Birth Difficulties in Cats

Birth Difficulties in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
Birth Difficulties in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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.

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Birth Difficulties Average Cost

From 536 quotes ranging from $400 - $1,000

Average Cost

$650

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.
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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
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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.

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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.

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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. 

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Birth Difficulties Average Cost

From 536 quotes ranging from $400 - $1,000

Average Cost

$650

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Birth Difficulties Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Black and white cat

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1 and a half

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

My Cat Gave Birth Yesterday And She'S Acting Funny Today Like Her Back Legs Are Bugging Her. She Is Also Trying To Hide Away.

My cat gave birth yesterday and she's acting funny today like her back legs are bugging her. She is also trying to hide away.

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them and see what might be going on, and get treatment if needed.

Oct. 12, 2020

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Black cat

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One Year

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42 found helpful

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42 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Labor

My cat started labor and having kittens around 3:30 pm and has had 4 kittens so far. But she has stopped pushing anymore kittens out and is just relaxing with her kittens but I can still feel kittens moving in her belly. When should I be worried about her not having anymore it has been two hours since the last kitten.

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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42 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. Cats will have breaks in between delivering kittens. If she is not actively pushing and straining then I would let her rest in a quiet space and check on her regularly. If she is actively pushing and not delivering a kitten within 2 hours then that is when you need to seek immediate medical care for her. I hope all goes smoothly for her and you. Take care.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Birth Difficulties Average Cost

From 536 quotes ranging from $400 - $1,000

Average Cost

$650

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