What to Expect during Kitten Birth

Owners of pregnant cats must know what to expect during kitten birth, to ensure that the cat and her offspring remain safe and healthy during the procedure.

Setting the Environment

Mother cats prefer a quiet, warm and dark environment for their kitten birth, so owners should set aside an area at least two to three weeks before the cat is due. Prepare a kittening box made from a sturdy, cardboard box, a plastic basket or a pet carrier. At least two thirds of the box should be covered and there should be an easy access hole. The bottom of the kittening box should be lined with several layers of newspapers, which the mother cat will tear to make a nest. This nesting should be changed daily after birth.

Late Symptoms of Pregnancy

Symptoms that the cat is preparing to go into labor include:

  • Eating about twice as much in the last two weeks before pregnancy.
  • Searching the home for a comfortable nesting area; owners should provide this area and encourage the mother cat to select that spot.
  • Increased affection toward humans and other animals. 

Symptoms of Going into Labor

As the cat becomes closer to going into labor (64 days), she will begin to exhibit a few distinctive signs: 

  • Calling out for attention with a distinctive meow for attention.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Excessively licking her genitalia.
  • Walking in and out of her kittening box.

Human Help

Cats generally need little help during kitten birth. However, they do prefer company during this time. Owners can help by providing their cats with comfortable kittening boxes, giving them affection and staying near them during the birth.
Owners should be careful when rubbing the cat's stomach during pregnancy, though, in order to not hurt the kittens. Pregnant cats should be petted gently when they want attention.

While watching the labor, owners can help by gathering the following:

  • Pet heating pad
  • Warm water
  • Paper towels
  • Sterilized gloves
  • Unflavored dental floss
  • Sterilized scissors
  • Baby ear syringe

During Birth

During the kitten birth, owners should watch the mother cat and make sure the mother and kittens are healthy. Vet intervention should not be unnecessary unless complications arise. The mother cat should be able to handle the entire birthing process by herself, but owners should stand by and help out as they see fit.

  1. Wear sterilized gloves.
  2. The mother cat will begin licking each kitten as it emerges. She should be able to cut her own umbilical cord during this time. If it appears that she isn't cutting the cord, tie it tightly halfway up with dental floss. Then use scissors to cut the cord to release the kitten from its mother.
  3. Rub the kitten down with a washcloth dipped in warm water. Stimulate the airway by holding it upright (chin face down) and massaging the middle of its back gently.
  4. Dry the kitten with a paper towel.
  5. Use the baby ear syringe to clean any mucus from the mouth and nose that the mother cat may have missed.
  6. Place the kitten on a pet heating pad near the mother cat.
Mother cats are fairly self-sufficient during kitten birth, but owners can make the process simpler for their pets by knowing what to expect, and preparing for the new arrival.