The kittens have just been born and you notice with concern that mother cat gasps and you wonder if it is a bad sign that your cat is breathing fast after giving birth. The cat’s breaths are short and apparently heavy, with her tongue slightly sticking out.
Some vets are of the opinion that rapid breathing or panting is never normal in cats. This rapid breathing after giving birth in some cats disappears after a while and does not cause any other additional problems, at other times it may be the beginning of a life-threatening condition of the mother cat.
In this article, I expose you to the possible reasons why your cat gasps after giving birth.
Reasons why the cat pants after giving birth
- Stress, labor effort or possible difficulties in delivery
The strain of labor and the birth of kittens can cause the mother cat to gasp. As long as she keeps eating, drinking, going to the litter box, and nursing her kittens, it’s not something you need to worry about.
Sometimes rapid breathing and panting is a sign that the kittens are still inside her waiting to be born. It may even be necessary to deliver a retained placenta.
Female cats can experience what is called “interrupted labor” during which kittens can be born up to 48 hours apart.
If that time has passed and she still hasn’t delivered any more kittens and she’s still panting, take her to the vet for an abdominal X-ray or ultrasound. This will confirm the possible presence of unborn kittens.
If at any point during the waiting period there are contractions and she is straining and no kittens are born in an hour, take her to the vet immediately.
Once again, if she seems happy and relaxed despite rapid breathing, leave her alone but still monitor her progress.
- The existence of fever due to infection
Another likely cause of panting can be fever. High fever can be due to serious conditions such as infection in the uterus or the mammary glands .
The fever is generally accompanied by other symptoms, such as poor appetite and reluctance. If you notice these signs, take her to the vet to be examined.
The veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics if there is indeed an infection.
This disease is also known by other names: milk fever, puerperal tetany, and eclampsia . It is characterized by a decrease in calcium in the blood below the normal level.
The first observable symptom of hypocalcemia is rapid breathing or panting in a cat that is pregnant or has given birth.
Hypocalcemia can appear in late pregnancy or around the time you are giving birth. It most often happens in the first three to four weeks after delivery. When you are giving milk to your kittens.
In addition to rapid breathing, watch out for other signs like fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. She may become restless and nervous, and later you may notice some shaking and stiff limbs that make it difficult for her to stand or walk.
What to do during hypocalcemia
When hypocalcemia is not treated, the cat may have seizures and organ failure. Therefore, when you notice the signs mentioned above, take your cat to the vet immediately. Before you get the results, you should give the cat immediate but controlled intravenous calcium to regain normal blood level. Other medications such as those to control fever and seizures may also be needed.
When the cat has stabilized, an EKG may be necessary to check for abnormalities in the heart as a result of the sudden drop in blood calcium. Your vet will likely advise calcium and vitamin D as supplements.
Your vet may establish guidelines for manual feeding and caring for kittens in the temporary absence of their mother. Once the cat is recovered, she will be kept under close observation to see if the crisis repeats itself. If it recurs, kittens will need to be weaned early and hand-fed a milk replacement formula.
How Hypocalcemia Can Be Prevented
To prevent this life-threatening condition, provide your pregnant cat with a good quality commercial cat food suitable for the stage of her life that she is in. This must be supplemented with the vitamins and minerals that you need during pregnancy and subsequent lactation.
Oral calcium supplementation during pregnancy is not recommended. It can make the body think that there is more than enough calcium in the blood. This can cause the parathyroid glands, which are responsible for controlling calcium levels, to make less or even stop making parathyroid hormone. This will result in a decrease in calcium in the blood, which paradoxically leads to hypocalcemia.
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