In most cases, cats give birth without any problems, but you should be alert to any signs of complications, as these can rapidly become life-threatening, for the mother cat and her kittens alike. Cats often try to sneak off to give birth on their own, so try to prevent this by providing an area in the home with a kittening box where your cat can feel secure. This will then allow you to watch over her, and check that everything is progressing normally without problems.
Most queens are quite able to manage the birth of their litters on their own. However, you should keep your vet’s number handy when your cat is expecting a litter of kittens, just in case any problems arise.
It is quite normal for a queen to start breathing heavily during labour and even cry occasionally. Abdominal straining increases, with contractions developing every thirty seconds or so as the time for the birth of the kittens approaches. The queen usually lies down on her side at this stage, with the first kitten then emerging within 30 minutes or so. If nothing happens after roughly two hours of definite contractions, then you must seek veterinary assistance without further delay. The queen may start to become tired before this stage however, and if her contractions begin to cease, then emergency help will be required at this stage.
One of the commonest causes of birthing difficulties is that the kitten’s head may be too big to pass out easily through the birth canal. Even once the kitten is in view however, a problem can arise particularly in the case of a breech birth when the kitten is born backwards, with its hind legs being trapped inside its mother’s body. It may be possible to free the kitten very gently by careful manipulation, but again, do not hesitate to contact your vet for advice. This situation needs to be dealt with quickly.
Assuming all goes well during the birth process itself, you should still keep a watch on your cat, as there can be further complications arising from the birth.
Usually, the placentas which nourished the kittens during pregnancy are passed out of the body following the birth of each kitten. A persistent brownish discharge from the vagina indicates this may not have happened, however, and this can cause illness in the period immediately after kittening, so should you be concerned about the queen’s health, be sure to contact your vet for advice. With the kittens dependent on her, this is definitely a situation where it is better to be safe than sorry.
- The average gestation period for a cat is approximately 56 days, but variance a week either side of this figure is not usually a cause for concern.
- Birthing problems tend to be most common in Persians, because of the relatively large size of the heads of these cats.
- A slight reddish (rather than brown) discharge from the vagina for several weeks after kittening is not necessarily a cause for concern.
My cat fractured her pelvis in a road accident last year. Now she is pregnant, my vet tells me that her kittens may have to be born by Caesarean. Why?
Such a fracture may result in a pelvic deformity which affects the spacing of the birth canal, so there is not room for the kittens to pass through this space.
How could I help a kitten if it became stuck with its legs protruding from its mother’s body ?
With clean hands, gently push the kitten’s back slightly, rotating it at the same time. Then try to free it by carefully pulling down to one side and then the other. Do not use too much force.
Is a Cat Caesarean a risky procedure ?
Provided that the queen is not unduly weakened, it should be quite safe and means that the kittens are more likely to survive.