
Over 99% of mammals give live birth, including cats. Out of around 6,500 known mammal species, only the platypus and the echidna lay eggs.
Most reptiles lay eggs. Out of approximately 11,000 known species of reptiles, over 80% lay eggs. The only exceptions are some snakes and lizards that give live birth.
Almost all fish lay eggs. Out of around 34,000 known species, less than 400 are livebearers. This includes guppies, mollies, platies, swordtails, and some sharks.
All species of birds lay eggs. This includes all of the 10,000 recognized species of birds. Some ornithologists claim there are twice as many bird species, around 20,000.
Almost all amphibians lay eggs. Out of around 8,000 amphibian species, most will lay eggs in freshwater habitats. There are only a few amphibian species that give live birth (several frog species).
Almost all insects reproduce by laying eggs. Out of around 1 million known species of insects, of which 350,000 are beetles, all lay eggs. The only exceptions are a beetle from Borneo, another from South America, and some aphids. Scientists speculate that there are between 5 and 10 million species of insects in existence today.
Final Thoughts – Do Cats Lay Eggs?
In conclusion, cats do not lay eggs. Cats are animals that belong to the order of placental mammals called Carnivora.
These carnivorous mammals develop a placenta that nourishes (via umbilical cord) and protects the fetus while it grows inside the uterus.
The main reason why cats do not lay eggs is evolution; giving birth to live young helped cats procreate and survive to this day.
Animals that hatch will have eggs that come in different forms!
Some will have blue or white color, speckled patterns, and different textures, while others will be hard, soft, or even gooey. Animals may decide to lay them in the water, underground, or a nest. Cats are not one of those animals.
If you were pondering on the question “do cats lay eggs”, we hope this article removed all doubts.
And if you enjoyed it, here’s a recommendation on another popular read on cats: do cats belong to the rodent family?