Cat Pregnancy

Most cats feel more comfortable delivering in a warm and dark place in a covered delivery box. You should begin to prepare for her delivery at about the 58th day of pregnancy by getting a box ready for the mother to sleep in to ensure birth of the kittens in the area you desire. Place the box in a secluded, yet familiar area of the house, away from family traffic and noise, to allow mother and kittens rest. Food and water can be kept nearby for easy access for the mother.

 

For bedding in the delivery box we recommend newspapers, as you can change it frequently, as needed, she can shred it up to make a nest, and it is also absorbent. You can use old blankets, towels rags etc, but if you do make sure they are washed frequently to keep up the hygiene in the delivery box. Be aware that after all of your hard work, she may still find another place to give birth, like a wardrobe or inside of your bed!

 

If you desire to know when delivery is near, record the rectal temperature twice daily, starting on the 60th day. Rectal temperature usually drops about 1 degree Celsius within 24 hours before the onset of labour. Normal rectal temperature ranges from 38⁰C-39⁰C.


During the first stage of labour, the mother cat may seem uneasy and restless. They usually will go off their food and/ or water. The mother cat’s rectal temperature will drop and she will seek quite, dark, secluded places. You may hear her howling. This stage can last from 12 to 24 hours.


 

 

 

Image source wikimedia commons

 


In the second stage, contractions and the birth of the kittens start. Usually, a small, greenish sac protrudes from the vaginal opening first. A kitten and its attached placenta (afterbirth) follow this. The normal presentation of the kitten is nose first, lying on its abdomen. Some kittens, however, are born hindquarters first. After delivery, the mother opens the sac, cleans off the kitten and bites off the umbilical cord. It is not very often you will need to perform these functions for the mother. Make sure the sac is removed immediately from the head if it is not broken during delivery, especially from around the nose and mouth area, so that the kitten can start to breath. The third stage of labour is a resting stage, which follows each delivery. This stage may last from a few minutes to a few hours. Occasionally, two kittens are delivered within a few minutes and then a resting stage occurs.


After each kitten is born the mother will usually remove all membranes covering the kitten with her tongue, cleaning off the face and removing mucus from the nose and mouth. If not, you will need to rub the kitten with a clean, dry towel in order to dry it and to stimulate breathing and circulation. After a few minutes of rubbing, the kitten will begin to squirm and cry. The umbilical cord should be tied about 1 inch from the body with fine thread and cut with scissors. Apply a drop of iodine to the cord after it is cut.
If a kitten seems to be lodged in the birth canal and the mother is unable to push it out, rapid assistance is necessary. There may not be time to call your veterinarian and drive to the clinic if you wish to save the kitten. Grasp the kitten with a clean towel and use steady, firm traction. Do not pull suddenly. The best place to grasp the kitten is by the skin of the back. Pull downwards and backwards at an angle of 45 deg between the tail base and the perineum. You will then need to get the mother cat and her kittens to a vet to make sure the rest of the births continue without a problem and make sure the mother cat and kittens are all ok.

 

The kittens should start to suckle soon after they have been delivered and cleaned by the mother. Each kitten will choose its own teat for nursing at birth and will continue to nurse there by seeking out its own scent. It will nurse every two to three hours. A thriving kitten will quickly develop a fat tummy and will sleep peacefully. If it is not feeding, or the mother is no producing enough milk, you may need to supplement feed the kittens. This task needs to be done every 1-2 hours both day and night for a new born kitten.

 

For the first three weeks, the mother cat will lick each kitten around the abdomen and anal area after nursing to encourage elimination of waste (toileting). In her absence, this task would be yours, and would be accomplished with a warm, damp washcloth. You need to do this after each feed.

 

You will need to call and go down to your Veterinarian if any of the following occurs:

  • You are unable to remove a kitten lodged in the birth canal.
  • There is strong and persistent labour for 30 minutes without a birth.
  • There is weak, intermittent labour for 5 hours without any results.
  • It has been more than 4 hours since the last birth and you suspect more kittens are present. There is a vaginal discharge and no labour or kittens with 3 to 4 hours.
  • The pregnancy lasts more than 67 days.
  • The kittens appear all born but the mother will not settle and allow them to suckle.

 

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