kittening

Labour in the queen

Labour in the queen cat

Labour occurs in 3 stages

Stage 1- Getting ready

The Queen's rectal temp drops, but this is a less reliable sign compared to the bitch. She may look anxious, pace and be seen to search for a place to give birth. Some queens will go off their food when 1st stage begins. Stage 1 Lasts 6-12 hrs but could be as long as 36 hrs if it is her 1st pregnancy


Stage 2 - Delivery of the kittens

Signs of 2nd stage labour include

Straining - having contractions

Pass foetal fluids - her waters have broken

Her rectal temp back to N if it indeed dropped

Stage 2 Lasts 3-12 hrs - rarely up to 24 hrs


Stage 3 - Passing of placenta

This mixes in with 2nd stage with multiple births


Identifying when 2nd stage labour has started is important, as the vet does not intervene unless 2nd stage fails to proceed normally


To reiterate, check for signs it is in 2nd stage

She has passed fluids - water bag has broken

Visible abdominal straining - contractions have begun

Rectal temperature has returned to normal - but only if it dropped during stage 1

 If any of these are present then 2nd stage labour has begun

Normal Progression

First Kitten - within 1 hour

Interval between kittens - 5min - 2 hrs

The whole of 2nd stage labour - ie first to last kitten, 3-12 hrs - up to 24hrs rarely

All the above is normal. If it does not follow this pattern then it is worth having the Queen checked by a vet

The following are indications for seeing the vet

Strong regular contractions for 20-30 min with no kitten -> urgently see vet
Foetal fluids (waters) passed 2-3 hours ago but nothing since

Weak irregular contractions only for 2-4 hours

2nd stage Labour goes beyond 12 hours

Reddish discharge but no kitten for 2-4 hours

If 2-4 hours since last kitten and sure more are present

Following birth

An elevated temperature of up to 39.5 C is not unusual for 1-2 days following birth

A clear to bloody discharge may continue at a low level for 3-6 weeks

Ensure she is producing milk from sufficient teats to feed the whole litter