The birth of a cat and its phases: How to help a cat to give birth?

How to help a cat in labor? What are the stages of labor for a cat? How long does my cat give birth? What difficulties can there be in childbirth? Postpartum care. Here you can solve all your doubts about childbirth in cats.


Most female cats can deliver their kittens with little human assistance. However, some female cats may have difficulty expelling kittens. This problem is called dystocia.

It can be caused by maternal or fetal factors. Your cat may have a narrow pelvic canal that makes it difficult for her kittens to get through, or there may be an overgrown kitten that she can’t expel without help.

Stages of labor for a cat

Stage 1 : During the first stage of labor, the cervix dilates and uterine contractions begin . Your cat can purr and socialize during this stage.

Stage 2:  During this stage is when the kittens are expelled by strong contractions of the uterus . Sometimes you will see a tense abdomen, this will happen when your cat has a contraction. This stage can take several hours to complete, especially for giving birth to large litters.

Stage 3:  During the third stage, the fetal membranes (placentas) appear. Female cats can alternate between stage 2 and 3 , so you can see that when she expels a kitten, then she expels her membrane, or she can expel several kittens and then the membranes. In some cases you may not see the membrane because it has already been eaten. This behavior is totally normal, when they expel the placenta the most common is that they eat it.

How to assist a cat during childbirth?

Here we are going to leave you a series of steps to follow in order to help your cat give birth:

1. Keep a little distance

For the most part, a cat will not need your help to give birth. However, your presence in the area will likely reassure her.

  • Stay far enough away so as not to invade their space or prevent the birth, but close enough to be able to intervene if necessary.
  • You must be prepared for possible complications and know how to recognize the signs of them.


2. Recognize the signs of labor

You should familiarize yourself with the signs that generally indicate that your cat is about to begin the birthing process. As we have already seen during the first phase, contractions and dilation of the uterus appear, which can last between 12 and 24 hours.

The signs to recognize are the following:

  • Lack of restlessness, looking for a place to hide(you must show him the nest).
  • Excessive grooming.
  • Stimulation and gasping.
  • Purring and complaining loudly.
  • Decrease in body temperature byabout 2ºC.
  • Lack of appetite, stop eating.
  • Vomiting
  • If your cat has a bleeding you should go to the vet immediately. Bleeding before delivery is a warning that something is wrong.

3. Clean and sterilize your hands in case you have to help him

You should remove your watch and rings and then clean your hands with antimicrobial hand soap. This process should take a few minutes to achieve good sterilization.

  • Don’t use hand sanitizer. This product does not kill all germs.
  • You only have to intervene if a kitten is in danger, and you have to return it as soon as possible.

4. Watch every kitten that your cat expels during labor

Make sure your cat is in a quiet and comfortable place , once she is in her nest, do not move her or make a lot of noise. When the second stage of labor begins, it will generally develop as follows:

  • The cervix begins to relax and the mother begins continuous contractions.
  • There is an accumulation of contractions when the first kitten enters the birth canal. Contractions should occur at 2 to 3 minute intervals.
  • The amniotic fluid (water bubble) appears first, followed by the kitten.
  • Once the second stage of labor begins, it will take approximately 30 to 60 minutes for the first kitten to be born. The following kittens may take between 20 and 60 minutes.
  • If your cat has calmed down and has been pushing for more than an hour without giving birth to any kittens, there is likely a problem. See if there is anything on the vulva lips If there is nothing then it will be better to contact the vet.
  • If a kitten is partially out for more than 5 minutes and is not progressing, you should help her by grasping the part of the kitten that is outside and gently stretching, preferably in time with her contractions. If the kitten does not slide off easily, contact your vet.


5. Make sure the mother removes the amniotic sac and cleans each kitten

The mother usually removes the membrane from the amniotic sac by vigorously licking the baby . The kitten should breathe and move in seconds, as a result.

  • If you don’t remove the amniotic sac quickly, break the membrane around the kitten’s face with sterile handsto make sure the kitten can breathe. Wipe his face with a clean, dry towel.
  • When possible, return the kitten directly to its mother, and if necessary place the kitten under her nose. She will usually clean the kitten.

However, if the mother ignores the kitten and remains wet, you should pat the kitten dry by rubbing it with a clean, dry towel. This has the dual effect of making the kitten cry, which attracts the mother’s attention and sparks her interest. At this point, return the kitten to its mother.


6. Check the placenta

There is one placenta per kitten , and it must be delivered after each one is born . Make sure that she expels them all, as a placenta that remains inside the mother could become infected and cause death to your cat unless you seek medical attention.

  • DO NOT try to remove a placenta. If you pull on the umbilical cord and cause the uterus to rupture, the mother could die. If you suspect that any of the placentas has not been expelled you should take it to the vet.
  • Keep in mind that the mother will normally eat the placenta. This is totally normal. The placenta is full of hormones and nutrients that need to be returned to her body, so don’t interfere with this process, just make sure she doesn’t try to eat the kitten due to lack of experience.

You may want to let her eat the first two or three placentas and then remove the rest, as many nutrients can cause diarrhea or vomiting.

What difficulties can there be in giving birth to a cat? Reasons for concern

Most common problems to pay attention to :

  • Your cat has been contracting and straining for 20 minutes but not expelling any cats.
  • It takes more than two hours between expelling the kittens.
  • 10 minutes of intense work will not expel a kitten seen on your cat’s vulva.
  • If gentle pulling on the trapped kitten causes pain to the mother.
  • Your cat is depressed, lethargic, or has a fever.
  • There is blood loss from the vulva for more than 10 minutes.
  • Prolonged gestation (more than 68 days after mating).

If you have any concerns, consult your vet for more information. If you have to take your cat to the vet, make sure you have a safe carrier for her. Keep the kittens in a separate box with a heating pad to keep them warm.


Postpartum care a cat needs

Even if your cat appears to have had no trouble expelling the kittens at birth, it is recommended that you take her to the vet to have her checked and to see if the kittens are healthy.

While your cat is raising her kittens, she will need plenty of nutrient-dense food . We recommend that two weeks before giving birth you start feeding your cat with quality kitten food, which has more nutrients and helps to produce better quality milk.


Eclampsia (milk fever, puerperal tetany, or hypocalcemia) is a condition that most often affects nursing mothers, but it can also occur during late pregnancy .

Eclampsia symptoms are seen when calcium levels in the blood get too low. Symptoms can be vague, but include restlessness, wheezing, increased salivation, and stiffness when moving.

This can quickly progress to muscle spasms, fever, and death, so contact your vet immediately if you notice any of these signs.



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