Pregnancy problems

How Do I Know if My Cat Is Going Into Labor?

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. May 10, 2022
How Do I Know if My Cat Is Going Into Labor?

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If you think your cat is pregnant, whether planned or unplanned, you need some basic information about what to expect and how to make sure your cat has a healthy pregnancy. It is also important that you learn to recognize if your cat is in labor, in case there is a problem that requires your intervention and even possible referral to a veterinary hospital.

In this AnimalWised article, you will learn how to tell if your cat is in labor and what signs to look for.

You may also be interested in: How to Know if a Donkey is Pregnant
  1. Some cat pregnancy facts
  2. How to tell if your cat is going into labor
  3. Labor and delivery

Some cat pregnancy facts

If not spayed, a female cat can become pregnant as early as 4 months of age. Female cats may come into heat every 2 to 3 weeks from spring to early fall. A cat's gestation lasts about 63-65 days, which means that a cat can have kittens as early as 6 months of age.

In many of them, the heat is clearly noticeable and we can hear them meowing, almost to the point of screaming. They also rub themselves against everything and are generally nervous and restless.

In general, the cat continues its normal life during pregnancy and its belly grows only slightly larger. In some cases, your cat may suffer from "morning sickness," which manifests as loss of appetite or vomiting in the earliest stages of pregnancy.

It is advisable to see a veterinarian as soon as you suspect that your cat may be pregnant. Only a veterinarian can confirm pregnancy and make sure the cat is healthy. Viruses can be transmitted to kittens even before they are born. So keep up with your cat's vaccination schedule. If your pregnant cat is due for regular vaccinations and deworming/flea treatments or needs medication, check with your veterinarian first to make sure they are safe.

We will also need to start feeding her a special food for kittens under one year old, as her nutritional needs change during pregnancy. You can also expect your pregnant cat to be hungrier than usual, as she eats about 1.5 times her normal diet towards the end of her pregnancy. Make sure she has constant access to her normal food. After the pregnancy comes the moment of birth. In the next section you will learn how to tell if a cat is in labor.

Knowing if our cat is pregnant can be a bit complicated at first. However, there are some signs and symptoms that indicate a cat pregnancy that are not mentioned in this article. Continue reading this other article to learn more about your cat's pregnancy and how to recognize the early signs.

How Do I Know if My Cat Is Going Into Labor? - Some cat pregnancy facts

How to tell if your cat is going into labor

Towards the end of the pregnancy, which lasts about two months, we should expect the labor to start at any time. The veterinarian who examined our cat may have given you a probable date of birth. It should be noted, however, that determining this date is not an exact science. It may be advanced or delayed a few days without pathology.

Your cat will start preparing for birth a few days before. You might notice that your cat is calmer and spends more time resting. Her movements become heavier and she may eat less. During the final week of pregnancy, the mammary glands of your cat will increase in size, and it is also possible that we see a drop of milk in the breasts.

Usually, cats choose a quiet and safe place to give birth, which they call "nesting." You can provide her with an easily accessible box of towels. It is important not to stress her, so it is best to keep your distance and avoid direct contact. However, you should keep a watchful eye on her and make sure everything is going well.

Symptoms of labor in a cat:

  • The cat is restless and, in some cases, clingy.

  • You might notice a brown or bloody discharge from the vulva. Even if you do not notice any secretion, your cat may start licking the vulva area frequently.

  • The cat will be pacing, getting restless and howling, meowing or chirping.

  • Breathing may be difficult, even with the mouth open. This is usually a sign that labor has begun, which is the movement the uterus makes to bring the puppies out.

  • If you look closely at her abdomen, you may be able to see the contractions.

Also, birth often happens at night, so it is likely that we will wake up one morning and meet the new family.

These signs indicate that labor has already begun in our cat. We will now describe the normal development of the process.

It is important to know that any cat can miscarry during its pregnancy. Since cats cannot communicate with us, it is essential that you learn to recognize their symptoms and help them quickly. Read this article about miscarriages in cats to learn more.

Labor and delivery

Now that you know how to tell if a cat is in labor, it is best to stay in the background. This is a stressful time for your cat. Do your best to keep her calm and give her the space and support she needs. Only intervene if our help is needed, for example, if there is heavy bleeding or if one of the kittens is not breathing.

Normally, kittens are born curled up in a gelatinous membrane called the amniotic sac about every 30 minutes. The mother cat is responsible for tearing the pouch and swallowing it, along with the placenta and umbilical cord, which she cuts herself in the process.

We will also observe that she immediately begins to vigorously lick her little ones, cleaning them, clearing their nostrils of possible secretions, stimulating their breathing and encouraging them to begin sucking so that they can absorb the all-important colostrum.

If for some reason, the mother cat decides not to open the bag and take care of her kitten, you must intervene for the kitten's sake. Use a soft towel to stimulate the kitten's breathing once the water has broken. However, be careful, because the newborn kitten is extremely sensitive.

Once mother and babies have calmed down, you can offer your cat food and especially water. You need to avoid manipulating the family, but you need to make sure everyone is doing well. In the first 24-48 hours after birth, your cat should be in a resting phase to restore her energy and have time to bond with her newborns.

Count to make sure your cat gives birth to the same number of placentas as kittens. Then quietly take the placenta away and dispose of it if your cat does not instinctively do so herself.

Learn more about how to take care of a cat and her kittens in this other article.

How Do I Know if My Cat Is Going Into Labor? - Labor and delivery

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How Do I Know if My Cat Is Going Into Labor?, we recommend you visit our Pregnancy problems category.

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How Do I Know if My Cat Is Going Into Labor?