Queening and postnatal care for cats

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Queening and postnatal care for cats

Producing kittens (queening) is something most cats experience without difficulty. Your role is simply to keep a close watch while staying as unobtrusive as possible. Always contact a vet if  problems arise.
Queening and postnatal care for cats

Giving birth:

When the time for giving birth to her kittens is near, a queen usually becomes restless and may ignore all offers of food. Once her contractions begin, she will probably head for the security of her kittening box. However, queens sometimes change their minds at the last minute as to where they want to give birth, so make sure your cat cannot take herself off to a hidden corner.  During the first stage of labor, which can last up to 6 hours, regular contractions gradually open the cervix (neck of the uterus). The queen will pant and perhaps purr, but she should not seem unduly distressed. A clear vaginal discharge often appears.
 As the queen enters the second stage of labor, she begins to strain, or “bear down,” with each contraction to push a kitten through the birth canal. Within about 30 minutes, a grayish bubble—which is the membrane that encases the kitten in the uterus—appears at the vaginal
opening. A few more contractions propel the kitten out into the world. The final stage of labor expels the placenta (afterbirth); a separate placenta will be expelled after each kitten.
 The rest of the kittens will be born at varying intervals. They may arrive within minutes of each other, although at some births there can be a time lag of an hour or two between deliveries.
 With a normal labor and birth, you only need to monitor the situation, without interfering or disturbing the queen by hovering over her too closely. It is necessary to take action if the second stage of labor continues for more than about 2 hours without producing any kittens; there is an abnormally long interval between each delivery; contractions cease but you suspect that not all the kittens are born; or a kitten becomes stuck in the birth canal. Never try to resolve birthing problems yourself. If the queen appears to be in difficulties, call the vet immediately to ask for advice.

After the birth:

In most cases, the queen, even if it is her first litter, knows what to do and wastes no time in dealing with each kitten in turn. She will lick the kitten all over, to remove the birth fluids and surrounding membrane and to stimulate breathing. She will also bite through the umbilical cord that attaches the kitten to the placenta. It is quite natural for the mother to eat the placenta, so do not attempt to stop her. Newly washed, the kitten will at once start blindly nosing at its mother in search of a teat to latch onto for its first feeding.
 If all has gone well, it should not be long before the entire litter and their mother are contentedly bonding with each other. Disturbing them as little as possible, remove soiled bedding from the kittening box and replace it with clean materials. After providing the queen with food, water, and a litter pan within easy reach so she does not have to move far from her kittens, leave the new family to settle down in peace.
 Postnatal complications are unusual in cats, but in the days following delivery you should keep a careful watch on both mother and kittens. In a newly delivered queen, some light vaginal bleeding and discharge is normal and will continue for several days. If you notice any of the following signs in the queen, you must contact your vet immediately:

* Prolonged or heavy vaginal bleeding, or a foul-smelling, colored discharge.
* Heat and swelling around the teats, which may be accompanied by a discharge.
* Restlessness and loss of appetite.
* Lethargy and lack of interest in her kittens.

 Failure to thrive in kittens can also be an indication that the health of the queen needs prompt investigation. Kittens that have been orphaned or rejected by their mother may survive with careful handrearing, but it takes time, dedication, and the help of your vet to achieve success.