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Cat Labor -
Should You Interfere?

cat laborWhile it is true that you do not need to interfere much in cat labor, but help available can mean the difference between live kittens and disappointment.

Much preparation goes into producing a quality litter of kittens. You will need to know your breed well. There are times that animals with rounded heads such as Persians can have kittens get ‘stuck’ and without immediate surgery you can lose not only the litter but your queen.

Have a supply kit put together to best prepare for everything up to that point. For those with longer haired queens that are cooperative you might have a helper assist holding while you carefully use electric clippers to remove the long hair on the belly. This helps the kittens be able to find the nipples to nurse easier. Be very careful that you don’t accidentally clip a nipple in this task!

Have a quiet place for the queen to retreat to have her babies but in a controlled situation you can observe. Your “delivery room” should include:

• sterile gloves,
• betadine,
• sterile hemostats and scissors,
• sterile gauze,
• dry cotton rags,
• towels,
• a clean bowl,
• a bulb syringe,
• oxytocin with sterile syringes.

Sometimes if another kitten is coming the queen can ‘forget’ the first one. Be ready to help the kittens get out of the sacs they’re enclosed in. Clear the airway as soon as possible and if the mother doesn’t begin cleaning the kitten use a clean towel to do so. Rub gently but vigorously to keep the blood moving and get the breathing going.

special note: For a new breeder, cat labor can be scary. That is why it is best if you have a mentor close by so you can arrange to have your mentor available during delivery.

Leave the umbilical cord attached as long as possible. This pumps life-giving blood into the kitten. If the queen has not severed it after 5-10 minutes use your hemostats or gauze to slow the flow and clip the cord on the side furthest from the body.

Avoid drafts and commotion while the queen is in labor and as the kittens are dry set them on a warmed water bottle covered with a towel and/or under a light to keep them warm. A heating pad is too warm and can make the queen restless instead of comfortable.

A kitten that is chilled can be placed in warm water, carefully holding the head above water and drying thoroughly. This can warm a chilled kitten easier – the difference between a warm bath and sitting in front of a fire is it soaks in without cooking the front and remaining cold behind!

If you’re watching and it’s approaching a half hour since the last kitten call the veterinarian and get her in for an emergency C-section. This is a cat labor expense that many do not see or consider and yet when it’s needed it is urgent to get to the vet as quickly as possible.

Happy, healthy kittens are a rewarding part of raising cats. May all of yours be healthy.

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