My cat had only one kitten. Should I be worried?

If your cat has been pregnant and has had only one kitten, it is normal for you to worry, since cats are known to reproduce in an exorbitant way.

Female cats can have between 1 and 12 kittens with an average of 4 in a litter. Although it is very rare to have a single calf, this is not abnormal.

In this article I offer you the different reasons that explain  why your cat has only had one kitten , when it is normal and when you should worry.

Does she only have one kitten, or does she have more inside her body?

Occasionally, owners of pregnant cats have found that the mother during labor has expelled a single kitten and then apparently the delivery stops.

The first question that comes to mind is: will there be more kittens in her body? Then after a few hours, you start to get nervous and ask yourself these questions: Did I do anything to interrupt your labor? Is just a kitten normal? How long should I keep waiting? Should I take her to the vet now, or should I observe her first and take her later? The list goes on.

If circumstances allow, it is best to take the mother to the vet. For your peace of mind, an x-ray or ultrasound scan will determine if she still has kittens in her body. If you wish, you can leave it and the staff at the veterinary clinic can observe it. If you are having trouble giving birth to the remaining kittens, help is immediately available.

Is it normal for a cat to have only one kitten?

Factors such as the amount and motility of sperm, the health and age of the cat can influence a cat’s pregnancy, even genetics can determine the number of kittens. In terms of age, the delivery of a kitten is more common in gilts and young women, and in older cats. Still, it is rare for a cat to give birth to just one kitten, but it can happen as normal.

Another possible reason may be that one or more kittens were  fertilized , but did not develop properly. If a fetus does not develop within a certain period of time, the cat’s body will absorb them. In the case of kittens that are born dead because they did not develop in the body of the cat, it is most likely that the mother will eat them, leaving the kitten that was born alive. In this case, if you have not been present at the birth, you will come to the wrong conclusion that there was only one cat in the litter.

Whatever the reason for a single kitten, don’t worry, it is not, in itself, a risk to the mother’s health. Do everything you can to ensure her well-being, reassure her, and feed her well.

How to know if the cat has interrupted labor, or is having a difficult labor

If circumstances prevent you, for the time being, from taking her to the vet, here is a summary of what can happen and how long you should wait:

  • The normal birth interval between kittens is 10 minutes to 1 hour, but can be up to 3 hours.
  • The entire birthing process will usually be completed in 1 to 12 hours, sometimes up to 24 hours.
  • The cat may have entered a state called interrupted work. This is normal in cats. During this period, the cat stops straining, rests, breastfeeds calmly, eats and uses the litter box. This stage can last between 24 and 36 hours, after which the effort and the birth of the subsequent kittens must be restarted, otherwise the vet must see the mother.
  • The cat may be having dystociaor difficult labor. You will see your cat straining for more than 20 minutes without expelling kittens. Or a kitten is seen in the opening of the vulva but cannot come out, even when it has been straining for more than 10 minutes. The cat will show distress and signs of pain and exhaustion. She will be restless, panting, crying constantly, and at times, you can see a smelly discharge from her vulva. This should be treated as an emergency and will need to be taken to a vet immediately.

What should I do if problems arise during delivery?

It is recommended that you do not wait too long to take your cat to the vet for an examination. She could still have kittens in the womb, so the luck and well-being of the mother and her kittens will depend on any problems in the birthing process being identified and addressed quickly.

The C – section is the surgical procedure to give birth to a kitten when delivery problems. If necessary, the cesarean procedure will only be successful if the mother is not too sick or too tired. Don’t wait too long, the kittens might not survive the intervention. Be aware that kittens that have died in utero can cause infection, further complications, and long-term expenses. Act quickly.

In conclusion: keep an eye on the kitten and mom

In the event that your cat only had one kitten, it may happen that being a single kitten, she may not be able to capture her mother’s interest and may abandon her baby. If you see this happening, keep an eye on mom.

Let her go when she wants, but always take her and hold her close to your kitty when it’s time to nurse. Weigh the kitten to ensure that she is getting enough milk from her mother and that she is gaining weight steadily. Do this until the kitten is old enough to eat and drink on its own.



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