What to Do After Cat Gives Birth?

While you’ve been an attentive cat owner, meeting the needs of your pregnant cat, after she has the kittens, you need to know your next steps. During this delicate time, your observational skills are essential. Take a look at some guidance on how to handle the mother cat and her kittens as well as warning signs of health issues and kitten developmental milestones.

Make sure the room is warm enough as kittens are unable to regulate their body temperature when they are only a few days old. These specially formulated foods ensure that a nursing, postpartum mother cat gets the nutrients she needs.

Three days after birth, a kitten’s eyes start opening, and the umbilical cord will also fall off. For the first three weeks, the mother cat will lick each kitten around the abdomen and anal area after nursing to encourage the elimination of waste. A new mother has a flood of hormones, milk production begins, and recovery from the birth process is in full swing.

The teats become swollen and hot, with apparent “bruising,” and the mother cat may refuse to allow the kittens to nurse . Hypocalcemia, also known as “milk fever,” is rare in cats, but it is another veterinary emergency. This condition can result from a lack of calcium during pregnancy and nursing.

What should I do after my cat gives birth?

Make sure you are feeding her a high-quality canned kitten food, supplemented with KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement). These specially formulated foods ensure that a nursing, postpartum mother cat gets the nutrients she needs.

Can I touch my cat after birth?

Vets recommend not touching kittens unless you have to while their eyes are still closed. You can check on them to make sure they’re healthy and gaining weight, but try to limit direct physical contact. The kitten’s mother will also let you know how comfortable she is with you handling her babies.

What should a mother cat eat after giving birth?

Nursing mother cats need to eat a high quality kitten formula food. If she is a picky eater, do not hesitate to try feeding her canned tuna, chicken or salmon. Do not give cow’s milk to cats, despite popular belief, it is impossible for cat’s to digest and often causes serious stomach upset.

How long after a cat has kittens can you touch them?

The ASPCA also noted you don’t want to wait longer than two weeks before starting to handle the kittens. Pick a kitten up, hold him for a minute or two, gently stroking him, and then return him to his mom. It’s important not to keep young kittens away from their mom for more than a few minutes at a time.

