PREPARATION FOR DELIVERY
You should begin to prepare for delivery at about the 58th day of pregnancy. A box should be provided for the mother to sleep in to ensure birth of the kittens in the area you desire. Most cats prefer a covered delivery box. Food and water can be kept nearby.
Place the box in a secluded, yet familiar area of the house, away from family traffic, to allow mother and kittens solitude and needed rest.
Newspapers make excellent bedding because they can be changed easily, they are absorbent and they can be shredded by the mother as she makes her ‘nest’. If materials such as old blankets, rags or mattress pad are used, they should be laundered frequently.
If you desire to know when delivery is near, record the rectal temperature twice daily, starting on the 60th day. Rectal temperature drops below 100oF within 24 hours before the onset of labour. Normal rectal temperature ranges from 100.5o to 102oF.
LABOUR AND DELIVERY
During the first stage of labour, the mother cat seems uneasy and quite restless. She may refuse food or water. The cat’s rectal temperature drops and she will seek dark, secluded places. Considerable howling may occur. This stage lasts from 12 to 24 hours.
In the second stage, contractions and expulsion of the kittens begin. Usually, a small, greenish sac protrudes from the vaginal opening. A kitten and its attached placenta (afterbirth) follow this.
The normal presentation of the kitten is nose first, lying on its abdomen. Some kittens, however, are born hindquarters first.
After delivery, the mother opens the sac, cleans off the kitten and bites off the umbilical cord. It is seldom necessary to perform these functions for the mother; this will be described under “Obstetrical Care”. Make sure the sac is removed immediately from the head if it is not broken during delivery.
The third stage of labour is a resting stage, which follows each delivery. This stage may last from a few minutes to a few hours. Occasionally, two kittens are delivered within a few minutes and then a resting stage occurs.
After each kitten is born the mother will usually remove all membranes covering the kitten with her tongue, cleaning off the face and removing mucus from the nose and mouth. If not, rub the kitten with a clean, dry towel in order to dry it and to stimulate breathing and circulation. After a few minutes of rubbing, the kitten will begin to squirm and cry.
The umbilical cord should be tied about 1 inch from the body with find thread and cut with scissors. Apply a drop of iodine to the cord after it is cut.
ASSISTING WITH THE BIRTH
If a kitten seems to be lodged in the birth canal and the mother is unable to expel it, rapid assistance is necessary. There may not be time to call your veterinarian and drive to the clinic if you wish to save the kitten.
Grasp the kitten with a clean towel and exert steady, firm traction. DO NOT JERK OR PULL SUDDENLY, the best place to grasp the kitten is by the skin of the back, but gentle traction on the front legs will do no harm. Pull downwards and backwards at an angle of 45 o between the tailbase and the perineum.
NOTIFY THE VETERINARIAN IF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING OCCURS:
• You are unable to remove a kitten lodged in the birth canal.
• There is strong and persistent labour for 30 minutes without a birth.
• There is weak, intermittent labour for 5 hours without any results.
• It has been more than 4 hours since the last birth and you suspect more kittens are present.
• There is a vaginal discharge and no labour or kittens with 3 to 4 hours.
• The pregnancy lasts more than 67 days.
• The kittens appear all born but the mother will not settle and allow them to suckle.
© Forrest Hill Vets (2000) Ltd