ViviPet | What to do when your cat is in labor

ViviPet | What to do when your cat is in labor

ViviPet | What to do when your cat is in labor

Nothing makes a cat feel prouder than showing off her healthy litter of kittens. If your cat is pregnant, it can be stressful waiting for that moment when you know all the kittens and your cat are okay. And when labor finally arrives, it’s often not a ‘one-and-done’ scenario. So, we’ve covered what you need to know from the time your cat starts her contractions to that proud-momma moment when her kittens line up at the milk bar as she purrs.

Signs Your Cat Will Give Birth Soon

It takes about two months for kittens to fully form in their mother and be ready for the world. If you have brought your cat to the vet during her pregnancy, your vet will likely tell you how far along she is and how many kittens you can expect. If not, you can guess that it’s probably about 4-6 weeks after you noticed she was getting bigger.

What to do when your cat is in labor

Your cat will also drop some hints that she’s ready to give birth, such as:

  • You may notice your cat’s mucous plug coming out. This is normal. You can expect kittens within 3-7 days.
  • Becoming restless and vocalizing
  • Grooming her nether regions
  • Pacing and panting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Scratching the floor
  • Rolling over and lying down more
  • Hiding and searching for a nesting spot
  • Nesting: This is when she finds a quiet place to hunker down. Pregnant cats, also called queens, usually choose a safe location, out of the way, and comfortable. If you want to try to help her out, you can create a little din like area in a closet with towels and blankets. But don’t be surprised if she chooses another spot.

How to Prepare for Your Cat’s Labor

Cats, for the most part, don’t need human midwives. They’re pretty self-reliant and capable of taking care of the process on their own. If you want to be more involved, there are some supplies and things you should know.

Supplies to Prepare and Keep Handy

  • Absorbent Pads: You can use puppy pee pee pads to line the area
  • Clean hand towels or bath towels
  • Paper towels
  • Create a secondary holding area with a heating pad in a crate or box. Cover the heating pad with a layer or two of blankets or towels.

What to do when your cat is in labor

Signs Your Cat is in Labor

After a couple of days of pre-labor symptoms, your cat’s body will prepare for giving birth. Labor usually unfolds in a series of stages.

  1. The physical change queens experience is a drop in body temperature.
  2. You cat may or may not throw up.
  3. Contractions begin which opens the cervix.
  4. Your cat’s water will break. This means kittens are 2 to 3 hours away from daylight.
  5. You can expect kittens to begin crowning and come out of the queen in their amniotic sacs. Most mothers instinctively break this sac with their tongue. If your cat does not, you can delicately cut the sac, breathe warm air onto the kitten, and gently rub it with a clean towel.
  6. You can expect about 10 to 60 minutes between births. It can take longer, but if it exceeds 2 hours, bring her into the vet.
  7. It’s normal for kittens to be born tail first.
  8. Each kitten with have its own placenta (internal feeding sac). The queen will birth these after the kittens (usually within 24 hours). Make sure an equal number of placentas are released as number of kittens. If a placenta does not come out, bring your cat to the vet.
  9. Your cat will ‘cut’ the umbilical cords by chewing them off.
  10. Kittens will naturally squirm and find their mom’s nipples (which are hotter in comparison to her body temperature).
  11. Bring your mother and her kittens into the vet within a day of birth.

When all is said and done, you can anticipate the birthing process to take a couple of hours, up to 6 or 7 hours.

What to do when your cat is in labor

Feline Birthing Complications

For the most part, cats are champs when it comes to giving birth. But it’s important to recognize if labor isn’t going well or you need to bring your cat into the veterinarian. Here are some situations that require a vet’s attention:

  • Retained Placenta: as mentioned in step 7 above.
  • Kitten Stuck or Lodged in the Birthing Canal: If a kitten is stuck in the birth canal for more than 10 minutes.
  • Post-Birth Bleeding: You should expect some blood after your cat’s labor is over (it is an intense process), but if the bleeding seems excessive or persists for a long time, bring her into the vet.

One of the saddest aspects of cat labor is when a kitten is born but doesn’t make it. A mother cat can become distracted by this and morose. If this happens, remove the kitten out of the birthing area.

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If you’re waiting for your cat to give birth: Congratulations! This is an exciting time for you both. Remember you’re better safe than sorry if you’re worried about the safety of your cat or the kittens. We hope this article gave you some insight as to what to expect.

Watching your cat bond with and take care of her kittens. It’s also priceless to watch the kittens grow and develop personalities of their own.


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