I figured since I was at it, I might as well complete the series with information and pictures of the birthing process. This page is pretty graphic, so if you happen to be a pet buyer who has just stumbled across this page by chance, if you are grossed out by blood and things of that sort, I warn you to leave this page without scrolling down.
For all of the rest of us that find this interesting, please read on.
So your cat is finally settled into her nesting box and she may be panting or yelling loudly. Next thing that will probably happen she will start to bear down (push) and her water will break and some greenish or brownish fluid will come out.
She will push off and on and you will finally see a bubble with brownish colored fluid in it. It might crown and recede for awhile. Do not panic, this can be showing for quite some time before the kitten comes out. If you break the bubble with your fingernails by pinching it, it can sometime help speed up the kitten delivery process. Each kitten is inside a amniotic sack which is surrounded by another bubble of fluid so the kitten floats down the birth canal smoothly.
bubble (sack that kitten floats down the birth canal inside of)
kitten coming feet first. breech birth is considered normal
Next you should see part of the kitten. Just like the bubble the kitten could crown and recede for awhile or it
can come out very quickly. I want to assure you, if you see any part of the kitten, do not panic.
I have read in many places that if you see any part of the kitten in the birth canal for more than 10 minutes, to take your cat to the vet. However, if i went according to this information, I probably would have taken every single one of my queens for every single birth to the ER vet. In my own experiences, many times there has been a little bit of the kitten showing in the birth canal for several hours and the kitten was still fine once it was delivered. I don't want to tell you to not call the vet, because it is your cat and the welfare of the cat and kittens is riding on you to make the right choices, but I just wanted to let you know that the kitten can be showing for some time without any ill effects, so don't panic. If you are worried, by all means call the vet and follow his advice though. I certainly don't want to be party to you not getting medical care when/if needed. If your cat seems distressed, please don't delay in seeing the vet.
If the kitten is coming out tail first, that's ok. Up to 40% of births are breech and it is considered normal.
I don't like to interfere with helping the kitten out unless it is obvious the mother is unable to get the kitten out. Sometimes if you start messing around too much the mother gets nervous and it actually slows the process down. If you decide to help her get the kitten out, lube her up first with KY jelly (NOT the warming kind..lol) and use a rag to get a grasp on the kitten. Pull VERY gently and with the contractions.
If the kitten comes head first, I always clear off the nose and mouth even if the kitten is not out of the birth canal yet. The membranes covering the kitten are hard to see. Most of the time if the kitten is not totally out of the birth canal you can't even tell the kitten is still covered with them, so I wipe the nose and mouth off just to be sure.
The kitten should come out with the placenta and membranes still attached. Sometimes the placenta comes out with the kitten and sometimes it stays up inside the mom and the kitten comes out and the kitten is hanging by it's cord. I usually give mom a little while (about 5 minutes or so) to push it out on her own but after that, if she still hasn't pushed it out and the kitten is still dangling by the cord I will grasp the cord as far away from the kitten as possible and gently but steadily pull the placenta out of mom. I am always very careful not to pull on the kitten when it is attached to the placenta when the placenta is still inside mom because the cord could rip away from the kitten's belly and cause the kitten to bleed to death. If the cord itself rips while I'm pulling out the placenta, I pinch the end of the cord where it has ripped to stop any blood flow and tie it off with dental floss about 1/4 " from the kittens body.
mom did not chew cord or remove placenta on this kitten so I have to take over
Once the kitten and the placenta are delivered, I clean off the membranes if I haven't done so already or I let the queen do it if she wishes. if she knows what she is doing, she should first clean off the membranes on the face and then start to eat the placenta and move down the cord till she gets about a 1/4" form the kittens body and chew it off there. If she dosen't do things in that order, I take over and clean the membrannes off. i then take a clean dry cloth and rub the kitten vigirously to stimulate breathing. Next I hold the placenta up so the blood inside it can drain into the kitten, tie off the cord with dental floss and cut it. After cutting the cord I usually swab some rubbing alcohol on the cut end to prevent infection from entering into the cord.
