In felines, pregnancy lasts from 63 to 65 days ; however, it is not uncommon for some female cats to last a shorter or longer time (range 58 to 70 days).
The behavior of the cat, throughout the pregnancy, is little altered, the changes are noticed in the last week of pregnancy. During this last week, the search for the most suitable bed or nest for childbirth becomes the most important factor. The cats must be controlled from this moment to achieve the observation of the birth.
In general, two types of temperament are observed in the birth of a cat : the independent type that will travel long distances to discover a dark and closed place away from human contact; and the dependent type who will seek security in the presence of its owner, even going so far as to be able to choose the owner’s bed as the best place to deliver kittens.
You may also be interested in the article: First heat of a cat. Age, phases and duration.
Symptoms of childbirth in a cat
- The enlargement of the mammary glandsduring the last week of gestation.
- About two days before delivery, milk can be expressed from the nipple.
- The cat when the birth is approaching will spend more time in the box or nest where the birth will take place.
- A decrease in body temperature: The normal temperature in a cat is 37.7 to 39.1 ° C. A day or two before birth, its temperature drops to 37.2 ° C.
- Behavior change:During the last week or so, the cat may become elusive (possibly looking for a secluded spot) or more affectionate, especially if she is particularly close to a caregiver.
- Loss of appetite
- Restlessness and rhythm.
- Lick the genitals frequently.
- Clear discharge from the vagina.
How is the process of giving birth to a cat
Three stages are usually clearly distinguished in childbirth:
First stage of labor
This stage will last between 12 and 24 hours . The cervix and vagina relax and the uterus begins to contract. Uterine contractions should always be interrupted for periods of relaxation , otherwise the kitten’s blood supply would be cut off.
The pelvic muscles loosen and the perineum (the area between the anus and the vulva) becomes looser and longer. Uterine contractions are not yet observable, although the movement of the kittens can be felt through the abdominal wall. There is not much else to see at this stage, except for repeat visits to the place where the delivery is to take place. Panting can be seen as a late feature of the first stage. Vaginal discharge is rarely seen and is usually cleared instantly by the cat.
Second stage of labor
This stage will last from 5 minutes to 1 hour. The contractions become stronger and closer together, and the cervix is fully dilated. The cat is ready to give birth. The kitten moves through the birth canal. Pressure on the cervix initiates the mother’s urge to push. You can see her visibly straining to expel the kitten. The kitten’s water pocket (or bubble) is usually seen on the vulva. It usually takes about three thrusts for the kitten to deliver.
The queen will tear and lick the membrane on the face and body, stimulating respiration.
If the kitten is not born after an hour, call the vet.
Third stage of labor
Immediately after the kitten is born, the placenta is delivered. Once the cat has cleaned the kitten and her breathing has started, she will normally break the umbilical cord and quite often eat the placenta.
When the kitten has been delivered, it is important that you pay attention to the removal of the placenta. This is important because a retained placenta can lead to an infection, which is life-threatening.
How long does a cat give birth
The first kitten should arrive within an hour after the start of labor. The other kittens should arrive ten minutes to an hour apart.
Each kitten arrives wrapped in a gelatinous membrane filled with clear fluid: the amniotic sac. Typically, mothers start licking the kitten vigorously, which breaks this sac allowing the kitten to breathe. This lick stimulates the kittens’ circulation and breathing.
It usually takes two to six hours for the entire litter to be delivered. If the delivery lasts more than seven hours, it is advisable to take the mother and the kittens to a veterinarian . While she is giving birth, keep her area quiet, calm, and dimly lit. Do not interfere with labor unless you are sure it is necessary.
Some cats experience an interrupted labor , in which they rest for a while before delivering the next kitten. This can last up to four hours, although that length of time is unusual. If the cat appears relaxed, even getting up to eat or drink, there is no cause for alarm. Problems arise if she tries hard to deliver and can’t.
How to help during the delivery of the cat
Consider that the cat most likely does not need your help. Do not invade his space, but do not be far away in case he needs help, in case of complications.
Clean and sterilize your hands in case the cat needs help. Take off any objects (watches, rings) and wash your hands with antimicrobial soap. Hand washing is preventive
Once the mother begins labor, the best thing you can do is stay calm, be prepared, and watch the deliveries. Make sure to keep calm and the environment around her.
If your cat has been pushing hard without a kitten coming out for more than an hour, there are likely problems. Two things can happen:
- What when looking if there is something on the lips of the vulva, no kitten pokes out, then you should contact the vet.
- If a kitten is partially out, but does not come out after pushing your cat, then gently grasp the part of the kitten that you can see and gently pull trying to match the cat’s contractions. If the kitten does not slide off easily, contact your vet.
Make sure the cat removes the amniotic sac and cleans each kitten. The kitten should be breathing and moving instantly. If she doesn’t remove the amniotic sac, you can break the membrane around the kitten’s face with your hands to make sure the kitten can breathe. Wipe her face with a clean, dry towel.
Check the placenta. There is one placenta per kitten, and it must be delivered after the birth of each one. If the placenta remains inside the cat, it could become infected and cause her death. Don’t try to remove the placenta on your own, you could tear your uterus when pulling. If you suspect that a placenta has not been delivered, take it to the vet.
The cat usually eats the placenta which contains hormones and nutrients that must be returned to her body. You may want to not let her eat more than two or three placentas and then remove the rest, as many of the nutrients can cause diarrhea or vomiting.
Don’t cut the umbilical cord. The normal thing is that the cat cuts the umbilical cords of the placentas. You should know that the cord is connected to the placenta, if you cut it the placenta can be trapped inside it and not be expelled, which will cause an infection and the death of the mother. Instead of trying to intervene, call the vet and follow their instructions.
As a final tip you can disinfect the navel of the kittens with chlorhexidine. Don’t distress the mother. If she strongly opposes your interference, then drop things instead of risking her rejecting the kittens.
What can you do after delivery
Make sure the kittens nurse as soon as possible. Early milk contains valuable colostrum with antibodies for kittens.
As kittens are blind and deaf, at birth it is normal for them to find it difficult to find the mother’s nipples to drink milk.
When any of the kittens are rejected, prepare the cat milk powder and feed the rejected kitten a kitten rearing bottle. If the mother has problems with the flow of milk, consult the vet, who can stimulate it, and in the meantime, feed the kittens with milk and a bottle to raise kittens.
If a kitten shows choking or gurgling, she may have fluid in her lungs. To remove it, hold the kitten in your hands with the head on the tips of the fingers. Gently rock the kitten down. This will help flush fluids out of the kitten’s lungs.
If the mother cat doesn’t seem interested in her kittens, try rubbing her scent on them. If she persists in not being interested, you may have to take care of the kittens.
Don’t panic if one of the kittens is stillborn. However, make sure it’s really dead before you properly dispose of it.
Provide good quality food and fresh water near the nest after the birth is over. The cat will not want to leave her kittens, or stop to eat or use the litter box, so you should leave it near her kittens. For the first day or so, he may not get up at all, keep food close to his bed if possible.
It is very important for her to feed in order to maintain her own energy and pass nutrients to the litter.
Bottom Line: If you have a pregnant cat who is about to give birth, you may feel nervous and excited. The good news is that the birth of kittens comes naturally, so your pet will instinctively know what to do. In general, nature takes its course and female cats are very good mothers, so most of the time you don’t have to do anything. You may even wake up one morning to find that your pregnant cat has given birth during the night and is calmly caring for your kittens. However, you should know how to detect potential problems and what to do if your cat needs help with the delivery.
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