A complete guide to cat births (and how you can help)
There are a few things in life more delightful than welcoming new arrivals into the world and if you’re a soon-to-be grandparent to a set of brand-new cat babies, you’ll want to learn as much as you can to prepare.
Published on the 11/07/2020, 14:00
Often, you won’t need to do much other than be there to encourage your cat but if you want to be the best possible cat parent there are some measures you can take to help prepare your kitty (and yourself) for the birth. Take a look at our handy guide and get ready to welcome the pitter patter of tiny paws.
It’s worth noting that you should always ask for a vet’s advice. Professionals are fully trained and can provide expert treatment if there are any difficulties. Check in with your practitioner to see what they advise and ask for their out of office number in case any complications arise.
How to help my pregnant cat find a nest to give birth
A day or two before labour, your cat will seek out a quiet and safe place to birth her kittens. She will choose a location that feels best for her but it’s a great idea to prepare a potential birthing area to encourage the process to take place somewhere safe and hygienic for your kitty. Create a warm, preferably dark, quiet and safe den for your cat. A cardboard box lined with clean towels or blankets would be ideal. Then, once your cat has chosen her nesting spot, avoid moving her as this could cause distress.
Is my cat about to go into labour?
Cats are usually pregnant for between 58 and 67 days but it can be difficult to know how far along your cat is as they don’t usually show any signs for the first few weeks. Thankfully, your cat will exhibit some unique behavioural traits further down the line to keep you informed!
During the first stage of labour, your cat may moan, meow, pant and become restless. She may make frequent trips to the litter tray (move this close enough to her nesting spot) and she may show nesting behaviour such as rearranging the towels and blankets in her den. It’s likely that she’ll groom excessively, particularly around the genitals.
What to expect from cat labour
The next stage of the birthing process starts when your cat begins to push. She may deliver standing, laying or squatting and the first kitten will usually take the longest to be delivered. The kittens will be born in their amniotic sacs and the new mum (or queen as she is known) will remove these and stimulate the kittens by roughly washing them, she will sever the umbilical cord and may eat the placenta.
How to help a cat give birth
The good news is that birth comes naturally to your cat (even if she’s a first-time mum). Her body has an inherent intelligence and contractions will gradually increase throughout her labour to help her to push the kittens out of her uterus.
As a cat parent, your main role will be there to provide comfort and encouragement. Unnecessary involvement from you may upset your cat so avoid interference unless there’s an issue. Have your vet’s phone number on hand in case any medical assistance is necessary.
When to get involved in a kitten’s birth
While the general rule of thumb is not to get involved or touch the animals, there are a few exceptions. If the queen ignores one of her kitten and doesn’t remove the amniotic sac then it may be up to you to rub the sac away using a clean, dry towel (never a sharp object), gently clean their face and nose and rub the kitten against the direction of their fur to stimulate breathing.
If the mother is calm and appears to be caring for her kittens, then you don’t need to move them but if she appears to be in distress, is ignoring the kittens or is moving a lot, it may be a good idea to briefly place the kittens into a clean, warm place (ideally with a towel covering a heated blanket or hot water bottle so the kittens stay toasty) until the cat’s labour is over and she’s ready to care for her newborns.
Be aware that between 10 and 60 minutes may pass between births but if there’s a delay of more than two hours and you’re sure there are still kittens, call your vet.
My cat is bleeding after giving birth. What should I do?
Your cat will probably bleed after giving birth. The birthing process is stressful for your cat’s body and some bleeding and discharge is to be expected. If she seems otherwise content and is taking care of her kittens then you don’t need to worry for now. If the bleeding seems excessive or carries on for long periods of time then it’s a good idea to call your vet.
A final note
If everything appears to be going smoothly then the best course of action for you is to watch from afar. Only get involved if your cat is struggling or she isn’t attending to one of her kittens and always, always call your vet if you have any concerns.
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