All about cat birth: answers to the most important questions

Pregnancy and childbirth (lambing) in cats are natural processes characteristic of unsterilized cats. In most cases, they proceed without complications, but sometimes the help of the owner is required. Complications are typical for primiparous, purebred and dwarf cats, as well as for those who are sick with congenital or acquired pathologies. In such cases, mandatory provision of step-by-step assistance is required throughout the entire lambing process.

Necessary preparation

After a successful conception, the formation of future kittens begins, which takes 60-65 days. During this time, it is recommended to find a veterinarian who is ready to provide emergency medical care at home in case of complications.


Arrangement of the place 

For time and after giving birth, the cat will need a secluded corner. It is better to prepare it in advance. Otherwise, the pet will hide under the sofa, which will exclude free access to it and the kittens. For the construction and arrangement of the “maternity hospital” you will need: 


  1. Large box. Make sure that not only the new mother, but also her offspring will fit in it.
  2. Soft bedding or blanket. Place a disposable baby diaper underneath to prevent the cardboard from getting wet.
  3. Bowls for water and food. You also need to add a tray. After giving birth, the cat should rest, and not run to the other side of the house to cope with needs.

The constructed space must be accessible and spacious. Isolate it from possible threats (children, other pets, drafts) by choosing the quietest and most protected room in the house.

What materials, tools and medicines may be needed 

Prepare your “emergency briefcase” a week before the critical time. He must be kept nearby until the start of the contractions. The content should be as follows: 

  • antiseptics and oxytocin;
  • small syringe;
  • cotton pads and gloves;
  • water tank;
  • separate box for newborns;
  • clean towels or cottons;
  • sterile threads and napkins;
  • warmer;
  • pipette and rubber bulb;
  • scissors disinfected with alcohol;
  • dry milk mixture.

All these things should be kept in one place. The amount of tools and materials required depends on the severity of the lambing.



What not to do 

Usually cats give birth when the time is approaching evening or even night. At this time, the pet cannot be left alone. Take care of the completion of all matters in advance and give your pregnant pet maximum attention.

For complications, contact your veterinarian immediately. Trying to fix the problem yourself can kill the animal. Also, avoid using Oxytocin until recently. This drug is used to stimulate labor strictly in the presence of certain factors. If the process takes too long, but is not accompanied by complications, be patient. The body will cope with the birth of babies on its own at a convenient pace.

How to recognize the onset of labor 

Inexperienced owners worry more than their pets. They ask in advance how to understand that the cat is in labor and how long to wait for the kittens to appear. Veterinarians advise to monitor the behavior and well-being of their pet throughout  . This will help you easily recognize changes at an early stage.

The behavior of the expectant mother 

The first signs of labor in a cat affect behavior. The expectant mother is nervous, anxious, constantly looking for a secluded corner and trying to build a nest. Because of this, it is important to accustom her to the prepared box in advance.

The pregnant woman’s appetite decreases up to a hunger strike. She constantly licks the external genitals, and a few hours before lambing begins to arch her back. With strong affection for the owner, the animal begins to attract his attention by meowing.


Physiological signs 

Physiological signs include swelling of the mammary glands, the appearance of lactation and a decrease in body temperature to 37 ° C. The pregnant belly drops down and takes on the shape of a pear. The frequency of going to the toilet increases. 1-2 days before the onset of labor, the mucous plug leaves. It is difficult to notice the discharge of water, since the secreted mucus is constantly licked out.

Stages of labor in a cat

Familiarize yourself with how cats give birth in advance. This will eliminate anxiety and provide an understanding of the natural state of affairs. The process takes place in stages. The first and second stages alternate with the appearance of a new kitten. The third is the fastest and indicates the end of the process.


After the discharge of water, the uterus begins to contract intensively. The diameter of the perineum increases, the resulting contractions are replaced by periods of calm. The pet’s breathing quickens. She constantly runs to the box and digs blankets. This interval lasts 3-6 hours. At this time, you can easily feel the movement of the kittens, putting your hand to the belly of the woman in labor.

With more frequent contractions, fluffy babies are pushed out more and more. A small amount of blood is allowed from the birth canal.

The appearance of kittens 

The appearance of pain with frequent contractions means an early exit of the first baby. Try to calm her down with stroking and gentle words. When pushing, the amniotic sac bursts and releases a small amount of yellowish fluid. This step takes 5-30 minutes and is accompanied by loud purring or growling.


The appearance of the placenta 

The afterbirth is the amniotic membrane, that is, the placenta, which leaves immediately with the kitten or a little later than its appearance. After everything is over, the condition of the young mother stabilizes. Calm and even breathing returns to her, uterine contractions decrease, and the abdomen becomes soft and elastic.

Description of the generic process 

Inexperienced owners are primarily concerned with the length of the process. The condition of the newborns and their possible number are also important.

