What are Birth Difficulties?
If a “queen” or mother cat is reasonably healthy, it is highly unlikely that she will suffer from birthing difficulties. However, birth difficulties that include mechanical blockage and uterine inertia occur in some cats. Sometimes mechanical blockage happens when the kittens’ diameter is too wide for the queen’s birth canal diameter. Uterine inertia could come about when the uterus is too weak to contract.
Symptoms of Birth Difficulties in Cats
Mechanical blockage and uterine inertia are most likely to take place with older cats, with queens who are obese and, with queens who birth small litters of relatively oversized kittens. These conditions are apt to occur in cat breeds with big heads and flat faces like Persians. It also frequently involves the birth of the first kitten or the last kitten.
If any of the following signs occur, call the veterinarian. It could help to save the life of the kittens as well as the mother
- No birth of a kitten after one hour of deep straining
- A kitten is visible in the birth canal after 10 minutes of strong labor
- A constant flow of fresh bleeding occurs 10 minutes during or after kittening
- Abrupt lethargy and fatigue
- Rectal temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) or below 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius) could mean the queen has an infection
- If labor ceases and the queen is agitated, anxious or weak
- Kittens should come down the birth canal 15 minutes to two hours apart. When the amniotic sac surrounding the kitten ruptures, birth of a kitten should take place within 30 minutes. There is cause for alarm if more than three hours pass between kittens. However, if the queen is relaxed and tending to her kittens without showing distress, she and the kittens to come should be fine.
Causes of Birth Difficulties in Cats
Mechanical Blockage: The "diving position" – exiting the birth canal with nose and feet first, and the back next to the vagina’s crown – is regularly how kittens are born. An oversized kitten or a kitten is situated wrong in the birth canal are the two main reasons for mechanical blockage.
- The kitten exits backwards from the birth canal with its hind feet or tail and hips showing first.
- The backwards position of presenting the tail or rump is called the breech position and if it occurs with the first kitten, it can really present a problem.
- Deviated head, where the head of the kitten is curved forward or sideways.
Uterine Inertia: When the uterine muscles become too weak, labor becomes futile. The uterus can’t generate contractions that are strong and effective. Reasons for uterine fatigue include:
- Having an extremely large litter
- A single very large kitten in a tiny uterus
- Distortion of the uterus
- Surplus of amniotic fluid as the result of a condition called hydrops amnion
Diagnosis of Birth Difficulties in Cats
Abnormal or difficult births in cats are typically caused by several factors, including uterine inertia, the birth canal is too small, the fetus crosses the birth channel in an atypical orientation, and/or the fetus is too large.
Veterinarians pay attention to the following situations and history:
- Previous history of dystocia or reproductive tract blockage
- Birth doesn’t occur within at least 24 hours once the rectal temperature drops to 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.7 degrees Celcius
- No kitten is born after the queen suffers severe abdominal contractions that last for more than two hours
- Pause in labor lasts more than four to six hours
- Obvious pain of the queen – howling, licking or gnawing at the vulva
- Odd discharge from the vulva before the kittens are born (possibility the placenta has separated)
- Pelvic trauma
- Prior births
The vet could also carry out a sterile digital exam to determine the degree of obstruction in the birth canal as well as the position and presentation of the fetuses. To determine the presence, mass, location and health of the fetuses, the veterinarian could also use radiography or ultrasound scans.
Should labor be prolonged, and the veterinarians cannot see or feel the kitten in the birth canal, an x-ray of the queen will help to determine the relative sizes and positions of the kittens.
A fractured pelvis is detrimental for queens. If a queen with a fractured pelvis becomes pregnant and it wasn’t known she had a fractured pelvis, she will have to undergo a surgery to give birth.
Veterinarians warn that a queen with a pelvic fracture should not get pregnant. X-ray scans, taken prior to pregnancy, are the way to determine if the queen suffers from this malady.
Treatment of Birth Difficulties in Cats
Medication: The source of some forms of uterine inertia is caused by a lack of oxytocin or calcium or both. To stimulate stronger contractions, the veterinarian may inject oxytocin (which is made by the pituitary gland) and calcium gluconate. There is danger associated with such injections, in that the uterus could rupture.
Cesarean Section: If birthing difficulties can’t be resolved by the use of drugs or obstetric treatment, the veterinarian will determine whether a cesarean section is necessary. The veterinarian will decide if this common procedure, which is used when all sorts of birthing problems are present, is the best choice for the mother. The vet will take the following into consideration:
- Length of labor
- Condition of the queen
- X-ray and testing results
- Kittens’ size relative to the queen’s uterus
- A dry vaginal canal
- Lack of response to oxytocin
In most cases, a cesarean section presents no problems, especially if the queen is young and healthy. The veterinarian performs the operation under general anesthesia. There may be major problems if the labor is excessive and drawn out and toxicity occurs, i.e. the kittens are stillborn and starting to decay or if the uterus ruptures.
Recovery of Birth Difficulties in Cats
The veterinarian will consider medical management when obstruction of the birth canal and fetuses is constant, the appearance and location of the fetal position are correct, and there is no blockage in the birth canal. To encourage uterine contractions, the veterinarian could prescribe oxytocin. A cesarean section could be done if the oxytocin gets no reaction.
Surgery could be necessary for obstructive dystocia and birth difficulties along with distress or general poor health, extended active labor, primary uterine inertia and if health management is unproductive.
Within three hours of the surgery, the queen is expected to be stable, alert and capable of nursing her kittens. Reasons for having the cesarean section vary and just because the queen had the procedure when she had one litter does not necessarily mean that she will have to have another cesarean section when she has another litter.
