Giving birth can be a beautiful and miraculous moment in a cat’s life. However, it’s essential to be aware of the normal post-birthing signs and potential complications that can arise. By understanding what to expect and when to seek veterinary care, you can ensure the health and well-being of your feline companion and her newborn kittens.
Normal Post-Birthing Signs in Cats
Cats are known for their grooming habits, which may make it difficult to spot post-birthing vaginal discharge. Normal discharge is typically greenish-black to brick red and lacks a significant odor. As the weeks progress, the discharge will gradually become more red-brown and decrease in amount. By 4-6 weeks after giving birth, the discharge should subside completely.
Sometimes, concern arises when owners don’t observe the newborn kittens urinating or having bowel movements. However, female cats, also known as queens, have a unique way of taking care of this. They clean and stimulate their kittens, promoting urination and defecation through licking. While it may seem unusual, this is entirely natural behavior.
Types of Post-Birthing Complications in Cats
While most cats experience a smooth post-birthing process, complications can arise. Here are some common complications and their symptoms:
1. Retention of Fetal Membranes
There are instances when a queen fails to pass the fetal membranes completely. As a result, the membranes start to break down and rot in her uterus. If your cat shows signs of restlessness, discomfort in the belly area, little to no interest in nursing, reduced appetite, or a brownish vaginal discharge, immediate veterinary care is necessary. Treatment may include antibiotics, pain medications, and hospitalization.
2. Metritis or Endometritis
Metritis and endometritis are types of uterine inflammation that typically occur within three days of giving birth. Cats suffering from these conditions exhibit more severe symptoms than those with retained fetal membranes. Signs include fever, a complete disregard for the kittens, refusal to eat, and decreased activity. The queen might vomit more frequently and drink an excessive amount of water. Additionally, the presence of a foul-smelling, deep red wine, or black-colored vaginal discharge is evident. Rush your cat to the veterinarian for immediate care, including a complete examination, diagnostic tests, IV fluids, antibiotics, and pain management.
Mastitis, characterized by inflammation of the mammary glands, can occur during early lactation or nursing. Typically, only one mammary gland is affected, causing it to become firm, hot, painful, and enlarged. If congestion of the milk ducts is the cause, gentle heat and massage can help milk flow through the teat orifice. However, if the inflammation is due to an infection, the gland will be swollen, painful, and produce an abnormally colored discharge. The queen may also exhibit a lack of appetite, fever, and lethargy. Immediate veterinary treatment is necessary to prevent further complications.
4. Eclampsia (Milk Fever)
Eclampsia, also known as milk fever or lactation tetany, can occur 3-5 weeks after giving birth to a litter of kittens. It arises from a sudden drop in calcium levels in the queen’s bloodstream, as milk production demands increase. Restlessness, panting, muscle tremors, and coordination issues are early signs of milk fever. Without prompt treatment, the condition can progress to rigid, stiff-legged muscular spasms, seizures, or even coma. In these cases, immediate veterinary care is crucial. Treatment involves calcium injections to restore calcium levels rapidly. Hospitalization and close monitoring will be necessary until the queen stabilizes. It’s important to separate the kittens from the queen and provide them with bottle feeding or begin the weaning process if they are old enough.
5. Cesarean Section (C-section)
After a C-section, it’s vital to closely monitor the queen’s progress in the first few days. Ensure she is comfortable, eating, drinking, nursing, urinating, and having regular bowel movements. Keep an eye on her incision for any signs of pain, heat, swelling, or discharge. If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately. Make sure to follow the prescribed medication regimen, including antibiotics and pain management.
First-time mothers or nervous queens may exhibit behaviors such as cannibalism, where they may harm or eat their own kittens. It is crucial to observe them closely and avoid leaving them alone with the kittens until you are confident they will not be at risk. Products like Feliway diffusers or spray can be used to help calm nervous or anxious queens.
Remember, your veterinarian is always there to provide guidance and support throughout your cat’s pregnancy and post-birthing journey. If you need to consult with a vet, you can schedule a video consultation with one of our experts at Katten TrimSalon. Alternatively, you can download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Stores.
Understanding Cat Pregnancy and Birth