How long does childbirth last 

It is impossible to give an exact figure that determines how long a cat’s birth lasts. This indicator is individual. It depends on age, breed and general health. Usually the whole process takes 4-12 hours. If the duration is delayed for a day, it is recommended to consult a veterinarian. A negative prognosis is characteristic when reaching 48 hours. In this case, an urgent operation is required to save the animal and its offspring.

It is possible to determine how long the cat will give birth to the next baby by its sequence. The first two come out the longest. The wait can take several hours. The rest of the kittens are born within a few minutes.


How many kittens can appear 

Speaking about how cats give birth, it is necessary to note the number of possible litters. On average, the number of newborns is from 2 to 6. Their number depends on the pregnancies suffered, the breed and the age of the woman in labor. A small number of newborns (1-3) is characteristic of primiparous, elderly and small pets.

What do newborn kittens look like? 

The weight of newborns is 80-120 g, and their body length is 9-12 cm. They are born without sight and hearing, therefore they really need the help of a mother or a person. At first, they constantly sleep and eat a lot. Due to fragile bones, babies cannot stand on their paws. They orient themselves with the help of a developed sense of smell and touch and use a thin squeak for communication. It is better not to touch them at first. It is enough to monitor their weight.

How to determine the end of the process 

The absence of contractions within 2 hours indicates the end of labor. Full recovery of the body takes 2 weeks. During this time, newborns grow up and become more independent.



Features of some genera 

It is not enough to know only in general terms how cats give birth. For effective home care, it is recommended to delve into the nuances of different animals.


In pedigree cats 

British and Scottish women cannot do without veterinary care. These representatives often face problems when trying to push out too large a fetus on their own. For safe passage through the birth canal, veterinary obstetrics are required.


In a primiparous cat 

The first time a cat gives birth is longer and harder. Sitting on the sidelines, reducing all the help to approving words and stroking, will not work. A young pet experiences more than her owner. For the first birth, the cat is characterized by weak contractions with a long break between them.


Premature birth 

If kittens were born prematurely (50-55 days), then this is considered normal only for long-haired breeds. Early contractions in the rest of the representatives are due to serious problems: 

  • non-viability of offspring;
  • internal injuries;
  • detachment of the placenta.

In these situations, some babies are born dead. If the number of stillborns is not more than one, then there is a chance of saving the remaining fetuses. For this, it is recommended to undergo a full examination at a veterinary clinic.

Late labor 

Absence of labor for more than 70 days is caused by a false or frozen pregnancy. In the second case, all droppings die inside the womb. Launched decomposition processes are fraught with infection and damage to the uterus. The animal needs urgent surgery.

How to deliver at home of varying degrees of difficulty

Helping a woman in labor depends on the severity of the lambing. It is impossible to predict its outcome in advance, so you will have to act according to the situation.


No intervention is required for mild lambing. You just need to monitor the safety of newborns. During contractions, the woman in labor can crush them, so place the kittens in a separate box until the last baby arrives.


Compare the number of newborns and sequential. Lack of placenta is caused by getting stuck inside the womb, leading to inflammation. You will have to remove it yourself, wrapping your fingers with a clean bandage. If pus, mucus or blood appears, the lamb is considered moderate or severe.



At the end of labor, the newly-made mother gnaws the umbilical cord on her own, eats the afterbirth and cleans the newborns of mucus. If she didn’t, you will have to play the role of an obstetrician. Carefully cut the umbilical cord 4 cm from the abdomen, tie it with a thread and treat the wound with an antiseptic.

Before cutting off the umbilical cord, clean each kitten of films and clean the nasal passages and oral cavity with a pipette or a bulb. In the absence of breathing and a characteristic squeak, gently fold the baby in half, rub it with a towel and gently shake it upside down.


Do not give your pet more than two successions. They are loaded with micronutrients and have a beneficial effect on the immune system, but cause stomach upset when consumed in excess. If the bladder has not burst inside the vagina, the pet may try to rupture it together with the kitten. Prevent this action by noticing a bubble emerging from the vagina. After the appearance of the newborn, carefully open the amniotic fluid, being careful not to touch the tiny body.


The difficult cases include stopping labor. This can happen when a fetus gets stuck or if several babies are ejected at the same time. To save them, you will have to wear disposable gloves, lubricate the fingertips with petroleum jelly and gently shove them into the vagina in an attempt to grab the withers. Avoid paws. They are too fragile, so they can be easily damaged. Lift the newborn out with a gentle, rocking motion.

If you develop an unpleasantly smelling brown fluid leaking from the vagina, or if labor is prolonged, you should contact your veterinarian. It is also recommended to check in advance the number of future offspring on an ultrasound scan, so as not to miss the fetus getting stuck.

How and why to stimulate labor 

Stimulation of labor is used with late lambing or a prolonged interval between the birth of babies (more than an hour), when the pet cannot give birth on its own. For childbirth, it is recommended to start with a gentle massage of the abdomen and nipples.


