Signs of Labor
It is very hard to know the exact date of conception for your your cat. Combine that with the fact that gestation should be 63 days but can be between 60 to 70 days and her due date is any ones guess. Luckily, cats do show signs that they are preparing for birth before the big day. Here are some things to watch for.
A few days before:
Development of milk: you can feel for growth of her mammary glands (milk ducts) by rubbing her belly or expressing milk (milking your cat. lol)
Nesting behavior: look for her gathering soft thing into an area where she feels comfortable. This is the time to introduce your choice for a nest box.
Contractions: you will be able to see her stomach tighten. She will freeze up if you are petting her. She might bite or get aggressive if you continue to touch her. She is not being mean, she is in pain.
Overly Affectionate: If she is a friendly cat she may become overly affectionate or try to be near you constantly.
Diarrhea: As the kittens move close to the birth canal they may cause diarrhea. She may not be able to get to the litter box quick enough so might find stool else where. (she's really sorry though)
About 24 hours before:
Excess licking: She will clean herself, particularly her genitals, constantly.
Vaginal Discharge: She will pass the mucus plug that protected her womb from infection just before birth. You may not notice this because she will be cleaning her self.
Contractions: These will now intensify and become productive.
Panting: She may pant during contractions, this means she is in active labor
Loss of appetite: She will likely stop eating the day of delivery
Vomiting: If she does not stop eating she will likely vomit as her contractions get stronger.
Drop in Temperature: A cat's normal temperature is around 101 degrees. Before birth the cats temperature will drop below 100 degrees usually to around 99 degrees.
When your cat begins to show the signs of labor in the second column, it is time to move her to an area she is comfortable with and you can keep clean during delivery. This is usually a room without carpet because birth is messy. You will need to keep her calm and provide her with water and somewhere warm to lay. Depending on the cat, you may want to restrict access of other pets to this area while she is in labor. If you are going to help with the delivery, you will need to get a few supplies ready.
Things to keep on hand:
Lots of towels
Lots of towels
While you are waiting for the first kitten you can prepare your supplies. Turn the heating pad on low and cover with a towel. Keep this towel clean or change it as needed. You will put the kittens here while she delivers the next one to prevent them from getting stepped one. Clean the birthing area (the floor, not the cat) with the wipes and continue to clean it through the whole process. Clean the scissors with the alcohol. You will use these if you need to cut the umbilical cord. Clean after every use. Most importantly try to keep the atmosphere calm and quiet. Give her lots of praise and keep her will hydrated. Remember if she is happy with you there it is because you are her support. Try to keep her in the cleaned area. If you need to move her, remember that labor is painful so be careful. Move her between contractions, not during. She may try to choose a different area to give birth, sometimes she may even want to have the kittens on your lap. (You should be flattered. lol.) If this happens, gently move her back to the birthing area and try to keep her there by either giving her more privacy or the affection she wants while she is in the appropriate area. (depending on what she is wanting) For privacy you can use anything that will make her more comfortable. A chair, box, tote, anything to help her feel more secure. For more information on the birthing process please read the section on delivery.