6 Ways To Know If A Cat Is Done Giving Birth?

Are you awaiting the arrival of new kittens? Knowing when your cat is done giving birth is crucial for their well-being.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ultrasound Check: Get an ultrasound done to estimate the litter size. This helps in ensuring all kittens are accounted for.
  • Observe Contractions: Check contractions and feel the cat’s abdomen to check if kittens are present.
  • Monitor Body Language: Restlessness, licking, and often changing positions suggest the cat is still in labor.
  • Attention To Newborns: Attention to kittens and placenta consumption often signal birth completion.
  • Breathing Patterns: A return to normal breathing is a sign that labor is over.

We’ll help you spot the signs that your cat has finished giving birth, making it easier for you to manage the situation.

6 Signs That Your Cat Is Done Giving Birth

Many cat owners feel anxious if they’ve never cared for a pregnant cat or if it’s their cat’s first time giving birth.

But with careful planning and observation, these are some important signs to look out for.

1. Find Out The Litter Size

pregnant cat having ultrasound

Unlike humans who are most likely to give birth to just one baby during labor, cats are capable of having a large litter size. 

For you to have a good idea of how long the labor process should be, find out how many kittens your queen is expecting.

Get an ultrasound done by the vet to estimate how many kittens are in your cat’s womb.

It might not be the exact number but it will be the most accurate way of gauging the potential litter size.

This is important for certain cat breeds with large litter sizes like the Siamese or Burmese.

These cats can have up to 12 cats per litter!

With a rough figure in mind, you will be able to make sure that all kittens are accounted for.

2. Feel For Contractions

“You should be able to notice your cat’s contractions or feel them by placing your hand on her tummy.”

When your cat goes into labor, she will be experiencing strong rhythmic contractions.

Contractions are necessary to help push the kittens out of her womb and birth canal.

One good way to know that your cat is still in labor is to notice her contractions.

You can feel the contractions by placing your hand on her tummy.

Her stomach will be contracting and releasing.

If she is still having contractions, it means that she is still in the birthing process.

3. Feel For Remaining Kittens

While feeling for rhythmic contractions, you may be able to feel for any kittens that might still be in your cat’s tummy.

If the cat is still in labor, the kitten would feel like a small potato lodged in the stomach.

It can be hard to feel for the tiny unborn kittens at times with the excess fluid in the mother cat’s stomach.

Make sure to not press your cat’s stomach area too hard or you might injure the kittens as they are still very fragile.

Look out for visible signs of her kittens moving about in her tummy.

That should give you a good sign of how many more unborn kittens are left.

4. Body Language

“She will also be vocalizing and changing positions frequently.”

The process of giving birth can be uncomfortable for your cat.

She will most likely be in some pain and discomfort.

Your cat will be restless and licking her privates often if there are still kittens in her.

She will also be vocalizing and changing positions frequently.

Changing positions helps your cat get into the best posture for pushing the kitten out.

5. Paying More Attention To The Kittens

5 cute kittens in a basket

Initially, a mother cat may seem indifferent to her newborns.

As labor progresses, mother cats spend more time grooming and caring for their litter.

This helps to remove all the body fluids off her kittens and impart her scent on them.

When your cat begins attending to her kittens and eating the placenta, it usually means she has finished giving birth.

6. Watch Your Cat’s Breathing

A feline in labor will be huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf.

Your cat’s breathing might be happening at a quicker pace as her body demands more oxygen for the task at hand.

She will usually start panting or breathing harder during her contractions.

Her breathing will slowly return to normal once she is out of labor and you will notice her contractions stopping.

7. Post-Partum Signs

The rhythmic contractions will cease once all the kittens are delivered.

The cat will start to relax and may become more calm.

Signs of contentment, grooming herself, and purring are exhibited after the cat has delivered all the kittens.

The mother cat will continue to seek a quiet, secluded spot where she feels safe to care for her newborn.

She will also likely to display protective behavior towards her kittens.

How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Finish Giving Birth?

“This phase alone can last between 24 to 36 hours.”

A cat in labor will go through certain phases.

The first stage is where your cat will start to look for a quiet, secluded area to settle down to give birth.

She will be eating a lot less, acting restless and her body temperature will drop a little.

This phase alone can last between 24 to 36 hours.

Once she is ready, the strong contractions in her tummy will start to push the first kitten out.

The birthing process can take anywhere from two to sixteen hours, depending on the size of her litter.

Labor can also last longer for cats who are giving birth for the first time.

How Do I Know My Cat Is OK After Giving Birth?

After your cat gives birth, it’s important to make sure she’s recovering well

Here are key signs to look out for:

Normal Behavior: She should gradually return to her usual behavior, showing interest in her surroundings and her kittens.

Healthy Appetite: A healthy appetite is a good sign. She should be eating and drinking well to replenish energy and produce enough milk for her kittens.