6 Complications to Look Out For After Your Cat Gives BirthAfter giving birth to kittens, have you noticed that your cat seems sick, perhaps isnt eating, appears too thin, or lacks the energy to take care of her newborns? While most cats give birth to normal, healthy kittens without any complications or assistance, sometimes a queen and her kittens need medical intervention. Continue reading to learn about normal post-birthing signs and which post-birthing complications indicate your cat may need veterinary care.Are you concerned about your pet? Book a video consultation with an experienced veterinarian within minutes. Professional vet advice online Unlimited vet visits – for just $90 Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year Rating: 4.9 – more than 1600 reviewsRating: 4.9 – more than 1300 reviewsRating: 4.9 – more than 1600 reviews Book Video Consultation Normal Post-Birthing Signs in CatsMost people dont see post-birthing vaginal discharge in their cats because they’re fastidious about grooming themselves and keeping themselves clean. Normal vaginal discharge is greenish-black to brick red with no significant odor. The discharge becomes more red-brown and decreases in amount over 4-6 weeks and up to 12 weeks after giving birth.Sometimes people get concerned because they dont notice the newborn kittens urinating or having stools. Queens (another term for female cats) will clean and stimulate their kittens to urinate and have a bowel movement while licking them, ingesting the urine and stool in the process.Types of Post-Birthing Complications in CatsHere you can find a list and brief description of complications that can be seen after a cat has given birth:1. Retention of Fetal MembranesSometimes a queen wont pass the final set of fetal membranes/tissue after birthing is completed. When this happens, the membranes will begin to break down and rot in her uterus. The queen often becomes restless and experiences discomfort in her belly area and wont want to nurse, lay with, or take care of her kittens. She may eat very little or refuse food and water, and a brownish vaginal discharge may be evident. If you notice these signs, your cat requires immediate veterinary care. The vet may recommend diagnostic tests as well as appropriate treatment which may include antibiotics, pain medications, and hospitalization.2. Metritis or EndometritisMetritis and endometritis are types of inflammation of the uterus. It usually happens within 3 days of giving birth in cats. Queens will be much sicker than with retention of fetal membranes. Signs include fever, completely ignoring her kittens, refusing food, and not being active. She may also vomit and drink more water than usual. There will be a foul-smelling, deep red wine or black-colored discharge evident from her vagina. She needs emergency veterinary care which will include a complete exam, diagnostic tests, supportive care including intravenous (IV) fluids, antibiotics, pain management, and more.3. MastitisMastitis, meaning inflammation of the mammary glands, can occur during early lactation or nursing. Mastitis typically affects one mammary gland and results in a firm, hot, painful, and enlarged mammary gland. The cause may be simple congestion of the milk ducts, and application of gentle heat and massage will allow milk to come out of the teat orifice or opening. Gently milking the affected gland can quickly relieve the situation. If the mastitis is due to infection, the gland will be painful, swollen with an abnormally colored discharge from the nipple, and the cat will refuse food, be feverish, and inactive.An abscess can also form, resulting in a purplish area of tissue with thick, foul-smelling discharge. Mastitis due to infection requires immediate veterinary treatment which will include a complete exam, diagnostic tests, supportive care including intravenous (IV) fluids, antibiotics, pain management, and more.4. Eclampsia (Milk Fever)Eclampsia, also called milk fever or lactation tetany, can occur 3-5 weeks after giving birth to kittens. This happens due to a sudden drop in the amount of calcium circulating in the nursing queens bloodstream, related to the increased demands of milk production. Often, the cat is nursing a large litter of kittens.Early signs of milk fever include restlessness, panting, muscle tremors, and incoordination. Without treatment, it can progress to tetanic (rigid, stiff-legged) muscular spasms, followed by convulsions (seizures) or coma. This is a life-threatening condition. If you suspect your cat is developing milk fever, seek veterinary care right away.Treatment involves IV injections of calcium preparations with rapid reversal of the condition. The queen may need to be hospitalized with monitoring of her calcium levels until she is stable. Be sure to remove the kittens from the queen and support them with bottle feeding or wean them if theyre old enough.For information on raising or bottle-feeding orphaned kittens, click on the following link:How to Feed and Care for Newborn KittensAffected queens will often have a recurrence of milk fever with subsequent litters. Talk to your vet before deciding to continue breeding an affected queen due to the increased risk of recurrence.5. Cesarean Section (C-section)After a C-section surgery, monitor the queen closely for the first 2-3 days. Make sure shes comfortable, eating, drinking, nursing, and taking care of the kittens as well as urinating and having normal stool. Monitor her incision for pain, heat, swelling, or discharge. Contact your vet if you notice any of these signs. Make sure she receives all medication prescribed by the vet, including antibiotics and pain medications.6. CannibalismQuietly observe and do not leave first-time mothers or nervous queens alone with their kittens until youre sure she will not cannibalize or eat them. Use Feliway diffusers or spray to help calm nervous, anxious, or agitated queens.Read more:Understanding Cat Pregnancy and BirthNeed to speak with a veterinarian regarding your cat‘s pregnancy or another condition?Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.Dr. Denise MichanowiczLast updated: 2021-11-01

If you have ever owned a female cat and she has given birth in your home you will know there are certain things you must and must not do. As an inexperienced pet owner it is worth your while taking note of the suggestion guidelines below.

Caring for cats as mentioned on AnimalsA2Z , a website dedicated to giving information about animals requires that you provide their needs close to them so they dont have to wander far from their kittens.

Veterinarian Check

If you haven’t already done so, after one week, take the mother cat and kittens to your veterinarian for a well-check. If the mother cat was not vaccinated, this would be a good time to do it. Also, she might get treatment for roundworms, to protect both her and her kittens.

