How To Prepare For Your Pregnant Cat's Delivery

If you have a pregnant cat, naturally you want the birthing process to go smoothly. Fortunately, there are a few easy things you can do to prepare for her upcoming labor. Here are some simple ways to get her ready, as well as signs that she's in labor so that Mama and the babies have the best chance at being healthy. 

Due Date

It's important to know exactly when the kittens are expected to arrive. That way, you can start preparing in advance. Most cats are pregnant for an average of 63-66 days. But it's important to check with your veterinarian so they can confirm the pregnancy and let you know about how far along Mama is.

You shouldn't wait until she's in labor to get completely prepared. So in the coming weeks before she is due, you should set up a nesting area.

Nesting Area

Despite the fact that cats have become rather domesticated, they still behave on instinct. So even though you know (and she may know) that home is "safe," she will still operate on that powerful drive to find a safe place, away from predators, to have her kittens. Therefore, make sure to provide her with a soft bed in a secluded area of your home, but also in a spot where you will still be able to check on her. Ideal locations include the corner of a closet, underneath a bed, or even a bottom dresser drawer. Be sure to remove any existing clothes you don't want to get soiled, and replace them with fluffy blankets and sheets. You can also cut the flaps off an existing box and see if she is interested in using that.

If she has a bed, move it to a place you think she'll like so she can get used to its new location. If she doesn't like it, she will probably refuse to sleep in it or become restless. At that point, you'll need to allow her to choose her birthing area, which she generally does in the days before labor.

Signs of Labor

When your cat goes into labor, there are signs that are pretty hard to ignore. She will likely become restless, particularly if she has not quite narrowed down that perfect nesting spot. If she seems to have trouble settling down, you may consider isolating her in a room with her bed, lots of blankets, and ample choices. For example, leave a closet door open or line the bottom drawer with soft bedding. Eventually, she will settle down in her chosen spot. Also, make sure she has easy access to plenty of food and water, as well as a litter box.

Stages of Labor

Stage One. You may notice an attempt to rearrange the bedding or she may knead it for a while. Other signs of stage one labor include increased respiration and pulse, shivering, changing positions, constant grooming of the vulva, and fluid leaking from her nipples.

Stage Two. At this point, your cat will begin pushing, so you may see her straining. She may also cry or vocalize her discomfort in some way. There's no need to worry at this point. Discomfort and vocalization are both to be expected.

Once the first kitten is born, Mom should lick away the amniotic sac so the kitten can take its first breath. While rare, some new moms may not do this, so you will need to take care of it for her. Using a warm, clean washcloth, gently wipe away the sac and clean the face. Then place the kitten back with Mom immediately, preferably right under her nose so she can finish cleaning the newborn.

Stage Three. This is basically the resting stage between kittens. She may choose to lie still or get up and walk around for a few minutes. This is perfectly normal.

Be sure to talk with your vet about how long your cat can be expected to remain in labor, how many kittens she will have, and whether or not the veterinarian has an emergency service, just in case something comes up. Occasionally, cats can have trouble delivering, and a C-section may become necessary. It may be a good idea to be aware of any animal hospitals nearby as well, such as Metzger Animal Hospital.