My Pregnant Cat is Leaking Fluid
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A cat's reproductive behavior is more complicated than we often think. We know that they go into heat, but we don't necessarily know what implication this has on the cat's well-being. During their heat period, they undergo both behavioral and physical changes. Vaginal discharge is one such physical change which can confuse cat guardians. While such discharge may be a normal sign of their reproductive cycle, it can also be a worrying issue. When a cat is pregnant and they present with vaginal fluid or discharge, we need to consider the health of both mother cat and kittens.
In this AnimalWised article on my pregnant cat is leaking fluid, we look at all the possible causes for this issue. We explain what this could mean for the health of queen and kitten, as well as what treatment options may be available.
Timeline of a pregnant cat
Before going on to explain why a pregnant cat has fluid, it is helpful to be clear about some general aspects of cat pregnancy and labor. The timeline of a cat pregnancy is as follows:
- Heat cycle: while male cats usually reach sexual maturity between 6 and 12 months of age, a female cat can become pregnant as young as 4 months. After this time the cat will go into its heat cycle, a process which can occur at any time of year, but usually occurs every two to three weeks between spring and autumn.
- Inception: male cats don't have heat cycles and will seek out females in heat at any point. If copulation is successful, the female cat will be pregnant.
- Gestation: there will not be immediate obvious signs your cat is pregnant. However, if you notice your unspayed cat stops their heat cycle, this could be an initial sign. After 2 - 3 weeks, the pregnancy can be confirmed by an ultrasound, but you are not likely to tell a cat is pregnant simply by feeling their belly until about 30 days.
- Labor: a cat's gestation period lasts 63-65 days in total. After this time they will start to show signs of labor. If your cat has reached 65 days and labor does not begin, you may need to consult a veterinarian. Kittens will be born one be one and arrive in an amniotic sac which the mother instinctively knows to break open.
The cat will usually give birth without complications, but we need to be aware of their possibility. One of them is the emission of leaking fluid from the vulva. It is important to know that some vaginal discharge is normal, but the quality and consistency will let us know if there is any concern.
A pregnant cat may also leak fluid from their nipples. The mother cat (known as a ‘queen’) will go through a process known as pinking where her nipples become reddened and enlarged. However, if the leaking fluid changes color or has a foul odor, this is a sign of problems in the pregnancy.
The best way to avoid pregnancy complications in your cat is to keep them healthy. This means feeding them sufficiently with quality food, maintaining deworming and vaccination schedules and taking them to the veterinarian for necessary checkups. After some time, the veterinarian will also be able to determine how many kittens will be in the litter.
Leaking fluid from a pregnant cat is not always observable because the cat licks their vagina or nipples regularly. For this reason, we need to be vigilant for any signs of discomfort or change in the cat's behavior to troubleshoot complications.
My pregnant cat is leaking yellow fluid
If our pregnant cat has white, clear or yellowish fluid leaking and has reached the end of her gestation period, it may simply indicate the beginning of labor. We are likely able to observe leaking fluid after the mucus plug is detached. The mucus plug is a protective barrier of cervical mucus which is used to stop bacteria from entering the uterus. It is detached to make way for the soon-to-be-birthed kittens.
Detachment of the mucus plug can begin between a week and three days before delivery, so it doesn't mean labor will begin immediately. The leaking mucus is a more or less fluid consistency, but the plug itself will be viscous.
When the leaking fluid is clear, it usually means the amniotic sac has broken and amniotic fluid is leaking from the vulva. This means the kittens should emerge shortly. This is the equivalent of when a woman's ‘water’ breaks. If you see the presence of amniotic fluid, but there has been no delivery after a few hours, there may be a problem in the pregnancy. Contact a veterinarian immediately. The reason could be due to stillbirth or obstructed labor, something known as labor dystocia.
On the other hand, if your pregnant cat is leaking fluid, but it is not yet at full term, it is likely a veterinary emergency. The secretion could be coming from either the uterus or the urinary tract. The reason could be an infection. Keep in mind, when there is an infection, it usually appears cloudy, very yellow or even reddish if it contains blood.
For all of the above, when a pregnant cat has white or clear liquid leaking from their vulva, the most common reason is the beginning of labor. If the liquid looks yellow or purulent and it is too early for a healthy labor, it may be an infection. You should take the queen to a veterinarian immediately.
My pregnant cat is leaking green fluid
As in the previous section, the expulsion of a greenish liquid in a pregnant cat can precede the arrival of a new litter. When the kittens follow soon after and labor progresses normally, there should be no issue. If they are not born soon, you should seek veterinary help. If we observe green vaginal discharge, we may also be witnessing dystocia which will mean the kittens need help being birthed.
If our mother cat is leaking green fluid, but is not yet in labor, then she may be facing an infection. It is also possible the pregnancy has been aborted for whatever reason. Feline pregnancies can be damaged by factors attributable to the mother or kittens. Complications of feline pregnancy could be due to:
- Bacterial infection
- Viral infection
- Genetic abnormalities
- Poor diet
- Side effect to medication
- Physical trauma
The above causes are the reasons why it is so important to not only take care of the mother cat, but also to ensure there are no dangers in their environment. We should also stress that there are many kittens and adult cats which are not being adopted even though shelters are overflowing. This is why spaying and neutering is so beneficial to both the individual cat and larger feline population.
If the pregnancy is aborted early on, the fetuses will be reabsorbed into the body. This should not produce much leaking fluid, but if there is any the mother cat will likely lick before we even see. When the pregnancy is more advanced, the discharge will contain tissue related to the pregnancy and the embryos will emerge due to miscarriage.
It is possible for one or more kittens to come to full term, but to be stillborn. This could be because they were aborted earlier on in the pregnancy, but could not be absorbed. There may also be dead fetuses in the uterus which still need to be expelled because they can pose a health risk to the mother. Stillborn kittens are usually eaten by the mother. This is not a bad behavior, but a natural action which allows the mother to maintain hygiene for the other kittens and to reabsorb nutrients.
My pregnant cat has brown discharge
If your pregnant cat is leaking dark, brown or red fluid, it is usually indicating the presence of an internal bleed. The cause of this internal bleeding may be due to various factors. These causes may be:
- Obstructed labor (dystocia)
- Kidney problems
It is important to note that the presence of blood in discharge from a pregnant cat is not normal. A cat which is about to go into labor will not usually spot or present with blood. After birthing the kittens, there could be a vaginal tear, blood from the placenta or other reasons for a cat bleeding after giving birth.
Determining the source of the bleeding is also very important as it is possible the blood is in urine and not coming from the uterus. When blood appears in a pregnant cat's discharge, it is vital you take them to a veterinarian immediately. A veterinarian will also be able to determine whether there is not another issue present such as false pregnancy.
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 My Pregnant Cat is Leaking Fluid, we recommend you visit our Pregnancy problems category.
- Manresa, I. (2018). Preparation to childbirth. Extracted from Management of the pregnant female. Ateuves nº 43. pp. 30-35.
- Peña, A. (2016). Complications in the birth of the dog and the cat . Extracted from pregnancy, childbirth and complications in childbirth. Ateuves nº 17. pp. 36-42.
- Velázquez, MA and Nuñez, H. (2008). Pregnancy failure and neonatal losses in the domestic cat (Felis catus). Veterinary Portal.