My Cat Is In Labor: How To Help A Cat Give Birth

Posted: December 8, 2021 by Anita

my cat is in labor

Cats have very few problems with giving birth to a litter. Just think how many cats worldwide give birth to kittens by themselves in all kinds of environments. Instinctively, the mother cat knows what to do. So try not to be nervous about your cat giving birth.

However, it’s a good idea to know what to expect when your cat is about to have kittens. In this article, I discuss how to help your cat give birth to kittens.

A cat gestation period (length of pregnancy) can last from 61 days to 72 days. At the end of the cat gestation period, your cat will go into labor, and kittens will be born.

Not sure what to do with the kittens once they get here? Read my article, “How To Care For Kittens After Mother Cat Has Given Birth.”

Prepare for the birth

Those kittens are coming, so as a cat parent, help your queen out by providing a clean, warm, dry spot and a nesting box. Don’t wait until the last minute! It doesn’t have to be fancy. The bottom portion of a dog or cat kennel (24″ X 20″ X 10″ high) would make the ideal nesting box.

Line the nesting box with blankets and top it off with puppy pads for easy clean-up.

Need inspiration? Check out these nesting boxes from etsy.com by clicking here

Here are some other things to have on hand:

  • clean scissors
  • antispetic wipes
  • gloves
  • clean towels and blankets
  • syringe and kitten formula (Kitten Milk Replacer)

The room needs to be warm – around 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The room’s warmth will keep the queen comfortable during labor, and the kittens won’t get cold (kittens cannot regulate their body temperature).

It will be crucial to keep your eye on your queen during the last few weeks of pregnancy. She might need extra attention, love, and snuggles during this time, so be patient with her.

Try to get her used to the nesting box you have provided for her during this time. However, don’t get upset if she rejects the nesting box and decides to give birth in her chosen place. Don’t try to move her once she has decided where to have her kittens.

Signs of cat labor

You might not notice the initial signs of labor in your cat – there are no real physical signs such as contractions. So, how to tell when a cat is ready to give birth? You might notice the following cat labor symptoms:

  • Restless
  • More vocal than usual
  • Excessive grooming
  • Panting
  • Eating less
  • Passing cat mucus plug (bloody show)
  • Pacing back and forth from the nesting box
  • Decrease in body temperature

It is best to keep your distance but keep a watchful eye on her. While a cat’s in labor, the need for intervention is very rare, so don’t worry. Instinctively, your queen will know what to do.

Cat labor stages

There are three cat labor stages, and the second and third stages are repeated until all of the kittens are born.

Kittens are enclosed in a fluid-filled double-layered bag of membranes, which keeps them protected from the force of the contractions.

The first stage of labor correlates with the signs and symptoms mentioned above. The cat’s body is preparing itself for the job ahead:

  • pelvic muscles loosens and perinieum becomes longer
  • small contractions with some movement of the kittens inside might be seen

The second stage of labor is a bit more intense:

  • The contractions become frequent and stronger
  • fetus enters the pelvis
  • outer membane punctures, while the inner membrane containing the kitten stays intact.
  • contractions move the fetus through the pelvis (you might see your cat straining at this point)
  • head of the fetus appears then the rest of the body with a couple more contractions
  • Mother cat tears away the membrane away, stimulates the kitten by licking and bites the umbilical cord

The third stage completes the birth:

  • The afterbirth (placenta) passes
  • Queen eats the afterbirth (so don’t freak out) and the second stage of the birth process starts again with the next kitten

How long does it take for a cat to give birth

From the 2nd stage to the 3rd, delivery takes 5-30 minutes per kitten. However, interrupted labor in cats is very common – where the queen takes a break between the delivery of kittens. Sometimes the gap between delivery of kittens can be up to 24 hours (or longer). She will then commence with the delivery of the rest of the litter.

Helping out when needed: how to help a cat give birth

You might have to step in and help look after the kittens during the birth.

There are several reasons why you would need to take over the care of a newborn kitten:

  • Cat giving birth for the first time
  • Your cat is too young to understand what’s going on (kitten giving birth to kittens)
  • your cat rejects the litter or part of the litter
  • mother cat becomes ill or weak during the birth

Typically, your cat will bite through the umbilical cord after the kitten is born. If she doesn’t, you can do it for her by gloving up and cutting the cord 2-4 inches from the kitten’s body. Cutting the umbilical cord too close to the kitten could cause problems.

If your queen doesn’t clean away the mucus from the newborn kitten’s mouth and nose, you will have to step in. Clean the kitten with a clean towel, making sure to clean the mouth and nose. Next, quickly dry off the kitten by rubbing her fur against the grain. Keep rubbing until the kitten has been stimulated to breathe.

If you notice your cat has trouble during birth, call your Vet. If she appears to be straining, but no kittens appear, immediately call your Vet.

Conclusion

Instinctively, the mother cat knows what to do. So try not to be nervous about your cat giving birth.

However, it’s a good idea to know what to expect when your cat is about to have kittens. In this article, I discussed how to help your cat give birth to kittens.

Those kittens are coming, so as a cat parent, help your queen out by providing a clean, warm, dry spot and a nesting box.

You should also have the following items on hand:

  • clean scissors
  • antispetic wipes
  • gloves
  • clean towels and blankets
  • syringe and Kitten Formula (KMR) – just in case you have to feed a kitten or two

You might not notice the initial signs of labor in your cat – there are no real physical signs such as contractions. So, how to tell when a cat is ready to give birth? You might notice the following cat labor symptoms:

  • Restless
  • More vocal than usual
  • Excessive grooming
  • Panting
  • Eating less
  • Passing cat mucus plug (bloody show)
  • Pacing back and forth from the nesting box
  • Decrease in body temperature

There are three cat labor stages, and the second and third stages are repeated repeatedly until all kittens are born. From the 2nd stage to the 3rd, delivery takes 5-30 minutes per kitten.

You might have to step in and help look after the kittens during the birth. If you notice your cat has trouble during delivery, call your Vet. If she appears to be straining, but no kittens appear, immediately call your Vet.



Read more from the Cat Mama: