"What to do When Things Go Wrong with Your Cat's Birthing

"What to do When Things Go Wrong with Your Cat's Birthing

Cats are glorious creatures that give their owners a tremendous amount of pleasure. Taking care of a cat is a massive responsibility and one that should never be taken too lightly especially if you are hoping to breed from her. Making sure a pregnant cat is healthy and happy is essential because if she is stressed out at all, it could have an impact her unborn kittens.

It's towards the end of your cat's pregnancy that extra care needs to be taken which includes making sure she's in a quiet and cosy environment that she feels safe in. The last two weeks can be a worrying time as she searches for the best place to give birth to her kittens and it's a time when you need to keep a watchful eye on her. Ideally, you should keep her in so that she doesn't sneak away to have her kittens outdoors in a place that might not be that safe for her offspring. It might be an ideal to invest in a birthing box for her which most good pet stores sell these days although you can also buy them online.

Be Aware When Things Go Wrong

Most pregnancies go without any hiccups, but this doesn't mean you should not keep a close eye on things as discreetly as you can. Things can go wrong and if you know about it, you can act that much quicker should veterinary intervention be needed at any time before, during and after she has given birth. Signs there may be something wrong include the following:

  • Once your cat has started showing signs she is about to give birth, the first kitten should be born about 5 minutes later and then the rest of them should appear around thirty minutes after that. If you think your cat is struggling or if she is straining, but no kittens are appearing, then it's time to call the vet and ask their advice.
  • Sometimes a kitten's head appears, but mum is too tired and the kitten stays where it is, you can try to gently pull the little thing out but you have to do this by pulling downwards and to always wash your hands before you do so. However, you have to be extra gentle and if in doubt, phone your vet straight away.
  • You can clean the kittens if mum does not do it herself, but you have to do this very quickly and calmly. It's important to clean away any membranes left on the kittens' heads and to use a clean sheet of kitchen roll to do this paying particular attention to a kitten's mouth and nose. It's also a good idea to rub the kittens in a circular motion which helps get them breathing properly.
  • Sometimes a mother forgets to bite off a kitten's umbilical cord and if this is the case, you are best phoning your vet and asking for their advice. In emergencies when you cannot get your cat and kittens to a vet, you can, using clean sewing thread, tie it off twice about 3cm away from the kitten's body before cutting the cord between the two ties. The most important thing is to keep things as clean as possible which means washing your hands before you touch the kitten and the cord.
  • Occasionally a cat might leave new born kittens alone for too long and they get cold in which case it's important to provide them with warmth. You can use a hot water bottle making sure it's not too hot and ideally it needs to be one that has a cover on it so the rubber is not exposed which mum might pierce with her claws by mistake.

The key to any sort of intervention when a cat is birthing is to keep things to a minimum and to make sure your hands and anything you use is ultra-clean. It's also essential to contact the vet if you have to help your cat and to do so as soon as possible because when new born kittens are handled, they are more at risk of developing an infection or being rejected by their mothers. In short, it's best to get mother and her chickens checked out by the vet as soon as possible.

When to Call the Vet

There are certain things to watch out when your cat is giving birth which could indicate she is having problems and would therefore require veterinary help which includes the following:

  • You need to get in touch with the vet if your cat takes longer than 24 hours at the first stage of her birthing especially if she does not appear to be straining at all after initially having done so.
  • At the other end of the scale, if your cat strains for longer than 30 minutes and fails to give birth to a kitten, you need to get in touch with the vet and take her along to the surgery post haste because the kitten may be too big or there could be an obstruction preventing her from giving birth.
  • Should your cat have given birth to a first kitten, but then no other kittens are born after an hour, it's time to call the vet.
  • You need to call the vet if your cat appears to be too weak or if she is passing a lot of discharge which could be bloody or greenish in colour, but no kittens are appearing. You need to bear in mind that a greenish discharge is normal when a kitten is born and is part of the afterbirth.
  • You need to get in touch with the vet if a kitten is stuck and you can't help it out.

Occasionally, kittens need to be delivered by caesarean section because of a blockage or maybe because like Persians, their heads are very big which makes it harder for mothers to give birth to their offspring normally.


It's an exciting time when a cat is about to give birth to kittens, but it can be a worrying time too. Most of the time cats give birth without any complications, but if there is a problem it's best to know what to do and when to call the vet. The quicker you can help your cat the better and the less stressful things would be for her. A vet would advise you on what to do and let you know whether you should take your pregnant cat along to the surgery so they can examine her. If necessary, they may have to perform a caesarean section if she is having problems giving birth to her kittens herself and this means she would have to stay at the surgery until the vet thinks it's safe for her and the kittens to go home.

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