Birth Difficulties Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My cat is in labour since 2 days but yet no child has born. She is getting weaker and not eating since 2 days. She is releasing huge amount of water along with few amount of blood. Some muscle like thing is hanging from her back. What should I do to help her at hone.
Please take Meshi to see her Veterinarian as the kittens may have died and she may have a severe infection; also if there are membranes or other tissue hanging from the vagina, it would be best to get her seen as complications may lead to death. She will need at a minimum antibiotics. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
My cat had her first kitten at 2:30 AM yesterday morning, but it was dead. Either stillborn, or she didn't tear the sac from its face in time, I'm not sure. But it looked regular sized. Now today at 9:00 AM, she had her second kitten. But it was very premature and not nearly as formed as the first. She immediately proceeded to eating that one.... I'm extremely concerned, but she seems to be doing just fine. Eating, drinking, and using the litter box as normal. Cuddling and putting, even. What should I do?
Add a comment to Meshi's experience
Was this experience helpful?
Hi. My precious cat dead after a cesarean surgery. i am so devastated because i already had my cat for nearly 7 years.
Her death made me angry as well since i think the vet didnt do the proper treatment to her.
It started one week ago. I noticed some vaginal discharge. So i start to prepare her a nesting place and keep her away from another cat. But after one day she still didnt give birth. So i decided to bring her to the nearest animal clinic.
At there, the vet told me she is ready anytime since the fetus already went down and her nipple start to produce milk. She just told me to bring her home and monitor. After 2 days still no kitten and the bleeding become more severe. I called the vet again and told her i want to keep my cat at the clinic so if anything serious happen the vet will take care of it.
I left my cat at the clinic for 2 night. After the 3rd day she call me and told me to bring my cat to another clinic to do ultrasound since her clinic didnt have that machine. I just mad because why now? After so many days passed? But she keep saying the kitten still alive i am sure of it. When i left my cat there all she did is just MONITOR. Not a single iv fluid given since my cat had severe bleeding. She should given iv fluid right?
So i went to another clinic. Far from my place. At there ultrasound was done and turned out the kitten already dead for many days! The vet suggest a emergency ceserean surgery. But the price the vet want was too expansive. I didnt have enough money.. i couldnt afford it. So i call the previous clinic and she said she can do that. And she will give me cheaper price.
Without thinking i bring my cat back to the previous clinic. Im just to nervous and i cannot think about anything. The vet said the risk is quite high since my cat is already old. Is she? 7 years old is consider old for a cat?
I cannot think of anything and just let the vet proceed with the surgery. To my suprised she did the surgery at night. And left my cat without being monitor. How was that even a good thing to do? You said this surgery is risky but you just left her alone after the surgery and go home.
That morning i got simple text massage from the vet my cat just passed away when she arrive at the clinic in the morning. I was so devastated. I was mad. When i reached the clinic the vet already wrapped my cat in plastic and put her inside the freezer. I asked her why this happend. But she keep repeating my cat is old over and over again. My cat was perfectly healthy before. I think this happend because the vet delayed the treatment for almost 1 week. There were 3 kitten and the kitten already fused to each other showing that mybe they already dead for days. I told them the last labor my cat had was february this year. A perfect normal labor and 5 kittens were born. After she heard about this she was quite shock.
One more thing the vet do the surgery using lateral approach. Means the incision done at the side of body. Is it possible to do the ceserean surgery using that method?
And i asked her why she didnt start with oxytocin injection for contraction on the day she said my cat is ready anytime. But she keep saying because my cat is old so thats not a good decision. Why the vet rather do the invasive treatment rather than start with the less invasive way first? And why they keep my cat in pain for 1 week? Is it a good way to left my cat alone after the surgery when they said the surgery is risky?
I am really mad. My healthy cat die just like that. Not a single sorry from them. And im blaming myself because i trust them.
Sorry for my english. Im not a native speaker. But i hope to hear some answer. Atleast i know the truth behind the the death of my beloved cat.
It is difficult to comment on the actions of another Veterinarian as I do not know the information or the tests they carried out to reach a diagnosis or to decide to wait for a number of days. Birthing in cats is usually straight forward and occurs without human intervention; occasionally there will be a cat requiring help with birthing and these are treated on a case by case basis. The use of oxytocin too early can cause more complications and may cause irreparable complications that would threaten the life of mother and kittens; again I didn’t see your cat so I cannot comment on whether this was the right choice or not. The delay wasn’t favourable, but without a definite mating date your Veterinarian would have been unable to know if she was due or not; checking for viable kittens should have been done at some point in the process. For the caesarean section, I personally would have carried it out midline (but would spay a cat on the flank) but ultimately choice of surgical site is at the discretion of the surgeon. The age of your cat: at seven year of age we start to look at dogs and cats differently as certain conditions affecting the liver and kidneys as well as other conditions may start to present which is why some Veterinarians will want to perform more vigorous blood tests on animals over seven year old, again at their discretion. Unfortunately I cannot comment in full as I don’t know how your cat was presented to your Veterinarian; we usually determine a cat to be in birthing difficulty if she has been in labour with no birthing, one kitten delivered and other felt inside, gestation is over 68 days, discharge from the vagina or fever. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
The sac for the first kitten wasn't there just a yellow liquid and the placenta wasn't coming out and it looks like the umbilical cord is stuck I sent her to the vet with my sister and I was wondering how long her stay at the vet would be and what the procedure is to help her
Hi my cat had previously had a c section and i was wondering if she would need to get another c section if she were to be pregnant again.
Add a comment to Jeremy's experience
Was this experience helpful?