How To Tell If A Cat Is Going Into Labor
If your cat is expecting kittens, it can be an exciting time waiting for those adorable little bundles of fluff to arrive. Youll likely want to make sure you have everything ready, so you should start watching for early signs of labor.
The gestation period for cats is roughly 58-65 days long. As the end of this period approaches, you can start looking for signs that your cat is going into labor. These can vary from cat to cat, but they do follow a general pattern. We rounded up the six signs to look for so you can tell if your cat is going into labor and those sweet kittens are on their way!
How Do I Know If My Cat Is Pregnant
20th August, 2019
Whether youre a new parent to your fur baby or youve had your kitty cat for a few years, youll know just how precious they are. One thing is for sure though, if you have a female cat and shes yet to be spayed its important to be able to tell if she has become pregnant or not. You may be purposely breeding her or it might be a total accident but, either way, there are a few tell-tale signs to look out for.
If you do find that your little tabby is indeed expecting, then its handy to know just how to take care of a pregnant cat. Just be aware that very few cat insurance providers do not cover a pregnancy related illnesses, and may even cancel a cover if a cat has 2 or more pregnancies.
Did you know…
Did you know that a pregnant cat is called a queen? Its a moniker youll probably come to agree with once you experience her demands throughout pregnancy. Your little queen is likely to become more vocal or ask for affection to seek comfort or due to discomfort from her growing belly and potential false labour contractions.
What Happens During A Normal Labor And Delivery
The signs of impending labor generally include nervousness, overgrooming, and panting sometimes the queen will stop eating during the final day of pregnancy. In most cases, a drop in rectal temperature, to less than 100Â°F , occurs in the last 24 hours and signals impending labor. Milk will often appear in the mammary glands 24-48 hours before labor begins. Many cats will prefer to be secluded during the birthing process.
Once labor starts, most cats experience delivery without complications however, if this is your cat’s first litter, you should closely monitor her until at least one or two kittens are born. If these first kittens are born quickly and without complication, further attendance may not be necessary, although it is ideal to be available if an emergency should arise. However, if you leave the room, it is possible that she will try to follow you, leaving her kittens and potentially interrupting the labor.
“If the delivery proceeds normally, the kitten will emerge after a few contractions.”
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How To Tell When A Cat Is Ready To Give Birth
For pet parents, anticipating the birth of a new litter of kittens can be very exciting. As your cats pregnancy comes to an end, it can also become stressful wondering when the new bundles of joy will arrive.
Many pet parents may wonder how to tell when a cat is ready to give birth. Fortunately, there are signs and symptoms that signal kittens are on their way into the world.
Common Problems That She Might Face During Labor
Fortunately, most cats can deliver their kittens without any intervention. However, some complications may occur:
Extended contraction without birth
If your car is having more than 30 minutes of strong contractions without any kittens, take it and any kittens to your vet.
Kitten lodged in the birth canal
Most kittens are born head first, Breech occurs about 40% of the time and are considered normal. A kitten lodged in the birth canal for more than 10 minutes is likely to distress. If your kitten is lodged for more than 2 minutes, call your vet and they will give you the next steps
Some bleeding after giving birth is normal, excessive bleeding or hemorrhaging is an emergency and requires immediate veterinarian attention. If pro-long, the mother cat can die. If the regular bleeding continues for more than a week after birth or the bleeding stops and then starts again, seek a veterinarian.
If your cat does not pass each of the placentas, it can lead to uterine infection. Count each of the placentas, even if the mother cat eats it. The number of placentas should equal the number of kittens.
Once all the kittens are born, your queen should be caring for them and feeding them. During nursing, make sure it has ample kitten formula food. A high-quality kitten formula will meet your cat’s high-energy nutritional needs.
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The Second Stage Of Cat Labor
Second stage of labor signs are:
- Forceful Straining, the contractions have gotten very strong and she is using her abdominal muscles to push
- Fluid At Her Genitals, this does not appear for all cats
- Crying Out, Vocalization
She will probably lay down during the birth, either on her side or on her chest.
It can take up to an hour for the first kitten to be born after she enters the second stage of labor.
Once the nose and paws of the kitten appear, the kitten should be born within 15 minutes.
Some kittens are born feet first, as long as the delivery is moving along normally this should be fine.
After the kitten is born, the mother should nip the amniotic sac for the kitten to take its first breath! If she is a first time mom or very nervous, you may have to show her this. If she doesn’t make a motion to do this right after the birth, step in and break the sac.