New Kitten and Mother Cat Care

The first two to three weeks are the most crucial for a mother cat and her newborn kittens. The kittens should be developing rapidly, and if the mother is going to have any postpartum problems, it will happen during that period.Let the mother cat set the pace for your attention. If she has been your pet for a while, she may welcome your visits. A rescued stray or fostered cat may prefer that you stay away. As long as the kittens are nursing frequently and appear to be thriving, they will be OK.Keep the mother cat and her babies in a quiet part of the house; a separate room is ideal. Make sure the room is warm enough as kittens are unable to regulate their body temperature when they are only a few days old. The mother cat can keep the babies warm, but if she leaves to eat or use a litter box, the kittens can get cold. Chilling is one of the most critical dangers to newborn kittens. Provide blankets, a heat lamp, or a heating pad to ensure the kittens stay warm.Use a large enough box to comfortably hold the mother cat and her kittens. Stack clean towels to line it. The towels will become soiled quickly as the kittens defecate. It will be easiest to remove the top towel to reveal a clean layer.Keep the mother cat‘s litter box, food, and water bowls close by. Make sure you are feeding her a high-quality canned kitten food, supplemented with KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement). These specially formulated foods ensure that a nursing, postpartum mother cat gets the nutrients she needs.

Kitten Developmental Milestones

Three days after birth, a kitten’s eyes start opening, and the umbilical cord will also fall off. Their nervous systems are not fully developed; you may notice them twitching during sleep. This twitching is entirely normal and indicates the development of their nervous system and muscles.By two weeks, the kittens will start crawling around and will be attempting to stand. Their teeth will be starting to come in during this time. If you put your finger in their mouth, you will be able to feel tiny teeth nubs.For the first three weeks, the mother cat will lick each kitten around the abdomen and anal area after nursing to encourage the elimination of waste. In her absence, you will need to simulate this task with a warm, damp washcloth.By three weeks, the kittens should be walking around and actively playing. You can introduce them to wet food and supplement it with KMR. They should still be actively nursing. You can also introduce them to the litter box. At this age, avoid clumping clay litter. The best litter for young kittens is any premium non-clay litter or the World’s Best Cat Litter.

Health Issues in Newborn Kittens

Intestinal parasites are most common in kittens. Other health problems in young kittens are infectious diseases, such as respiratory infections, and congenital diseases.Fading kitten syndrome occurs when a kitten fails to thrive. If you notice one of the kittens is generally more lethargic and sleeping a lot more than its siblings, it can be a sign of the syndrome. That kitten requires immediate attention from a veterinarian who specializes in kitten care.

Postpartum Health Issues

Pregnancy, birth, and the period after delivery are a stressful time for the body of a new mother. A new mother has a flood of hormones, milk production begins, and recovery from the birth process is in full swing. There are a few severe conditions to keep an eye out for in your mother cat.

Mastitis

Mastitis is a bacterial infection of the milk ducts, which occurs when the mother cat‘s milk production gets blocked by inflamed mammary glands. The teats become swollen and hot, with apparent “bruising,” and the mother cat may refuse to allow the kittens to nurse. Mastitis is a veterinary emergency. The cat usually needs antibiotics to fight the infection. The kittens may need to be hand-fed until the mother cat has recovered.

Hypocalcemia

Hypocalcemia, also known as “milk fever,” is rare in cats, but it is another veterinary emergency. This condition can result from a lack of calcium during pregnancy and nursing. Symptoms include seizures, staggering, muscle tremors, restlessness, and excessive panting. While the mother recovers, the kittens will need to be fed by hand.

Don’t handle the cat – Just observe

While your cat is still pregnant, you must have consulted with your vet already and have done your own research to get tips and recommendations. By the time your cat is actually giving birth already, it is best to keep a close eye on her and minimize your interference. There are a few things to worry about and when you see that the cat is having a crisis, feel free to get in touch with the vet immediately. The signs to look for are loud and in pain cries, too much bleeding, the kitten’s head getting stuck, and the mother cat trying to run away. Following the days of the birth, regularly check for the health of the kittens and recovery of the mother cat.

Don’t Interfere

Unless the behavior is extreme, do not attempt to even give a hand during the delivery because it might just upset the cat. With the aftercare, do not try to cleanse the kittens yourself and give them a bath. Caring for cats as mentioned on AnimalsA2Z, a website dedicated to giving information about animals requires that you provide their needs close to them so they don’t have to wander far from their kittens. Give their litter box and their feeding bowls close to them. When it comes to food, choose something that can complement their lost nutrition so they can regain their health back and recover from giving birth. You can also give them vitamins and other supplements. Prepare a place where your cat can put their babies and lure them into a more comfortable place and let the mother cat transfer the kittens herself.