How do cats give birth?

Cats are very independent animals. Generally, cats would not need human intervention when they give birth. However, a pregnant cat would need to be as comfortable as possible. The cat would also need to be provided with the kind of diet needed by a cat with developing fetuses in her womb. And this, of course would be the role of the cat owner. The maternal instinct of the cat would come to the fore when it is about to give birth but it would help if the owner is by her side to provide assistance if anything goes wrong. Feline parturition generally has three stages. On the first stage, the uterine contractions will begin and the cervix will start to dilate. An odorless discharge will be noticed on the cat’s vagina. On the second stage, the queen will now deliver the kittens. The third stage is the passage of the placenta or the “after birth”. The queen will clean the kitten to stimulate breathing. As each kitten is born, the second and the third stages of delivery are repeated.

Uterine contractions is the signal that the queen is about to give birth. As the cervix opens, a clear and odorless discharge will be noticed. This discharge will be licked by the now rhythmically purring and panting cat. Contractions will increase and bloody discharge can come out from the cat’s vulva. Delivery is imminent but the arrival of the first kitten can occur in a few minutes or in a few hours. This is one of the situations cat owners have to watch out for. If the contractions are strong and the cat has been straining for over two hours without being able to deliver the first kitten, a vet’s attention would be very necessary.

On the second stage of labour, the cervix would be fully dilated and the strong contractions that would come closely one after another would cause the kitten to move down the birth canal. Urged by the pressure on the cervix, the queen will strain to push the kitten out. Normally, a water bag will burst. This will be licked clean by the mother cat. Some of the fluid will be retained in the inner layer of the pelvis to lubricate the passage of the kitten. This fluid will cause the dilation of the relaxed pelvis and ease the passage of the fetus in the vagina. In moments, the wedge-shaped head of the fetus will appear. The first kitten is born.

The third stage of delivery will follow immediately. During this stage, the membranes as well as the separated flesh colored after birth or placenta is delivered. The queen will lick the newborn clean. The umbilical cord will be cut by the queen’s teeth and usually, the placenta will be eaten. The queen will push the cleaned kitten towards a nipple. Contractions will begin again and delivery will resume. The second and third stage will be repeated every time a kitten is delivered. Delivery of the next kitten can occur in a few minutes but it is also possible for the next kitten to be delivered after a few hours. This situation is known to happen in cats that are very dependent to the owners. If the owner leaves, the cat would stop delivering the kittens and will only resume after the return of the owner. However, if it is obvious that the cat is distressed and unable to deliver the kitten after a few hours, help must be given.

Cats usually do not need help in the birthing process. An owner can take a back seat and simply enjoy the unfolding wonders of creation. However, it would be necessary to know the signs that the pet is having a difficult delivery. Prompt assistance is necessary to save the queen and the litter.