How does the birth of a cat begin?

It is a very exciting time. You are waiting with your cat for the arrival of a litter of kittens. A cat’s pregnancy lasts from 64 to 67 days or about 9 weeks.

But, how can you tell when your cat is in labor ? Here I offer you a series of signs that will indicate that the birth of the kittens is imminent.

Signs to know if your cat starts labor

1. The mammary glands will increase in size

During the last week of pregnancy, your cat’s mammary glands will increase in size. Female cats have 4 pairs of mammary glands. About two days before the cat gives birth, she will begin to produce milk.

You may notice some thick cream-colored discharge coming out of her nipples. Your cat can lick it or let it dry and you will notice that her nipples will have small white scabs. It is believed that each nipple can have its own scent, which kittens use to repeatedly go to the same nipple.

2. Nesting begins

Your kitten will look around the house for the place to have her kittens, you can help her at this time by placing a  nesting box,  (it can be a cardboard box with blankets), in a quiet and warm room, free from drafts. That there are no drafts is very important, as kittens cannot regulate their body temperature.

Make sure the location of the box is not within reach of another pet you may have, as well as far away for children.

3. Your body temperature will drop

Your cat’s normal temperature drops to 37.7ºC  (one or two days before giving birth, her temperature will drop to 37.2ºC). You can take her temperature, but usually there are enough signs that labor is starting that you won’t need to measure her temperature.

4. Behavior changes

During the last week of pregnancy, your cat may become lonely (hiding as much as possible in a secluded place in the house) or very affectionate , which is especially the case if she is in a close relationship with you.

5. Decreased appetite

Your cat may have a significant decrease in appetite – you will notice this, as most pregnant cats are voracious in the last weeks of pregnancy. The decreased appetite may be caused by the weight of the kittens pushing against their mother’s stomach, or it could simply be a consequence of anxiety.

6. Licking of the vulva

You may notice that your cat licks her genitals frequently: there is a discharge from the cat’s vulva a few hours before labor begins.

How long does a cat give birth?

The delivery of a cat is not governed by fixed rules and, like us humans, you can only speak in approximate terms. Still, some general guidelines can be established to determine if the delivery is proceeding normally or if there are delays that can lead to problems.

The first phase of labor is known as dilation . To know how long the delivery of a cat who gives birth for the first time lasts, you must bear in mind that the dilation period can be prolonged. This is where uterine contractions serve to open the cervix and allow the young to pass through. This leads to a second expulsion with the kittens that are born.

It is possible that before labor begins, the cat will lose her mucus plug. This is the substance that serves the uterus to prevent infection. The mucus plug can fall between 3 and 7 days before the kittens are born. If she doesn’t give birth after 7 since she lost her mucus plug, you should see a vet. The same is true if a greenish discharge occurs, but it is not followed by the birth of kittens.

How long does it take for a cat to give birth after her “waters” break?

It is important to differentiate between loss of the mucus plug and amniotic fluid secretion after the sac ruptures. The time it takes to give birth after the sac ruptures (also known as a water rupture) should not exceed 2 to 3 hours. After this time we should see the signs of the kittens being born.

How long does it take for a cat to give birth between kittens?

Another concern you may have when a cat is giving birth is how long it will take to give birth to another kitten after the first one is born. Generally, she will give birth to her kittens in half hour intervals. However, it is not unusual for rapid births to occur every minute or so. It is also possible that the next kitten will be born after an hour. If you spend more time and you are sure that another kitten has yet to be born, you should go to the vet.

Can a cat give birth for several days?

Although the period of dilation can be considerably longer than actual birth, normal feline delivery occurs relatively quickly. A cat cannot give birth in a healthy way for several days, so if the delivery takes more than 24 hours , it will be necessary to go to the vet for help with any complications.

When is a veterinarian necessary in the delivery of the cat?

Now that I’ve explained how long it takes to give birth to kittens, you should know that there are circumstances in which vet intervention is recommended:

  • If  more than 2 hours pass after the contractions have started.
  • Very weak contractions of 2 to 4 hours.
  • After 20 to 30 minutes of very strong contractions without expelling the kitten.
  • If you see any obstruction in the birth canal, regardless of the time.

Any of these signs can indicate a problem with the mother or babies and you should contact a veterinarian. They will be better able to diagnose the problem and even use a C-section if necessary.



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