Anxious about your cat giving birth for the first time? It’s a daunting experience for us pet parents, but knowing what’s coming can make it easier. Don’t worry anymore! This article offers tips and advice on giving your furball the best care during and after birth.
Preparing for a Cat Giving Birth
Signs that a cat is ready to give birth
If you’re expecting your cat’s litter, here are some signs to look out for when she prepares to give birth.
- Restlessness and not being affectionate
- Aggression towards other cats or humans
- Meowing and crying a lot
- Excessive grooming
- Looking for a safe delivery spot
- 20-24 hours before labor:
- Drop in body temp
- Contractions lasting 30 seconds to 75 minutes
- Vaginal discharge (clear/pink mucus)
- 12-24 hours before labor:
- Enlarged, dark nipples
- Softening abdomen
- Restlessness and panting
- 1 hour before labor:
- Water breaking (release of amniotic fluid)
At this point, labor should start. If 3 hours pass after the water breaks and contractions don’t start, consult a vet.
Preparing the birthing area
Preparing a birthing area for your cat’s first litter is important. The mother cat needs a warm, dry, and quiet space. Free from drafts, predators, and other animals. This area will be her birthing chamber.
Ideally, there should be room for her to move. Soft blankets or towels should cover the floor. You can also provide her with some toys or familiar items. Have fresh water and food on hand in case she gets hungry.
The temperature should be 80-90°F (27-32°C). Too cold or drafty could make her agitated, slow the delivery, or even put you both in danger.
Essential supplies for the birthing process
When your cat is close to giving birth, you need some necessary supplies. The most important items include:
- A clean, warm, and quiet place with a large, shallow box. Line it with newspapers or other absorbent material.
- A pair of lubricated, disposable gloves to check on your cat during labor.
- A few clothes or old towels. Use them to keep your cat warm, wipe down the kittens, and protect yourself from any mess.
- Scissors cut the umbilical cord and remove any membranes around the little one’s neck.
- Kitten formula/milk replacer in case some kittens struggle to nurse or if something happens to mother-cat.
- A baby toothbrush for post-birth clean up and hygiene.
Have these items ready before your cat starts. It can make the delivery process smoother and help with post-birth care.
Preparing yourself as the cat owner
Your cat’s first birth is an important event! As their owner, you should be aware of any signs that indicate the cat is ready to give birth. Knowing what to expect and having a plan will help the process go smoothly.
- Ensure your pet has had regular vet check-ups and all recommended vaccinations. If not, call the vet ASAP for guidance.
- Provide a warm, quiet environment for your cat to give birth in. Make sure there is enough space for the momma cat and her kittens. Have books or magazines around, as the birthing process can take hours. Set up bedding for both momma cat and her offspring.
- Don’t disturb the mother-and-kitty bond. Have clean, warm blankets ready. Avoid picking up more than one kitten at a time to avoid stressing momma cat out. This could cause her to reject or hurt them out of fear or confusion.
Stages of Cat Labor
The three stages of cat labor
A cat’s labor has three stages: contractions, kitten birth, and afterbirth. How long each stage takes varies, depending on the size of the litter and the health of the mother and kittens. It’s best not to interfere or handle them too much, as this can cause distress.
- Stage 1: Contractions – Contractions may last up to 24 hours for first-time mums. But they usually last 25-45 minutes over several hours before any kittens are born.
- Stage 2: Kitten delivery & passing placenta – During this stage, cats will push as they deliver each kitten. They’ll bite the umbilical cord and eat the placenta afterward. You may see a bloody discharge and uterine contractions that expel “slough.” Each kitten may take 5-30 minutes to be born, with a 10-minute to the 1-hour gap in between.
- Stage 3: Afterbirth – After all kittens have been born, cats may rest before producing the last one. They’ll also expel any remaining placentas, called “meconium.” This must happen within 24 hours of giving birth, or else infection may set in.
Symptoms of each stage
A cat’s pregnancy and labor have symptoms that show how far along she is. Monitor her closely for her safety and the health of her newborns.
Late Pregnancy: As the due date nears, a restless cat may vocalize more. Her nipples will be enlarged and darkened. Her appetite may increase significantly.
Stage One: Labor begins. She’ll be very nervous and restless. She’ll search for a safe spot. Once she chooses one, she’ll purr loudly. Clear fluid or bloody discharge may come out. This is called “show,” and delivery is near.
Stage Two: Contractions last 30 minutes each. Rub her abdomen to help speed up delivery. Each kitten should come with an “allantois” sac. This sac needs to be removed from each kitten. Otherwise, they won’t be able to take in oxygen properly.
Stage Three: After delivering her babies, she’ll start licking them clean to keep them warm. She may appear disinterested, but she’ll soon begin to feed them. Check for any placenta remaining inside her uterus. This needs to be removed ASAP, or else there could be complications.
What to expect during each stage
Cats usually give birth to kittens without any issues. It’s comforting to know what happens during the birthing process. Cats’ labors are short, and they deliver without human help. When cats are getting ready to labor, watch them and give extra support if needed.
Here is what happens during each stage:
- Stage 1: Labor & Birth Contractions start every 10-30 minutes and last up to 5 minutes. You may see your cat licking her vulva. After a few contractions, the kitten will appear – head first! The gap between kittens is usually 15 minutes.
- Stage 2: Delivery of Placenta Once the last kitten arrives, your cat may separate and eat the placenta. This is normal and helps her body recover quickly.