In an emergency, an injection of Oxytocin, a drug that accelerates uterine contractions, is allowed. It is used only after a preliminary conversation with a veterinarian. Incorrect dosage can rupture the cervix and cause the death of the woman in labor and her offspring.

Condition of cats after childbirth 

After the completion of labor, the newly-made mother needs to recover. Watch her carefully. If there are warning signs, take your pet to the veterinarian.

Normal phenomena 

In the first week, a small amount of pinkish vaginal discharge is permissible. Loss of milk is possible under severe stress. This is not a pathology, but it involves a forced transition to artificial feeding.

For the first 5-6 hours, the newly-made mother may refuse to eat. It’s okay if she enjoys drinking water. Otherwise, dehydration and depletion of the body is possible. It is also allowed to temporarily stop going to the toilet. Most of the liquid goes into milk, so the pet may not go to the toilet for up to 4 days in a row.


Complications requiring treatment 

Veterinarian assistance is needed to perform a caesarean section or to eliminate complications that a cat has after giving birth. Dangerous complications include: 

  • an abundance of bloody or purulent discharge with an unpleasant odor;
  • prolapse of the uterus;
  • inflammation and hardening of the mammary glands;
  • excessive increase (more than 39.5 ° C) or decrease (less than 37 ° C) in temperature;
  • violation of coordination of movements and heart rhythm;
  • weak breathing of the woman in labor;
  • plaque on mucous membranes and sluggish behavior of newborns;
  • increased urination.



Excessive bleeding after a cesarean section signals a parted suture, as well as tears inside the vagina. In this case, urgent veterinary assistance is required. It is no less dangerous to preserve the abdomen for more than a day after lambing. Most often this is due to fetal stuck or helminthic invasion.

The most dangerous complication is eclampsia – a sharp increase in blood pressure. This condition is accompanied by profuse drooling, seizures, fever, and impaired coordination. If you find these signs, contact your veterinarian right away. An animal left without timely treatment dies.

Veterinarians recommend contacting the clinic if you have any doubts about your actions. It is better to be mistaken in conclusions and make a false call than to destroy a beloved animal and its offspring.


How to care for a cat and kittens 

Change the diaper for the new family and leave it alone. Newborns have little wool, so it is difficult for them to keep warm. Hang a lamp over the box to prevent them from freezing.

Cat food 

A young mother feeds her offspring up to 2-2.5 months. This requires a lot of effort, so pay special attention to her nutrition 

  1. Get quality food designed for pregnant and lactating animals.
  2. Focus on fermented milk products. If you follow a natural diet, make sure you get enough calcium. All other food should be easily digestible: boiled lean meat, vegetables, cereals. The amount of meat in the first 10-12 days is reduced to a minimum.
  3. Add magnesium and calcium to your diet. Additional nutritional supplements will be needed when eating natural foods. Remember to check with your veterinarian before using any medications.
  4. Change the water regularly. If bacteria enter the water, newborns will be immediately affected.



At first, the frequency of feeding increases to 4-6 times a day. Servings should be small and balanced.


A primiparous pet often leaves its family due to a poorly developed maternal instinct. Do not scold her, but calmly bring her back. After several returns, she will understand what is required of her

Feeding kittens without milk 

Mother’s milk cannot be replaced with cow’s milk so The feline body is only able to digest milk of its own kind. Drinking milk from other animals is fraught with acute intestinal upset with subsequent dehydration. Also, with such feeding, there is a lack of essential nutrients. In the long term, there is a developmental delay and the formation of weak immunity. The pet is vulnerable to viral infections and chronic diseases.

Alternatively, the use of a cat milk replacer is recommended.so It comes in liquid or powder form and is sold in veterinary pharmacies and pet stores along with a feeding bottle. The recommended dosages are indicated on the package.

Suitable as a temporary substitute for the mixture: 

  • 1 tsp glucose powder, diluted in 1 glass of boiled water;
  • rice broth obtained after cooking rice by decanting the used water.

This feeding is not recommended to be used more than once. Try to get formula milk or find another lactating cat as early as possible.

Up to 3 weeks feeding is carried out around the clock. Fast metabolism and a small stomach preclude long-term satiety. One feeding takes up to 5 ml of the mixture. From the third week, the first complementary foods are added to the diet, and the interval between feedings is increased to 3 hours.


Is it possible to neuter a cat after giving birth 

Sterilizationspend no earlier than 2-4 months after lambing. During this period, blood circulation in the small pelvis normalizes and the uterus gradually returns to its original size.

Exceptions are permissible when emergency intervention is necessary, typical for: 

  • uterine ruptures;
  • the appearance of malignant formations on the external or internal genital organs;
  • abnormal location or damage to the placenta;
  • postpartum bleeding.

In such situations, surgical intervention is justified. The risk of postoperative risks is inferior to possible complications

First aid for lambing is much easier in practice than in theory. The missing experience comes with time, so each time the process becomes easier. For the first time, it is recommended to agree with the treating veterinarian on the date and time of lambing. In this case, you will be insured in case of complications.

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