Cat Labor - Signs She May Be In Labor, And What To Expect During Birth

Cat labor has two stages - the beginning stage of nesting and contractions, and the second stage of stronger contractions and the birth of kittens.

During the first stage of cat labor, she will start showing these symptoms:

  • Nesting, including kneading/rearranging her bed or maternity box

  • Rapid Breathing/Rapid Pulse Rate

  • Trembling

  • Fluid May Drip From Nipples


She will be uncomfortable during the first stage of her labor, because the uterine contractions have begun and the kittens are moving into birthing position. She may have trouble getting comfortable and can shift or change positions a lot during this stage.

The first stage of cat labor can last from 12 to 24 hours. If she is a first time mom, she may be on the upper end of this scale.

If she is in the first stage of labor for longer than 24 hours, or moves to the second stage then back to the first, contact your vet for advice.

Second stage of labor signs are:

  • Forceful Straining, the contractions have gotten very strong and she is using her abdominal muscles to push

  • Fluid At Her Genitals, this does not appear for all cats

  • Crying Out, Vocalization

She will probably lay down during the cat birth, either on her side or on her chest.

It can take up to an hour for the first kitten to be born after she enters the second stage of labor.

Once the nose and paws of the kitten appear, the kitten should be born within 15 minutes. Call your vet if the birth of the kitten is past 15 minutes, or if the nose and feet appear then disappear during her pushing.

Some kittens are born feet first, as long as the delivery is moving along normally this should be fine.

After the kitten is born, the mother should nip the amniotic sac for the kitten to take its first breath! If she is a first time mom or very nervous, you may have to show her this. If she doesn't make a motion to do this right after the birth, step in and break the sac.

There is also a third stage to her labor and birth process - the stage of rest in between kittens. Some cats lay still, others may get up for a minute to walk around and stretch.

Have a bowl of water nearby, so she can refresh herself before the next kitten.

Sometimes the rest period is a few minutes between kittens, sometimes over an hour. She may use this time to groom her new babies and feed them.

The usual litter is three to five kittens, so she may be in labor for quite a while with rest in between.

If she is comfortable with someone being near her during the process, she may enjoy petting and words of encouragement. If she prefers quiet, do quick frequent checks to make sure she and the kittens are doing fine.

You will have fun with your new cat family!


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