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What is Early Contractions and Labor?

While a kitten born on or after the 61st day of gestation has good survival odds, contractions and labor before then can endanger both the kitten and its mother.

Pregnancy in cats usually goes smoothly, but premature contractions and labor do happen from time to time. In an ideal situation, a cat would give birth after 63 days of pregnancy. However, factors ranging from stress to bacterial infections can cause a pregnant cat to go into labor too early.

Early Contractions and Labor Average Cost

From 460 quotes ranging from $400 - $1,000

Average Cost

$650

Symptoms of Early Contractions and Labor in Cats

Before a cat fully goes into labor, there are a few tell-tale signs. If a cat is showing these signs before the 61st day of pregnancy, it is likely that the cat is going into premature labor:

  • Bloody vaginal discharge
  • Lack of appetite
  • Loud and frequent vocalizing
  • Hiding
  • Unexplained affection
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Causes of Early Contractions and Labor in Cats

The causes of early labor in cats are particularly varied, but can be put into two different categories: stress-related and medical.

Medical

  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Genetic disorders
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Malnutrition
  • Death of a fetus
  • Hormonal imbalances, specifically a sudden drop in progesterone
  • Lyme disease

Stress-Related

  • Loud noises
  • Emotional disturbances like screaming or fighting owners
  • Excessively cold temperatures
  • A recent move
  • Receiving vaccinations while pregnant
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Diagnosis of Early Contractions and Labor in Cats

If a cat starts displaying symptoms of early contractions, it is vital that it is brought to a veterinarian as soon as possible. The veterinarian will require a complete medical history of the cat, as well as some information regarding the pregnancy. This includes things like the cat's general health before and during the pregnancy, information about the symptoms being displayed and any stressful incidents that could have contributed to premature labor.

Once the veterinarian has this information, they will begin a physical examination of the cat, while being careful not to cause further stress. Depending upon the results of the physical examination, the veterinarian may need to run any of the following tests: a blood chemical profile, an electrolyte panel or urinalysis.

The blood profile will reveal any issues with progesterone levels, while the urinalysis will show any disorders or diseases that may be causing the early labor. After these tests have been performed, the veterinarian will perform an ultrasound to see if fetal death or abnormal positioning of the fetus could be causing the early labor.

If the kittens are stillborn or die shortly after birth, they may need to be necropsied by the veterinarian to identify the cause of death. This will help determine if the issue could affect the cat later in life as well as ensure the viability of any future pregnancies.

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Treatment of Early Contractions and Labor in Cats

At this stage, the cat will most likely require medical treatment either for the underlying disease causing the problem or the stillborn kittens.

Stillborn Kittens: Stillborn kittens will typically need to be surgically removed. The procedure is quite low-risk for the cat, but if other undamaged fetuses are still in the womb, it may prove dangerous for them. 

Other Treatments: Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to stop early labor once it has started. The veterinarian will likely give the cat and any surviving kittens medical attention for any complications, but may not be able to halt the process of the early labor.

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Recovery of Early Contractions and Labor in Cats

After the delivery, it is important to keep the cat isolated from other animals for a period of three weeks, with exceptions being made for any surviving kittens, of course. Even animals that live in the home and that the cat knows should be kept at a distance, as the cat will need time to recover from going through labor. As much as possible, the cat should be kept in a warm and quiet room by itself.

After a cat has gone through early labor, it is important to bring it in for a checkup after the three week period. At this point, the cat should be returning to normal, and it can be a sign of other diseases if the cat is still weak or sick after the first three weeks. 

While a cat is nursing its kittens, it is important not to give it any medication without approval from a veterinarian. Many medications can affect the cat's milk and be harmful to kittens.

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Early Contractions and Labor Average Cost

From 460 quotes ranging from $400 - $1,000

Average Cost

$650

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Early Contractions and Labor Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Cat

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About 15-16 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Spotting Blood

My cat, Baby, is a little over a year old and having her first litter of kittens. Apparently she has had a little bit of a bloody discharge today. Aug. 11th mark's day 63 for her pregnancy, so really close. Is her spotting a sign of trouble or is this normal for cats...? I'm a little worried as I've never witnessed an animal of any kind give birth...

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. She should be having kittens very soon, and the spotting may be normal. It would probably be a good idea to do a little research to prepare your self for what to expect. If this is something that you are not comfortable with, it may be a good idea to have her spayed after she has these kittens. This is one website that I found with fairly accurate information: https://icatcare.org/advice/cat-birth/, there are many others. I hope that all goes well for her!

