Kittens are very fun to have, but i'm sure many of you have never actually seen a cat give birth. This miracle of life can be a once in a lifetime experience, so you don't want anything to go wrong! We fostered a cat named Juniper that was very pregnant, and we didn't have any idea of what to do for her! I hope these instructions will help families dealing with similar problems. :D
Step 1: Preparing a Space
Most of us are born in hospitals, in nice beds, and then placed in warm cribs with fluffy blankets. It should be the same for cats! Plastic boxes are the best for this, because sometimes giving birth can be messy, and cardboard beds may leak. Make sure the cat has room to lay on her side, and is able to stretch out. Put towels in the box, so that it's cozy, but also very sanitary. Finally, if you would like to, put warm blankets on top of the towels. The perfect bed! Make sure it is away from other pets, and maybe in a bedroom were she won't stress out because of loud sounds, or other animals.
Step 2: Be Able to Know the Signs
Usually, a cat that is close to labor will give signs, so you can tell when to be ready. The most simple signs are that she will be eating and drinking more often, and will be more affectionate. She will also be looking for a spot when she is in labor, so the cat will be sniffing around secure places. (Hopefully, she will choose the box you got all ready for her. Not all cats will go directly to it. My cat actually gave birth on my bed, under the covers! But it's best to be prepared.)
Step 3: Be Ready
After all of that is done, not much is left for you to do. But remaining calm and being ready are the best things you can do to help.
Be aware that:
- Your cat will start yowling or meowing loudly when in labor, so if you hear this in the night, don't panic.
- Labor can last up to six hours. When Juniper was giving birth, there was almost 15 minutes in between every kitten.
- She can go into labor at anytime, any day. Juniper started at 5 in the morning, on a Thursday!
- After each kitten comes out, a bloody blob called the placenta will follow. Don't panic. It is totally normal. She will also start to eat it.
- Each kitten will be connected to the placenta by a cord called the umbilical cord. If she won't nip the cord, you will have to cut it with scissors and floss. Tie the floss next to the stomach, and then cut it.
Step 4: Be Prepared for the Worst
You should know that things can go wrong when giving birth; such as a kitten gets stuck, or is stillborn. They aren't always perfect. One of Juniper's kittens, Big Mac, actually came out sideways and got stuck! We were lucky, and he survived. But you should always be ready for the worst. Always have your vet's number ready if something happens. Also, try not to interfere to much. But if the cat can't take care of herself, call the local vet hospital for help.
Step 5: Finally! It's Over!
Not quite! Sometimes, after giving birth, the mother cat can be weak or sick. If that happens, you will have to help her with the kittens. Juniper was very sick when she gave birth, and gave pneumonia to the kittens. Since she wasn't feeling up to it, we had to feed and keep he babies warm. Sound easy? Wrong! You have to get special bottles from the vet, and will also have to buy kitten formula. Can't warm up the milk in the fridge for them! But it's harder if the kittens are sick. Also happened to Juniper's litter! Two of them caught pneumonia, and wouldn't eat. We had to tube feed them, were you stick a tube into their stomach and squirt the milk out of it. This is why you have to discuss with your family before getting a soon-to-be-mother cat!