Where Should I Put The Newborn Kittens
Warmth is essential for the newborn. Kittens cannot control their own body temperature for the first couple of weeks of life. In nature, kittens stay warm by direct body contact with their mother and littermates in the enclosed nest bed. A wet newborn kitten loses heat very rapidly, so it is very important to make sure it is dried off quickly. If the queen is ill or uncooperative, gently lay the kitten on a warm, towel-wrapped hot water bottle and conserve its body heat by covering it with a blanket. Great care must be taken not to inflict contact burns by having the bottle too hot.
Ideally the temperature in the box should be maintained at 85-90°F during the first four days of life. The temperature can be gradually reduced to 80°F by seven to ten days and to 72°F by the end of the first month. If you cannot maintain the room temperature this high, an acceptable alternative is a heat lamp suspended over the nest box. Disadvantages to a heat lamp are that many cats dislike the open bed required for its use, which may make both mother and kittens too hot, and lessen their normal close contact. The box should be large enough for the kittens to move away from the heat if they become too hot.
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Abnormalities Of Labour Dystocia
Dystocia can be classified as either maternal or foetal in origin, depending on whether it is caused by problems with the queen or kittens. Dystocia can also be classified according to whether it arises from obstruction of the birth canal or a functional deficiency of the uterine muscle.
Obstructive dystocia is caused by disproportion between the size of the kittens and the maternal birth canal. Factors resulting in an inadequate size of the maternal birth canal may include disorders of the maternal skeleton , the pelvic soft tissues , or the uterus itself . Foetal causes of obstructive dystocia may result from malpresentation, severe foetal malformation , foetal oversize or foetal death.
Second Stage Of Labor: Birth
The second stage of labor in cats begins with stronger, more frequent uterine contractions that eventually lead to the birth of a kitten. Do NOT move or distract your cat during the birthing process because she may stop labor and begin again the next day if she feels stressed.
Depending on the individual queen, kittens are usually born every 30-60 minutes, with the entire litter being delivered in less than six hours. Pregnant cats can have four to six kittens in a litter. You can use a timer to keep track of the time between kittens to make sure there isnt a problem.
Watch for Complications
Dystocia means difficult birth and can occur for a variety of reasons.
If the mother is having strong contractions and hasbeen straining for more than 60 minutes without birthing a kitten, she should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
What Should You Do After a Kitten Is Born?
Kittens are born with a protective fetal membrane that is usually removed by the mother cat shortly after birth. Fetal membranes are usually reddish-yellow in color and surround the fetus thats floating in amniotic fluid.
If the mother cat fails to remove the fetal membrane within the first minute after birth, you will need to break the sac and wipe away any fluid from the kittens nose. Then open the mouth with the head facing down and clear any remaining membranes or fluid. You can then stimulate the kitten to breathe by firmly stroking their body with a towel.
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Her Behavior May Change
As your cat enters the last few weeks of her pregnancy, she may show a few temporary behavior changes. These can vary from cat to cat. Some cats will become much more solitary and spend time hiding away in a quiet place. Others will become far more affectionate and will always be seeking out attention from their owners. Some cats will be restless and seem unable to settle.
Keep an eye out for these changes, and do your best to accommodate whatever your cat seems to need!
The Kitten Birthing Process
The trigger for the birth process is unknown, but factors include the size and weight of the uterus, size and weight of the fetuses, and the hormonal balances of the fetuses and the queen.
During the birth process, rhythmical uterine contractions gradually increase to push the fetus out of the uterus and into the birth canal.
The birth of one kitten can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. The kittens are born within their amniotic sacs, which the queen will remove. The mother cat will stimulate the kittens to breathe by washing them with her rough tongue. She will also sever the umbilical cord by chewing on it approximately one inch from the kitten’s body. She may also eat the placenta. The kittens will immediately gravitate toward a nipple, latch on, and nurse.
If the mother cat ignores the kitten and it is still in its sac, you will need to carefully cut or tear the membrane pouch and stimulate the kitten’s breathing by rubbing its nose and mouth gently with a rough, dry towel. If the mother cat has difficulty biting off the umbilical cord, tightly knot dental floss around the umbilical cord 1 inch from the kitten’s body and cut the umbilical cord on the mother’s side of the tie.
If a placenta does not come out with each of the kittens, make sure it expels within 24 hours after birth. Each kitten should have one placenta. It is a good idea to count the placentas. If the placenta remains in the cat, you will need to see a veterinarian.
