It is absolutely ok to worry about your pregnant cat and about unborn kittens, but the most important thing you need is to focus on getting prepared. Before the labor pregnant cats are usually anxious and need maximum attention from their owner – that is why it is so important to think about purchasing medications and materials in advance. Sure it may turn out so that you won’t use some of them. However, it is important to stock up on everything you may need, as in emergency case you won’t have time to do that.
For inexperienced owners we recommend discussing possible questions with professional veterinarians. Find out if it is possible to arrange a vet visit and assistance at first signs of labor. Arrangements should be made with at least two veterinarians: ask about possible consultation on the phone and about their anytime visit if first signs of delivery are noticed. Why two vets? Murphy’s Law: veterinarians often go on vacations or just aren’t available on the day X. If your cat is bought at the nursery, be sure to inform the breeder of the upcoming birth. Any responsible breeder is likely to consult the owner on the phone giving valuable tips.
Medicines, tools and supplies
Preparing for cat labors includes providing your pet with everything necessary for obstetrics:
- sterile gauze, cotton wool and bandages;
- absorbent nappies, not flavored;
- cloth napkins, ironed and tucked away in plastic bags;
- sterile surgical gloves (two or three pairs);
- waffle towel or a piece of cloth with similar characteristics (if you suddenly need to massage a newborn kitten);
- a catgut or a surgical suture for umbilical ligation of 10-15 cm (as soon as the first signs of labor appear put the catgut of the suture into a glass with alcohol for disinfection);
- small scissors with rounded tips;
- baby syringe to aspirate fluid from kitten’s nose and mouth;
- kitchen scales, a watch, a pen and a notebook. Thoroughly taken notes make the work of a veterinarian significantly easier (it is impossible to remember all the information and numbers during the labor, even experienced breeders always take notes);
- hydrogen peroxide, brilliant green antiseptic, potassium permanganate, boiled or sterile vaseline of room temperature;
- oxytocin, glucose, Sulfocamphocainum 10%, calcium gluconate, vitamin B12. All that in vials for injection, apply strictly after consultation with a veterinarian;
- disposable insulin and regular syringes;
- ammonia and some brandy (to bring to life a weak kitten or an impressionable owner);
- plastic bags for waste.
Place for giving a birth
By the time cat’s behavior before the delivery becomes anxious, the pet should find the maternity box and have time to inspect it. In this box the cat is desirable to raise kittens, so the thing should appear in the house about a week before the important event. It is important that the cat considered it safe. Otherwise, your cat may choose a place on its own. That place can be a closet, a secluded corner behind the sofa or the space under the bath, which is not only inconvenient for observing the process, but also dangerous for kittens. It is impossible to convince a delivering cat: no matter how many times the owner brings it to the box – the cat will return to the selected area and will bring there the litter.
About the maternity box: that should be a regular box of suitable size making it comfortable for the cat to lie inside in any direction, and at the same time comfortable and spacy enough for kittens. The height should be about half a meter (1,5 feet) or so. The access hole should be cut in one of the walls at a distance from the floor that would be comfortable for the cat getting inside and preventing the kittens from getting out of the box. The access hole width should be slightly larger than the pet’s chest width. Remove the top of the box and cover it with a blanket attached to the walls (that would make it easier to clean the house, to care and to watch the kittens). At the bottom of the box put a mattress wrapped in a film or in some waterproof fabric (the discharge before the delivery may make it wet) and then cover it with an absorbent cloth. After the labors put a regular sheet on the mattress (you should have several as they need to be changed daily).
Before the delivery the cat is likely to move to the cozy maternity box. If the cat didn’t, the owner should bring the pet to the box pat and soothe, making it clear that it is the best place for giving birth to kittens.
The larger the box is, the more difficult it is to maintain constant temperature inside and the harder it is for kittens to find each other. At the same time there should be no squeeze. A perfect place for the box is quiet, secluded, not in a draft, not at the radiator, not next to the door or window.
For temporary holding kittens you may use a small clean box. Put a folded sheet to the bottom and be sure to put a hot-water bottle under it). This box is required for holding newborns if mother-cat’s behavior gets anxious before giving a birth to the next kitten. The cat may accidentally crush already born kittens when moving around and or changing the position – that’s why newborn kittens are put in that small box so that they remained in the field of view of their mother.
What are the signs of forthcoming delivery?
It is important that during the last week of pregnancy there was always a family member next to the pregnant cat. During this period, you shouldn’t let the cat go for a walk – it can give birth right there. If the pet isn’t trained to use a litter box you have to regularly take it outside. Signs of forthcoming delivery in cats shouldn’t be overlooked, because you can miss the moment when the pet needs your help!
The last week of pregnancy is more a series of successive periods of absolute calm and strong excitement. The cat sleeps a lot stretching itself, lounging being tired of its heavy belly and gathering strength to perform a responsible task. When the pet gets bored it starts “exploring” the apartment, digging the bed or throwing the things out of the wardrobe – at this point you should carefully carry the cat to the maternity box for the mother-to-be to get used to it. Satisfied, the cat usually falls asleep again for a long time. Other signs of labor in cats are: rapid breathing with protruding tongue, loss of appetite, thirst, anxiety.
In the last days of pregnancy it is advisable to regularly measure the cat’s temperature: if it drops to 99.5 °F – the labor starts in maximum one day. Just before the delivery the temperature rises to normal or becomes slightly above normal – it means there are just several hours left. If the temperature suddenly rises to about 104 °F – consult the vet immediately.
The last sign is mucus plug discharge. This plug covered the cervix, preventing infections. Normally the discharge in a cat before the delivery is transparent, sometimes yellowish. The liquid may be also slightly pinkish or may contain some blood clots – it is okay, just the sign of damaged capillaries due to cervix dilatation. In most cases when the labor starts without pathologies – cat owners don’t even notice that. But the pet “gives a clue” frequently and thoroughly licking itself to remove mucus. If there is a lot of fluid, the mucus is cloudy, bloody or purulent, evil smelling – immediately consult the vet, perhaps the pet needs medical aid.