Childbirth problems in cats are less common than they are in dogs, but when they occur they more often lead to a caesarean section.
Cesarean section is an operation when the abdomen and uterus are opened, and the pups are removed. Usually the placentas are also removed, but if they are firmly attached, they can be left. They then usually loosen by themselves and are ejected later.
When should a veterinarian be consulted?
Some signs that the birth is not proceeding normally, and that the cat needs to see a veterinarian for obstetric help, are the following:
- The cat passed more than 69 days after mating without the birth starting
- The cat has occasional cramps for more than 2 hours without any pups coming
- The cat has throbbing pains that persist for more than 5 minutes without any pups coming
- If a kitten is stuck in the birth canal
- If the mother has foul-smelling discharge
- If the mother does not seem to be feeling well.
However, it is difficult to predict each individual situation as the process is not as it should be, so rather contact a veterinarian once too much than too little if you are the least bit unsure.
At the vet, the cat is examined and x-rayed before a decision is made about a caesarean section.
Sometimes an ultrasound examination is also performed.
The cat is usually anesthetized with anesthetic that is mild for the kittens. As they are picked out, they are dried and massaged, and breathing is controlled. The operation also examines the uterus, and if it is damaged, it may need to be removed in connection with the caesarean section. During pregnancy, the risk of blood clots is greater, and it increases further if the operation is extensive. Therefore, it is best to avoid removing the uterus if it is not damaged, but in some cases it is still done if it is judged that the risk is worth taking.
The cat’s skin is usually sewn with thread that is broken down by the body and which is hidden in the skin. She can not wear a collar for the sake of the cubs, but cat mothers are usually so busy taking care of their cubs that they do not have time to lick their surgical wound.
After the operation, the mother cat is affected by the anesthesia and it may take a while before she takes care of her cubs. In the meantime, it is important to keep them warm and possibly also support them with milk replacers. For the first twelve hours after birth, the pups are susceptible to the antibodies in the mother’s colostrum, and it is therefore important that they are allowed to suckle within that time.
The antibodies give the young an important protection against diseases during their first life. It is also important to check that the weight of the pups is steadily increasing. Weight gain should be 10-14 g per day and kittens should preferably not lose weight after childbirth.
Unfortunately, the preparations that are commonly used for pain relief are not good for kittens, so if possible, let the mother cope with the pain relief she receives in connection with the operation. If she is in so much pain that she cannot take care of the cubs, they may need to be bottle-fed so that the mother can receive pain-relieving medication.
If the mother does not want to take care of the cubs, you can use sedative pheromones, Feliway, in electrical outlets and arm yourself with patience.
The newly operated cat mother is often sent home fairly soon after the operation so she can have peace and quiet with her little ones at home. It is important to check at home that no complications occur: the wound should not bleed, the cat should perk up and start taking care of its children.
Other complications that can occur after a caesarean section are infection in the wound, bleeding and blood clots. Take the temperature daily on the newly operated cat. Check the wound at least a couple of times a day: it should not be swollen, tender, or red, and there should be no purulent or bloody fluid coming from it (single drops of blood are ok). The cat’s discharge should not smell bad. The udder should be tender and not red.
If the mother is busy with her babies, the kids are gaining weight, and mostly eating or sleeping, then probably everything is as it should be.
It is always worth thinking about what went wrong with the birth that made you have to have a caesarean section. If you suspect that the female will have to give birth by incision in the future, you should not mate her again. A female that has been delivered with an incision twice should not be mated again, regardless of why it was a caesarean section.