Aug. 8, 2020

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Persian mix

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8 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Pregnant

My cat is pregnant and it's been exactly 48 days after she mated. When can we expect her birthing/delivery? And what are the symptoms of labor?

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Cats are pregnant for approximately 60 days. There are many videos and websites that go into great detail on what to expect during labor that can cover it much better than I can in an email, this is one: https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-health-5-stages-cat-pregnancy You may want to have a veterinary visit before she gives birth so that they can take an xray and tell you how many kittens there are, as that is always helpful when you are waiting to see if there is another kitten coming. I hope that all goes well!

Aug. 2, 2020

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Jupiter

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Domestic shorthair

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2 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

A Little More Vocal Than Normal

My cat seemed to be in labor last night. Had a water filled sack hanging out of her. But she was not trying to push at all. After about 4 hours of me keeping an eye on her, the bag was gone. I don't know if it popped or what. I did move her to our bathroom. I left her alone all night and it seems Labor has stopped and still no attempt at pushing. She doesn't seem to be in distress at all. Meowing a little more than normal but she is using the litter box and eating. Shall I just continue to wait? She has had one litter before, zero problems. She got outside on accident. She will be getting spayed as soon as the babies are 8 weeks.

Sept. 17, 2018

Jupiter's Owner

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Smokey

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Grey

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating
Throwing Up
Sleeping A Lot
Moving Belly

My cat is pregnant not sure how far along. But far enough along that we can see multiple kittens moving on both sides. She doesnt seem to to be digesting her food it coming back up in chunks of almost the same way it goes down.

Aug. 31, 2018

Smokey's Owner

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Pumpkin

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Stray cat not sure

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1 Year

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Labor

I think my cats in labor or at least the beginning of it. For 5 days now she’s been licking her lady parts, had rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, and she’s had contractions but nothing consistent. I see babies are still moving around in there but it seems as though sometimes it stops then it starts up hours or a day later. Is this normal in the beginning!

Aug. 28, 2018

Pumpkin's Owner

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Duchess

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DOMESTIC

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8 Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Contractions

My cats not showing any of these symptoms,but she is having contractions. Her moods are speratic and she's going from a drawer to her bow to the kitchen and repeating. We can pet her if she wants us too but not touch her belly. The thing is we just figured out she was pregnant about three weeks ago and she's big but not very big. What does this sound like?

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Mommas

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Tuxedo

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Bloody Discharge Very Affectionate

My cat Mommas lost her mucus plug Tuesday around 10am and lost a little bit more yesterday and she still not had her kittens yet. Me and my husband keep checking on her and checking her stomach and now we don't feel the kittens heart beats now. And we can't afford the vet bill to get a ultrasound done.

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Artemis

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Calico

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Brownish Blood

My cat is pregnant with her first litter. She is 65 days along and had brownish red discharge last night and today. No imminent contractions yet. Does this mean she won't be able to deliver them. I have no way to pay a vet to do a csection

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Princess

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Cat

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3 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Discharge
Pregnant

Hi My cat Euyreka (aka miss princess) lol don't ask ,...is a rescue I've had for just under a year now is about 2 to 4 years old and is fully pregnant overdue ( like end of 'May it's now August 10th...?) 4 days ago she began showing what I believed was her first signs of the first stage of labour, pacing meowing excessively demanding affection, almost acting as if going into heat, so now 4 days into it and she's still eating and drinking being less vocal but has a brownish discharge coming from her vagina and also really bad unusually stinky diarrhea and has not produced any kittens and is not showing any signs of distress or progressing, I am on a fixed income so I'd love to avoid a vet trip if possible but please any idea on what this is or if I could be wrong about her being pregnant , though she stopped going into heat after last cycle when I believe she became pregnant I do not and have not felt any Foetal movement but she has gained significant weight and has a distended belly. Her vagina looks slightly swollen not much but slightly and open more than normal with a dark brownish discharge dried around it and had a small amount of blood in her stool but I don't see any now.

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Layla

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Cat

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating
Hiding

My cat Layla is a year old and pregnant with her first litter of kittens. Unfortunately she got outside and I Am not positive as to how far along she is. Her belly is really big. She was eating non stop until yesterday hasn't eaten anything today. She's been in my bed sleeping. I have not noticed any nesting yet. I took her temperature yesterday it was 100.4 F today it was 101.2 F. How will I know when she is in Labor?

Early Contractions and Labor Average Cost

From 460 quotes ranging from $400 - $1,000

Average Cost

$650

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