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If Youre Expecting New Bundles Of Fur Arriving At Your Home Soon It Can Very Exciting And Perhaps A Little Daunting Too
You shouldnt need to worry – pregnant cats are usually more than capable of taking care of themselves, although they will still need close care and attention from you during labour. As they often try to sneak away to give birth in private, youll need to keep a close eye on them in the last few weeks just in case! Speak to your vet if you have any concerns about pregnancy in cats, or are worried about your cat giving birth. Their advice should help to put your mind at rest.
Here are some helpful tips from our PetCare Team to help you be as prepared as possible for when your cat becomes a new mum.
Does My Cat Need Any Special Food Or Supplements During Pregnancy
A queens nutritional needs change during pregnancy, giving birth, and nursing kittens. She requires increased calories as well as other vitamins and nutrition. Pregnant queens need an increased number of meals daily and a diet formulated for pregnant females or kittens. Diets formulated for pregnant queens or kittens provide the additional nutrients needed during pregnancy and nursing. Talk to your vet about nutritional recommendations and specific types/brands of food your cat needs during pregnancy and while shes nursing. Remember to slowly blend the new food with her regular food over 7-10 days to prevent stomach upset, vomiting, or diarrhea.
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How Can I Comfort My Cat In Pain
Comforting Your Cat
What Is Early Contractions And Labor
While a kitten born on or after the 61st day of gestation has good survival odds, contractions and labor before then can endanger both the kitten and its mother.
Pregnancy in cats usually goes smoothly, but premature contractions and labor do happen from time to time. In an ideal situation, a cat would give birth after 63 days of pregnancy. However, factors ranging from stress to bacterial infections can cause a pregnant cat to go into labor too early.
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Diagnosis Of Early Contractions And Labor In Cats
If a cat starts displaying symptoms of early contractions, it is vital that it is brought to a veterinarian as soon as possible. The veterinarian will require a complete medical history of the cat, as well as some information regarding the pregnancy. This includes things like the cat’s general health before and during the pregnancy, information about the symptoms being displayed and any stressful incidents that could have contributed to premature labor.
Once the veterinarian has this information, they will begin a physical examination of the cat, while being careful not to cause further stress. Depending upon the results of the physical examination, the veterinarian may need to run any of the following tests: a blood chemical profile, an electrolyte panel or urinalysis.
The blood profile will reveal any issues with progesterone levels, while the urinalysis will show any disorders or diseases that may be causing the early labor. After these tests have been performed, the veterinarian will perform an ultrasound to see if fetal death or abnormal positioning of the fetus could be causing the early labor.
If the kittens are stillborn or die shortly after birth, they may need to be necropsied by the veterinarian to identify the cause of death. This will help determine if the issue could affect the cat later in life as well as ensure the viability of any future pregnancies.
How To Know If Your Cat Is Pregnant For Certain
Your trusted, local vet will be able to tell you for certain if your cat is pregnant by using one of these strategies:
- Palpation: An experienced veterinarian can gently press on the cats abdomen and feel the cats fetuses as early as the 20th day of pregnancy.
- X-Rays: X-rays will only show skeletons of kittens about 40 days into the pregnancy. Its the best way to show the number of kittens.
- Ultrasound: Ultrasounds can find kittens as early as 21 days of the pregnancy, but it can sometimes be difficult to count the number of kittens.
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Do I Need To Help My Cat Raise Her Kittens
Occasionally kittens will be born prematurely. They will be small, thin, and have little or no hair. These kittens require intensive nursing care. Premature kittens often fail to nurse, and need to be fed with a syringe, bottle, or stomach tube.
They also need to be kept warm if the queen rejects them.
“A normal healthy kitten, when warm and dry, needs no assistance in finding its mother’s teat and suckling.”
A normal healthy kitten, when warm and dry, needs no assistance in finding its mother’s teat and suckling. Occasionally an exhausted, restless, nervous, or ill queen may fail to assist her kittens. If the queen fails to nurse her kittens, she should be checked by your veterinarian. If the mother is unable to care for the kittens, they may need to be hand fed. .
Retention Of Foetal Membranes
Occasionally a cat may fail to pass the final set of foetal membranes after parturition appears to be complete. She will probably show some signs of restlessness and of abdominal discomfort and may be unwilling to settle with her kittens during the 24-72 hours after parturition. Her appetite will probably be poor and a brownish vaginal discharge may be seen. Examination will show a raised temperature and palpation through the abdominal wall will disclose a thickened lumpy area of womb containing the membranes. Broad-spectrum antibiotic cover is necessary and prostaglandin F2-alpha may help to induce expulsion of the retained membranes. If this fails, an emergency ovariohysterectomy may be required.
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