In general, your assistance won’t be required, but it’s a good idea to be there, if the mother cat will endure your presence, to monitor the process in case something goes wrong. Keep the area quiet, especially if this is your cat’s first delivery; talk in whispers and avoid bright lights.
When the kitten is born, it may be enclosed in the amniotic sac. If so, the mother cat should chew open the sac immediately, so that the kitten can breathe, and stimulate the kitten by licking it. The mother should then chew apart the umbilical cord. After birth, the queen may eat the placenta – that’s okay.
If your cat does not chew open the sac immediately, gently tear it open yourself and clean the mucus from the kitten’s mouth with your finger. Wait a few minutes to see if the mother chews the umbilical cord. If not, tie it tightly with a piece of thread that has been dipped in alcohol about one inch from the kitten’s abdomen. Using scissors that have been dipped in alcohol, cut the cord on the mother’s side of the thread. Rub the kitten gently with a clean, soft towel to stimulate circulation and respiration.
Kittens, like humans, may enter this world head first or feet first. If only a part of the kitten shows, wrap a clean cloth around the slippery newborn’s body and, as the mother strains, pull it gently all the way out. Pause when the queen relaxes. Call your doctor if you are not able to deliver the kitten.
If a kitten is not breathing, wrap it in a warm towel with its head down (but support the head so it doesn’t wobble) and shake it downward. This should stimulate respiration and remove fluid from its breathing tubes. If a breath still is not taken, gently blow into the kitten’s nose until its chest expands, and try rubbing it in a warm, rough towel to stimulate respiration.
The mother cat may rest anywhere from fifteen minutes to two hours between deliveries. After all the kittens are born, the mother will stop straining. Instead, your cat will comfortably lick and clean the new kittens.
Within twenty-four hours after the delivery, which in most cases occurs with no problems, the mother and kittens may be examined by your doctor. In general, however, most veterinarians don’t feel that cats need to be checked or given a hormone injection after a trouble-free delivery. Be sure to keep the kittens warm if a trip to the office is necessary. A snug blanket placed in a box is perfect.
The doctor will palpate the queen’s abdomen to make certain all the kittens were delivered. The mother will be given an injection of a hormone (oxytocin) to involute (shrink) the uterus and stimulate milk flow from the breasts. Your veterinarian will determine the little ones’ sexes, weigh them, and check for birth defects, such as cleft palates, hare lips, heart problems, and umbilical hernias.
If there are any problems at all during delivery, telephone your doctor. If a kitten is stuck in the birth canal and you have tried gentle help, professional manipulation may solve the problem. Sometimes an episiotomy (an incision between the upper end of the vagina and the anus that enlarges the vaginal opening and eases the birth of the kitten) is necessary.
Occasionally, uterine inertia (weak contractions of the uterus) will occur during delivery. If the mother is obese, old, upset by many people in the room, or has been straining for a long time, the uterus may become tired and stop squeezing the kittens out efficiently. Injections of oxytocin may help.
In some instances, a cesarean birth (surgical removal of the kittens through the abdominal wall) is necessary. Timing is very important. but the surgery is generally fast and safe. After recovery from the anesthesia. the mother can nurse the kittens and go home. The sutures are removed in ten days.
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