Common Cat Illnesses After Giving Birth

The majority of felines become pregnant and give birth without complications. However, some cat illnesses and complications after giving birth are possible. In some instances, these conditions may be prevented or minimized by carefully monitoring of the cat during delivery and the postpartum period.


Dysgalactia is a term used to describe an insufficient amount of milk. This may be caused by a diet lacking in necessary nutrients. Large litters can also contribute to the condition.

Signs the mother cat may not have sufficient milk:

  • Kittens are restless
  • Kittens constantly cry and whine

Milk supply should increase with frequent nursing. The mammary glands are stimulated by the suckling action of the kittens.


Galactostasis occurs when one or more mammary glands are full and swollen.

Symptoms may include:

  • Mammary glands tender to the touch
  • General discomfort

Symptoms are usually alleviated by warm compresses.


Mastitis is a term used to describe the presence of a bacterial infection in one or all mammary glands. This condition is often seen in combination with galactostasis.

Mastitis is characterized by:

  • Swollen, tender glands that may feel hot to the touch
  • Brown or reddish milk, caused by the presence of red or white blood cells
  • general discomfort
  • refusal to nurse kittens
  • listlessness
  • lack of appetite

If left untreated, the kittens are susceptible to malnutrition, possible infection and death. In the mother cat, the infection has the potential to escalate into a more serious condition. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment.


This is sometimes called “milk fever,” or “puerperal tetany.” The mother cat suffers a serious, rapid loss of calcium (hypocalcemia).

Symptoms of elcampsia include:

As the condition progresses, additional symptoms include:

  • pale gums
  • profuse salivation
  • seizures
  • muscle contractions and spasms
  • lack of coordination

This is an emergency situation. If not treated, death will occur within hours. Your veterinarian will be able to replace the lost calcium and treat the condition. In some cats, there is a genetic predisposition to this condition. It may occur with each pregnancy and delivery.


If a fetus or placenta is not expelled shortly after delivery, the mother cat may develop a uterine bacterial infection.

It is characterized by:

  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • reluctance to nurse
  • listlessness

There may or may not be vaginal discharge.

This condition must not be left untreated. Your veterinarian will discuss a plan of treatment that includes expulsion of the fetus or placenta and a regimen of antibiotics.

Postpartum Hemorrhage

This condition is characterized by bright, bloody red vaginal discharge, which may be profuse.

It is often accompanied by:

  • high fever
  • loss of appetite
  • reluctance to care for nursing kittens

This condition requires immediate medical attention, as it may result in death to the mother.


Agalactia is a failure to produce milk. There are two types of agalactia:

  • Primary agalactia is a failure to produce milk, as a result of a defective pituitary gland. This is extremely rare.
  • Secondary agalactia is a failure to express milk. This may be a result of premature delivery, stress or disease.

Secondary agalactia may be resolved by encouraging the kittens to suckle, while providing them with additional formula. In some cases, medication may be needed.

If you notice anything unusual within the first three weeks following delivery, you should seek the advice of your veterinarian. The conditions stated above are some of the most common, but rare conditions do exist.