## Archive for August 1st, 2009

### Kitten math

August 1, 2009

We adopted kittens this week, within 24 hours of arriving home.  This was the culmination of several months of deciding whether or not it was a good idea given that we already have two adult cats who weren’t actually asking for younger siblings.  So far, the kittens are happy, one adult cat is curious and I think will be fine, and the other adult cat has at least progressed to the point where she’ll eat snacks right by the doorway to the room the kittens are primarily staying in.

Anyway, the place we got them from advertises that one adult female can produce 420,000 offspring over 7 years.  That seemed a little high, so I decided to check the math.

The first thing to wonder about was how to count offspring.  Clearly this was more than just kittens:  it must be counting all future generations.  But predicting how many offspring males can sire was difficult, because it really only takes a few males to father a LOT of kittens.  So I decided to initially look only at the female lines.

In looking around, it seems that cat pregnancies last about two months, and a female can get pregnant again about a month after that.  In theory this would mean 4 litters a year, but The Internet implies that most cats have 2-3 litters per year.  I decided to go with 3, since I was trying to see if that 420,000 was even resonable (as opposed to typical).

There’s also the question of how old cats have to be until they are able to mate.  It turns out to be around 6 months, though for convenience (since I was going by 4 month intervals) I decided to go with 8.  Or, looking at it another way, I figured that kittens would have their own litter on their 1st birthday (and every 4 months after that), so that’s assuming mating at about 10 months old.

Finally, there’s the size of the little.  I decided to go with 4 kittens per litter, two of which were female.

Then I made a table.  It started off like this: