What Are the Signs That Your Cat Is Going Into Labor?

Canine parvovirus (or just parvo) is an extremely contagious disease that any dog can get, but puppies in particular are most susceptible due to their young immune systems. The illness is gastrointestinal in nature and can be fatal if not treated early in your young dog.

Just like a human, when a cat is in her early stages of labor, she will have contractions that are supposed to push the babies down through the birth canal so she can deliver. Foul-smelling discharge that is green or yellow in appearanceA kitten lodged halfway out for an extended period of timeProlonged contractions of several hours that seem to not result in deliveryThe mother cat is lethargic or her breathing is shallow

If your puppy is exposed to canine parvovirus in any way, they can become infected and will quickly become ill, especially if your dog has not received their full series of vaccinations for the virus.

How long after a cat starts showing will she give birth?

A cat stays pregnant between 63 to 67 days, though it may be as long as 72 days. Often, a cat won’t display signs of pregnancy until two or three weeks into the term. That gives a pet owner a little more than a month to plan and prepare.

How do I tell how far along my cat is?

Some vet practices can diagnose cat pregnancy using ultrasound, sometimes as early as 15 days into her term. The vet may also be able to give you an indication of how many kittens your cat is expecting by day 40 of her pregnancy.

How can I help my cat go into labor?

You should put together a nesting box where your queen can give birth. This can be a cardboard box that’s big enough for her to lie down in and with tall enough sides so the kittens won’t fall out. Line it with plastic and then newspaper, which is easily removed if it becomes soiled, and cover it with a blanket.

If your cat is expecting kittens, it can be an exciting time waiting for those adorable little bundles of fluff to arrive. Youll likely want to make sure you have everything ready, so you should start watching for early signs of labor.

You can help by providing a box or high-sided bed full of soft blankets for your cat to choose from. Image Credit: Vladislav Karpyuk, ShutterstockAs your cat enters the last few weeks of her pregnancy , she may show a few temporary behavior changes.

Image credit: Bernhard Post, PixabayAround a week before your cat goes into labor, her mammary glands will get significantly bigger. It will give her kittens a vital health boost and help their immune and digestive systems start functioning. Image Credit: This road is mine, ShutterstockAround 1-2 days before your cat gives birth, her temperature will drop.

Image Credit: yvonneschmu, PixabayOne of the final signs to look out for is your cat starting to lick her genitals.

If you have a pregnant cat (queen) and it looks like she is ready to birth her kittens (queening), chances are that you will not need to do anything except encourage her. You may even wake one morning to discover that your cat has given birth during the night and is comfortably nursing her kittens. Although nature has a way of taking care of itself, you should know how to spot potential problems and what you might need to do to help.

Physical Changes in Labor: Your cat‘s rectal body temperature can drop to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit and it may vomit. You might see the abdomen “drop” a few days before labor, and the cat‘s nipples might get larger, darker, or pinker.

Active Labor Signs: Contractionsthe uterine movements that move the kitten down the birth canalmay make your cat yowl through the pain. If the box does not have a lid, then drape a clean towel over the top to hold the heat in and keep out drafts. Refuse bin: You will have a bunch of soiled towels after the birth, so have a laundry basket, plastic bag, or extra box ready for discarding them.

About 30 to 60 minutes may pass between births, but more prolonged periods are not uncommon. If there is a delay of over two hours and you are sure there are remaining kittens, the queen needs examination by a veterinarian. It takes, on average, half a day for a queen to give birth to all her kittens. The first kitten should arrive within an hour of the start of active labor. If you have been keeping the kittens in another box, move them back with the mother cat and help them find a nipple.

A break in birthing is a good time for you to offer her food, kitten milk replacement, or plain, unflavored yogurt.

During the final pregnancy, the glands of your cat will increase in size. Her glands are arranged in 2 parallel rows running along the outside body wall that extends from the groin area up to the underside of her chest. Cats usually have 4 pairs of mammary glands. Approximately 2 days before your cat gives birth, she’ll start to produce milk.

Behavior changes During the final week of the pregnancy, your cat will be hiding out as much as possible in a secluded place in the house, or she will become affectionate, mostly if she has a close relationship or feel trusted with one particular caregiver. However, you can prepare a birthing area for her, such as a cardboard or laundry basket with towels or blankets.

Dental floss and a pair of sanitized scissors If the mother cat does not break away the umbilical cord, you will need to tie it off with a piece of dental floss or a string or you may cut the cord with a clean and sanitized scissors. On average, it takes half a day for it to give birth to all her kittens. If you have been keeping the kittens in another box, move them back with the mother cat and help them find a nipple.

A break in birthing is a good time for you to feed her food, such as kitten milk replacement and unflavoured yogurt. If your kitten is lodged for more than 2 minutes, call your vet and they will give you the next steps If there’s a foul odor and bleeding, it indicates an infection or retained kitten.

1. Your cat will start to nest

As your cat prepares to give birth, she’ll want to make sure that she has the perfect safe place where she can look after her kittens. A sure sign that labor is imminent is the fact that your cat starts to make herself a cozy nest. You can help by providing a box or high-sided bed full of soft blankets for your cat to choose from.Bear in mind that her opinion of the best place to start building her nest may differ from yours! She’ll likely choose the place that she feels safest, and that may be in a corner of your bedroom, behind the couch, or another tucked-away spot. As long as her nest isn’t somewhere cold or completely inappropriate (like a bookshelf!), try to leave it where the mama cat has chosen. Kittens can’t regulate their own body temperature, so the nest must be somewhere warm and free of drafts. It’s also best that it’s off-access to other pets and kids, at least for the first week.

2. Her behavior may change

As your cat enters the last few weeks of her pregnancy, she may show a few temporary behavior changes. These can vary from cat to cat. Some cats will become much more solitary and spend time hiding away in a quiet place. Others will become far more affectionate and will always be seeking out attention from their owners. Some cats will be restless and seem unable to settle.Keep an eye out for these changes, and do your best to accommodate whatever your cat seems to need!

3. Her mammary glands will get larger

Around a week before your cat goes into labor, her mammary glands will get significantly bigger. This indicates that she’s starting to produce milk. You may also start to see a little waxy “plug” on each nipple. This shows that milk production is up and running. Some cats may lick these off, but don’t be tempted to touch them yourself. The first milk contains the colostrum, also known as “liquid gold.” This vital milk contains antibodies and is only produced for the first 72 hours after birth. It will give her kittens a vital health boost and help their immune and digestive systems start functioning.

4. Her appetite will decrease

As your cat’s pregnancy progresses, it may be uncomfortable for her to eat too much. Before this, you may have noticed that she was eating much more than usual! In the week or so before she goes into labor, her appetite may decrease dramatically. You can try offering her a palatable wet food in small portions, to tempt her to eat a little. As soon as her kittens are born, your cat’s appetite will likely increase rapidly! You can then free-feed her a nutritionally dense cat food to help her get back in condition and produce enough milk to help those kittens grow up big and strong.

5. Her temperature will drop

Around 1-2 days before your cat gives birth, her temperature will drop. The normal temperature range for cats is 100º to 102.5ºF. As your cat enters the early stages of labor, her temperature will drop to around 99ºF. If your cat will let you, you can take her temperature by placing a thermometer under her armpit. Don’t worry if that’s not possible, as you’ll most likely see other signs that indicate your cat’s labor is starting imminently.

Supplies for the Birthing

The duration of a cat pregnancy is roughly 60 days, give or take five days. If you are not so sure how far along your cat is, review the telltale signs that birth is imminent.

The Kitten Birthing Process

The trigger for the birth process is unknown, but factors include the size and weight of the uterus, size and weight of the fetuses, and the hormonal balances of the fetuses and the queen.During the birth process, rhythmical uterine contractions gradually increase to push the fetus out of the uterus and into the birth canal.The birth of one kitten can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. The kittens are born within their amniotic sacs, which the queen will remove. The mother cat will stimulate the kittens to breathe by washing them with her rough tongue. She will also sever the umbilical cord by chewing on it approximately one inch from the kitten’s body. She may also eat the placenta. The kittens will immediately gravitate toward a nipple, latch on, and nurse.If the mother cat ignores the kitten and it is still in its sac, you will need to carefully cut or tear the membrane pouch and stimulate the kitten’s breathing by rubbing its nose and mouth gently with a rough, dry towel. If the mother cat has difficulty biting off the umbilical cord, tightly knot dental floss around the umbilical cord 1 inch from the kitten’s body and cut the umbilical cord on the mother’s side of the tie.If a placenta does not come out with each of the kittens, make sure it expels within 24 hours after birth. Each kitten should have one placenta. It is a good idea to count the placentas. If the placenta remains in the cat, you will need to see a veterinarian.About 30 to 60 minutes may pass between births, but more prolonged periods are not uncommon. If there is a delay of over two hours and you are sure there are remaining kittens, the queen needs examination by a veterinarian. Whether the birth went smoothly or not, the mother cat and kittens should be examined by your veterinarian within 24 hours of birthing.

Mammary glands will increase in size

During the final pregnancy, the glands of your cat will increase in size. Her glands are arranged in 2 parallel rows running along the outside body wall that extends from the groin area up to the underside of her chest. Cats usually have 4 pairs of mammary glands. Approximately 2 days before your cat gives birth, she’ll start to produce milk.

Temperature will fall

A cat‘s normal temperature falls between 100 Fahrenheit to 103 Fahrenheit (37-39 Celcius). A day or two before giving birth, her temperature will drop to 99 Fahrenheit (37.2 Celcius). How to take your cat‘s temperature? You can simply take her temperature in the armpit if she lets you, most of the time there are enough other signs that labor is starting that you won’t need to worry about taking her temperature.

Decrease in appetite

Your cat may have a significant decrease in appetite, it can be caused by the weight of the kittens pushing against their mother’s stomach, or it could simply be a symptom of general anxiety.

Behavior changes

During the final week of the pregnancy, your cat will be hiding out as much as possible in a secluded place in the house, or she will become affectionate, mostly if she has a close relationship or feel trusted with one particular caregiver. Cats that become more affectionate will want the caregiver to be right at hand.

Licking her genitalia

Your cat will be licking her genitalia frequently, there will be discharge from the cat‘s vulva a few hours before she begins giving birth. Now is the time you might see your cat pacing, howling and being restless.

Supplies for the birthing

Most of the time, cats will want to hide to give birth. However, you can prepare a birthing area for her, such as a cardboard or laundry basket with towels or blankets. It would be easier for you to observe when it is giving birth. Here are the supplies that you will need:

Absorbent pads

You may use absorbent pads to line the delivery area

Towels

You will need towels or paper towels to clean the area

Nesting box

Before buying a nesting box, you may want to visit the vet with your cat to get an indication of how many kittens your cat is expecting. An average litter is about four kittens, however a cat can have anywhere between 1 to 12 kittens. A standard, 8-pound (3.6kg) cat should be fine with a box that is 16 inches by 24 inches. The larger the cat, the bigger the box it will need.

Refuse bin

You will have a bunch of towels and waste after birth, so have a bin or a box ready to discard them.

Extended contraction without birth

If your car is having more than 30 minutes of strong contractions without any kittens, take it and any kittens to your vet.

Kitten lodged in the birth canal

Most kittens are born head first, Breech (tail-first) occurs about 40% of the time and are considered normal. A kitten lodged in the birth canal for more than 10 minutes is likely to distress. If your kitten is lodged for more than 2 minutes, call your vet and they will give you the next steps

Postpartum hemorrhaging

Some bleeding after giving birth is normal, excessive bleeding or hemorrhaging is an emergency and requires immediate veterinarian attention. If pro-long, the mother cat can die. If the regular bleeding continues for more than a week after birth or the bleeding stops and then starts again, seek a veterinarian.