- Stage 3: Bonding With Kittens Once all kittens are home, momma-cat will bond with them. She’ll lick them clean and remove membranes. Then she’ll feed them colostrum – milk with antibodies to help their immune systems.
Helping Your Cat During Labor
How to assist your cat during labor
Know what to expect when your cat is in labor! This is a special time. Prepare for safe delivery by giving your cat a warm, clean spot away from other animals. Be around to observe and note the labor’s progress. Also, please keep track of her body temperature. Don’t try to give her medication or “force” delivery. This can be dangerous. If a complication arises, contact your vet quickly.
Follow these steps and be ready to help your cat during labor. This will ensure a safe birth experience:
Observe and note the labor’s progress.
Keep track of her body temperature.
Do not try to give her medication or “force” delivery.
Contact your vet quickly if a complication arises.
Common complications during birth
Cats usually give birth without any issues, but you should be aware of some complications. The mother cat might need medical help and oxygen if the uterus doesn’t contract right. If a kitty is stuck in the birth canal for two hours, your vet must remove them manually.
Dystocia (being unable to give birth) can happen if there are too many or too few kittens or if the mother cat is too small or obese. Other issues include:
- Infection of the uterus/placenta
- Excessive bleeding
- Urethral obstruction (a blockage in the urinary system).
Pre-natal care and monitoring during birthing can prevent these problems.
When to intervene and when to let nature take its course
Cat owners want to protect their cats during labor. But it is essential to understand when your cat can do it alone. If a cat gives birth for the first time, she may have more difficulty than an experienced queen. If you intervene too soon, you may cause harm. Let nature take its course without help.
To know when to intervene:
- Check for signs of normal labor. These signs include pacing, restlessness, panting, and nesting. Usually, the first stage of labor lasts 6-12 hours and ends with 1-2 kittens. If it lasts longer, contact your vet.
- Observe your cat’s behavior. Pre-labor signs include crying out, not eating, or drinking too much. Active labor will be restless and vocalizing. Your cat will also look for a secure place.
- Check if your cat strains too much or if the timing of contractions is irregular. Straining may mean something is wrong, or she can’t deliver. Contact your vet.
- After each kitten is delivered, watch carefully. Ideally, one kitten should come out every 15 minutes. Call your vet immediately if you see blue color, excessive bleeding, or a wrong fetal position.
- Remember, your cat doesn’t need help during normal birth. Don’t use heated pads or towels unless there are complications. Give your cat gentle, reassuring words.
After the Birth
What to do if the kittens are born stillborn
If your cat is giving birth for the first time and any of the kittens are born stillborn, there are some steps to take:
- Dispose of the stillborn kitten safely and responsibly. Give your cat a chance to bond with it if she chooses. Handle it using gloves or tissue paper. Place the stillborn kitten in a separate container for disposal later.
- Assess your cat for signs of physical distress. If she appears healthy, let her rest. Provide food and water for her to rehydrate.
- Over the next few days, watch for symptoms such as depression or lack of appetite. If any arise, consult your veterinarian for treatment advice.
What to do immediately after birth
Ensure the mother cat is calm and secluded, away from other pets and loud noises. This helps reduce her stress levels when she nurses her kittens. Check for signs of distress – difficult breathing, pale gums, or any unusual behavior. If required, call your vet instantly.
Examine the kittens’ bodies for abnormalities; discolored fur or curved limbs could point to paralysis or skeletal issues. Check their mouths for fluids, which may be a sign of breathing issues. Each kitten should have one swollen “milk tooth” on each side, meaning they were fed during labor.
After 10-15 minutes of nursing:
- Separate the mother cat from her kittens.
- Move the kittens to another room, giving the mother cat a rest before the next feeding round.
- Watch for excessive grooming, which can mean distress or pain. If you spot any signs, get advice from your vet on how to care for the feline family.
Caring for the newborn kittens
Caring for newborn kittens can be a fun yet demanding experience. The early weeks are important for their health, so providing a clean and safe environment is essential. Please make sure the temperature is consistent, and their nutritional needs are met.
- After birth, place the kittens with the mom. Make sure she has food and water near her. Have a vet check her to make sure she’s in good shape. Monitor their feeding patterns to ensure they’re healthy.
- Deworm them every month until four months and vaccinate them at eight weeks or older.
As for temperature, get a heated box for cold weather and access to air conditioning in warmer weather. Create a serene area away from humans where they can feel secure. Have soft and cozy materials like old towels or blankets to comfort them.
Remember to keep the litter box clean. This is important for your health and theirs!
Postpartum care for the mother cat
The mother cat needs a secure, tranquil spot to rest & look after her kittens right after birth. Enough bedding should be provided, so she can make a comfy nest & keep her newborns warm. A shallow cardboard box with towels or blankets is perfect for the new family.
Before birth, the mother cat usually builds nests. If needed, offer packing paper or soft cloth to help her out. Leave some space between objects so she can move easily once everything is done.
The postpartum period can last up to 2 weeks. During this time, she’ll be focused on caring for her kittens. Disturbing her while nursing is hazardous, so no disturbances should be made. She should have easy access to fresh water & nutrition (canned/dry kitten food). The litter box should be nearby too.
To guarantee the safety of the mother cat & newborns, other pets should be kept away from the birthing spot until the 2-3 weeks recovery period is over.
A cat’s first birth can be an intimidating experience. Provide your cat with the best care before, during, and after delivery to make sure things go well. Also, be aware of medical risks. Call your vet immediately if anything feels off during or after delivery. Ensure your cat is safe and taken care of throughout the process. This will guarantee a positive experience and lots of love!