Attentive To Her Kittens: A mother cat should be nursing her kittens regularly and licking them to stimulate waste removal.

Physical Health: Check for any abnormalities and these could indicate complications.

No Signs Of Distress: Your cat shouldn’t show signs of pain or discomfort.

What Complications Can Occur During Feline Labor?

pregnant cat lying on the sofa

Most cats can handle their pregnancies without much trouble.

But be aware that there can be times when complications can arise during labor.

The most common ones are:

  • Prolonged labor
  • Dystocia or obstructed labor
  • Uterine inertia
  • Retained placenta
  • Stillbirth
  • Postpartum bleeding

Based on a study conducted on 155 cats in labor, it was discovered that Uterine inertia was one of the most common complications.

It would be good to give your vet clinic a heads-up when your cat is in labor.

This allows them to be prepared if you need to rush your cat and her kittens down for medical attention.

Here are some common signs of labor complications in cats:

  • Excessive vocalization
  • Prolonged labor
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Visible straining without results
  • Bloody or foul-smelling discharge
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Lack of contractions
  • Intervals between kittens too long

If labor complications are not treated promptly, they can become life-threatening for your cat.

When in doubt, always consult a veterinarian.

A Stalled Or Interrupted Labor

There will be some cats whose bodies will press the pause button on the labor process.

Your cat will behave as if she has given birth to all her kittens.

But in fact, there could still be one or two left unborn in her womb.

You can only detect stalled labor in your cat if you know the expected number of kittens or if you can still feel one or two kittens inside her.

I have a friend whose cat went into a stalled labor for 24 hours. She thought that her cat was done with labor.

She had a pleasant surprise when she came back and counted an extra kitten in the litter.

The stalled labor will usually begin safely. The female cat will give birth to the remaining kittens and end her labor thereafter.

Signs That Your Cat Is In Labor

Recognizing when your cat is about to go into labor is crucial for ensuring a safe and smooth birthing process.

Remember that cats might not make it immediately obvious that they’re about to give birth.

Here are some signs to look out for.

  • Preparing for Birth: Cats often lose their appetite and start looking for a secluded, cozy place as they prepare to give birth.
  • Change in Behavior: As labor begins, cats may exhibit signs of restlessness (pacing up and down), anxiety and increased meowing.
  • Physical Signs of Labor: Noticeable changes like faster breathing and a drop in body temperature
  • Labor Contractions: When a cat begins to have noticeable contractions, it’s a clear sign that labor has started.

How To Prepare For Your Cat’s Pregnancy?

“It would be best to leave your cat alone in the room alone and observe the kittening from afar.”

Before your cat’s due date, prepare for her a perfect birthing box or next that she can give birth in.

Make sure that the box is large enough for her and her litter.

Would be good to have the sides of the box that are high enough to prevent the kittens from climbing out.

Kittens are born blind and afraid hence we don’t want them trying to find a way out of the birthing box.

Line the box with soft towels and blankets that can be thrown away after the birthing process.

Even though our cats have been domesticated, cat owners do not have to intervene much during the labor process.

It would be best to leave your cat alone in the room and observe the kittening from afar.

If you have kids or other pets that can interfere with the labor, use a webcam to monitor the queen and keep the door closed.

What To Do After My Cat Has Given Birth?

cat just given birth

Do not touch or handle the kitten when they are newly born as the mother has yet to imprint her scent on them.

Only do so if you to help remove the membrane from the kitten to allow air into the kitten’s lungs.

Doing so might cause the mother cat to think that the kitten isn’t hers and ignore it.

Make sure that the mother cat is looking after and feeding her kittens well.

It is a good idea to bring the whole group to the vet after 1-2 weeks for a check-up just to be sure everybody is fine.

How Do Mother Cats And Kittens Recognize Each Other?

One interesting fact to know about is that kittens are born temporarily blind and deaf. They will start to form these senses after 2 weeks.

But they will still have their keen sense of smell from day one.

When the mother cat is almost done kittening, she will start to clean and lick her kittens religiously when no more kittens are born.

By licking her kittens, the mommy cat will leave her scent on her kittens so that she will know who belongs to her litter.

In return, her kittens will start to knead at her nipples to produce milk and imprint their scent on the mother.


Why Is My Cat Leaving Her Newborn Kittens?

A mother cat may briefly leave her kittens to fulfill basic needs such as eating or using the litter box. Prolonged absences or neglect could signal health issues or environmental stressors, warranting a vet consultation.

Why Is My Cat’s Stomach Still Big After Giving Birth?

Your cat’s belly might still appear large due to leftover pregnancy fat and skin stretching. If the enlargement persists, it could indicate serious complications like unborn kittens or retained placentas, requiring urgent vet care.

What Do You Feed A Mother Cat After Giving Birth?

Your cat’s diet should not deviate too much from the norm. She might be eating less or more than usual for a few days but should be back to her usual self soon.

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