Note: I always let the queen eat all of the placentas if she wishs to do so. In the wild, a new mother probably cannot hunt for a few days after giving birth so she fills up by eating the placentas. I also believe that it cause the uterus to contract stronger and provides needed nutrients.
Sometimes after removal of the sac and stimulation the kitten is not breathing, or if it is breathing it might a little birthing fluid in it's lungs. You will know it does have fluid in the lungs if the kitten is making a raspy sound when it breathes. You should attempt to clear this fluid out by doing the swinging method. You can cradle the kitten in your hand, using your first two fingers to gently cradle the head and your other hand to securely but gently cradle her body (she should be laying upside down with her belly-side up). Next, perform a downward swing motion (as if you are shoveling), this allows for fluid to clear the lungs and kitten should gasp for air as you perform this motion, it may be necessary to perform this procedure a few times until you hear the kitten gasp or show signs of movement. Make sure that her nose and mouth are clear of mucous or fluid by gently wiping it away with a cotton ball or soft gauze pad. Remember, these methods must be performed GENTLY, but with enough gentle force to stimulate breathing and circulation.
If the kitten has any fluid in its lungs, you also might want to give it one shot of Penicillin. You can get these antibiotics from most livestock feed stores. It is helpful to have some on hand ahead of time. In this document there is an explaination of how to do it. If you have questions you can email me if you need to, and I'll try to help.
After that, I like to check each kitten for deformities or problems. Then I check the sex of each kitten, and make notes of everything. Some breeders weigh kittens when they are born, which is helpful in knowing weather or not your kittens are gaining weight like they should.
Once the kitten is all cleaned up and checked out, I will put it on a nipple. If the kitten doesn't latch on, I squeeze a bit of milk out and try it again. Sometimes they will nurse right away and sometimes they are a bit weak or tired to nurse so soon. It is good if the kitten will nurse right away, as it helps the queen to have stronger contractions.
If mom starts to push again or lays on the kittens while she's laboring, I will take them out and put them in a warm spot with a heated rice sock until she is in between kitten births. In between births if she is not pushing, I put them all back with her to nurse and cuddle. Sometimes I have to leave one kitten with her at all times or she will panic. One kitten is a lot more manageable than several wiggling kittens all crawling under her and on her trying to get milk. If this is the case, I usually rotate kittens I leave with her.
she's still giving birth
It may be several hours in between kitten births. Sometimes it is 6 hours or so in between some of the kittens and then several will come one right after the other. She may be resting in between but you can tell she is still in labor because her breathing will be heavy and she still might push a little bit.
With every kitten birth, you will see the lump in her tummy moving further and further down towards her back end as she starts to empty her uterus on both sides.
You will be able to tell she is done when she is resting peacefully and her heavy breathing is gone and when there is no more movement in her tummy. Usually it takes an average of one hour per kitten of total labor time. So if she's having 7 kittens I estimate the labor time to be 7 hours. Of course, labor time does vary, but this is the trend I notice with at least my girls. Sometimes several kittens come back to back and she will rest and start again, but the total overall "in labor" time is still usually what I estimate at one hour per kitten.
She still will be quite lumpy when she is finished as her uterus has been stretched out.
Sometimes a queen will stop labor for a day or so and then have one or two more kittens. This is normal.
Make sure you count the number of placenta that were delivered. If she retains a placenta, you will need to contact the vet for antibiotics or other medical care.
NOTE: As of 12/30/2014 I have a new email address. Please contact me at new email address above. Thank you.
(PLEASE NOTE: Te easiest and fastest way to get in contact with me is either through email, or through texting my cell phone, or both. I don't answer my phone very often so if you call and I don't answer or call you back, please try emailing me or texting me. Thank you.)
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