4 Most Common Cat Birth Difficulties

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: August 8, 2018
4 Most Common Cat Birth Difficulties

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A cat's delivery is a moment of joy and excitement, because soon a few playful animals will come to the world and probably become great pets, always considering that labor has been sought, and not because of an accident. In order to avoid unwanted births, you should sterilize your cat.

In any case, although the cat mother may be ready to give birth, while births in these animals are usually not problematic, there are some common cat birth difficulties that can occur, such as those reviewed in this AnimalWised article.

You may also be interested in: At What Age Can Cats Have Kittens?
  1. Cat reproduction
  2. Tips prior to the cat's delivery
  3. My cat can't give birth, why?
  4. How to know if my cat gave birth to all her kittens

Cat reproduction

Female cats, which they reach sexual maturity at six months of life approximately, are seasonal poliestrous animals, i.e. that they have several heats that last for less than a week, which are repeated every 2-3 weeks. In general these heats occur in spring, although it depends on the conditions of the animal's life, since those living in a flat have a more constant temperature and light conditions, which makes it more complicated for the body of the cat to recognize the change of season.

Gestation usually lasts 65 days, although as it is commonly said, biology is not an exact science, which is why this time may vary slightly in some cases.

Tips prior to the cat's delivery

If you believe that your cat is going to give birth to her kittens, please visit a vet for several reasons.

  • First, to make sure that the cat is really pregnant and is not suffering from a phantom pregnancy. This you can be verified with an ultrasound, which is a fast, simple method without side effects, although depending on the nature of the animal it can be somewhat complicated.
  • Secondly, to carry out a physical examination on the expectant mother and verify that she is in good health conditions and can give birth without problems.
  • Thirdly, it is interesting to know how many kittens she is going to have and if they are alive. An ultrasound is of great help in these cases.

If you do not know exactly when your cat get pregnant to calculate the date of birth, using ultrasound, carrying out some measurements, a vet can fairly roughly predict the date in which she will give birth.

In addition to the date, there are other signs that labor is near that can be detected by looking at the behavior of the animal. For example, as the date approaches, the cat can show more affection, meow constantly or find a secluded place to make a nest. Another very specific sign is the descent of temperature: rectal temperature, which is obtained by inserting a thermometer in the anus, the cat's is reduced at least one degree when childbirth approaches. Since each animal's rectal temperature can vary slightly, it is advisable to regularly take it several days before to know what your cat's usual temperature is in particular.

The expulsion of the mucous plug, which is detected as a whitish or yellowish discharge coming out of the vulva, is a sign that labor is imminent. On the other hand, it is positive to have an emergency veterinary phone in hand if you need their services for delivery in the case that something does not go well.

4 Most Common Cat Birth Difficulties - Tips prior to the cat's delivery

My cat can't give birth, why?

When a cat has problems when giving birth, or a kitten is stuck in the birth canal, it is often due to one of the following problems that can occur during a cat's delivery, which need to be resolved with the help of a veterinarian.

Dead kittens

To be able to trigger labor, the kittens must be alive. If this is not the case, childbirth does not occur and it is necessary to resort to drugs and, if these do not work (something that is quite likely), the cat will need a c-section. This should obviously be performed by a veterinarian, so take your cat to the closest clinic.


The complications that make complications that make labor more difficult than usual are know as dystocia. In cats, which hold several small-sized offspring, they are less frequent that in other animals, which tend to give birth to a single larger kin such as cows or sheep. However, dystocia may still appear, so, if after detecting the signs that labor is about to occur, a long period of time has gone by without the cat giving birth to any of her kittens, we will have to visit a veterinarian, who will try to re-place the kittens and, if it is not possible, he or she will perform a c-section. It is not recommended to administer oxytocin, a hormone that promotes the expulsion of the contents of the uterus in the cat, without being sure that the position of the kittens is correct. If not, the uterus will contract trying to expel the kittens and, if this is not possible because one is stuck, the organ can rip apart due to the strength applied. Indiscriminate administration of oxytocin is something that some breeders use and is a very serious mistake that can lead to very serious consequences for the mother.

Loss of strength in the uterus

In a very long birth, that is very hard at the beginning when the mother tries to give birth to the first kittens or deliveries with many kittens, the uterus can start losing strength as the process progresses. There if it could be advisable to administer oxytocin, but after making sure that they are placed in a form which can easily out. If this doesn't work, the c-section is the ultimate solution.

Not expelling the placenta's remains

Other problems that can arise are that after the birth, certain dead kittens or the remains of the placenta remain inside the cat. Therefore, if you find that after the birth, your cat is having trouble recovering from it, and shows signs of weakness, fever, or other symptoms of illness, we advise you to go to a vet to rule out these problems (through a physical examination and an ultrasound) or give them treatment, according to your cat's case.

4 Most Common Cat Birth Difficulties - My cat can't give birth, why?

How to know if my cat gave birth to all her kittens

In general, between kitten and kitten, the birth interval is usually not more than an hour, which is why, if after a couple of hours another cat does not appear, it is likely that childbirth is completed. In addition, at the end of giving birth, the mother tends to stand and devote herself to licking and taking care of their offspring.

Although in some cases some cats can interrupt delivery and continue past many hours these are distinguished from a delivery that has not ended, since, when they interrupt the delivery, they will stand up, they will take care for their kittens, will go to drink, etc., while if the birth of a baby has not finished yet, the mother will lie in the same place. If this is the case of your feline and you suspect she is having trouble to give birth to one kitten, remember that you must go to the vet as soon as possible to confirm or rule out any of the above problems in the delivery of the cat.

If childbirth finally occurs normally, we recommend to consult our article on how to feed a newborn kitten.

4 Most Common Cat Birth Difficulties - How to know if my cat gave birth to all her kittens

If you want to read similar articles to 4 Most Common Cat Birth Difficulties, we recommend you visit our Gestation category.

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1 comment
giselle le coombes
My cat has just given birth to 3 kittens but i feel there might be another to come, this was 6 hours ago. She is looking after kittens very well but wants me to stay with her and will not leave my side. Please advise
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4 Most Common Cat Birth Difficulties