[Cats Delivery Guide] How Long Is A Cat In Labor

How Long Is A Cat in labor- While all cats go through the same labor and delivery process, the time it takes for various kinds of cats to give birth to their kittens might vary. When it comes to birthing, Siamese and Persian cats tend to have narrow and tapering heads, while Persians have larger heads that can be more difficult to deliver. If the kittens are excessively large, several of these breeds may necessitate a cesarean section.

Usually, cats can be in a labor between 16 hours or more depending on the number of kittens your cats are having at a time. But labor in cats should not be more than 78 hours, and if it expands beyond that, it is appropriate to call your vet to come to check the mother cat.

So, let us take the time to give you nitty information on cat labor and all you need to know.

How Long Is A Cat In Labor

Feline labor often consists of two stages, each lasting a variable length of time. The number of kittens born will also have an impact on the overall length of the delivery.

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Stage 1

During the first stage of labor, the cervix and uterus are gearing for delivery, and you may not even notice it. Even if you keep a close check on yourself, you may not notice the beginnings of contractions. If you notice your cat acting agitated, pacing, and vocalizing, it’s time to get her checked out by a vet. Her litterbox visits may also be ineffective, but ideally, she will relax in her maternity bed.

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Make sure you don’t freak out if she decides to give birth somewhere other than her maternity bed. It’s safer to let her give birth where she wants to than to transfer her. A vaginal discharge may also begin to occur.

Stage 2

Having a litter of kittens is the most exciting part of a cat’s pregnancy. This can last for two hours or up to twenty-four hours. Make a final check of your birth kit and ensure that you have everything you need. While some kittens are born with their heads first (like human newborns), others are born with their feet first, which is completely normal and shouldn’t cause you any concern. Kittens usually arrive in intervals of 30 to 45 minutes, but this can often extend to over an hour.

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Keep a safe distance and only intervene if absolutely necessary: if, for example, you notice her straining hard without producing a kitten, there is a bloody discharge, or she delivers kittens very quickly without time to clean them/break the amniotic sacs.

When to Intervene in Your Cat’s Labor

Unless something goes wrong, you should only get involved in your cat’s labor if you feel it is necessary. Your cat may need help if:

  • More than four hours had elapsed since the last kitten was born despite her having experienced almost 20 minutes of nonstop contractions.
  • There is an ongoing bleed.
  • The gums of your cat are pale.
  • There is evidence of labored breathing.
  • The mother doesn’t remove the kitten’s membranes from his face.

Interrupted Labor in Cats

It’s not uncommon for a cat’s mother to take a nap in between the births of her kittens. Your cat’s labor may be interrupted if you take her to the vet and the vet does an ultrasound. Labor interruptions are rare.

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During an interruption in her labor, she will brush the kittens, relax, and possibly resume feeding before she continues the birth process.

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This time of relaxation might last anywhere from 24 to 36 hours. A veterinarian’s visit is recommended if your cat hasn’t given birth in four hours and you are expecting more. There is no way to tell if she is in interrupted labor or if there is an issue.

Contact an emergency veterinarian if you feel something is wrong with your cat’s labor and they can guide you through the necessary actions. It’s possible that a C-section will have to be performed in the veterinarian’s office.

Dystocia in Cats

In medicine, dystocia is a term used to describe a problematic situation. At any point in the labor process, it might be caused by maternal or fetal causes. It is possible for abnormalities in the presentation, posture, and the position of the fetus in the uterus to have a negative impact on the timing of a baby’s delivery.

Primary or secondary uterine inertia might exist. Secondary inertia is characterized by the termination of uterine contractions due to uterine tiredness, while primary inertia is characterized by a failure of the body to begin synchronous uterine contractions.

Occasionally, the uterine muscles can’t keep up with the demands of childbirth, leading to a condition known as postpartum hemorrhage.

During the three stages of labor, there are three distinct phases. When the cervix relaxes and the chorioallantoic sac is ruptured, the first stage of labor begins (water breaking). In the early stages of labor, the female cat (the queen) will purr and socialize. Purring is regarded to be a method of self-relaxation.

Uterine contractions push the fetuses out during the second stage of labor. Cats’ full parturition (delivery) takes an average of 16 hours, ranging from 4 to 42 hours (up to three days in some cases may be normal). Before taking any action, it’s critical to keep this range of possibilities in mind.

Delivery of the fetal membranes is the third stage. It’s possible for a female cat to go back and forth between stages 2 and 3, giving birth to multiple fetuses. Either a fetus and its membrane will be delivered with her, or she will deliver just the fetus and its membrane.

Symptoms of dystocia:

Abdominal contractions lasting more than 30 minutes with no ejection of offspring

More than four hours have passed since the start of stage two and the birth of the first child.

Over a two-hour gap between childbirths

When the rectal temperature drops below 99°F (37.2°C) for more than 24 hours, it is considered labor incompetence and should be avoided. Note that the reduction in the rectal temperature isn’t always uniform.

When she is contracting, the female cries show signs of pain, and licks her vulvar area constantly.

Longer than 68 days from the day of mating until birth

Having a bloody discharge prior to giving birth or between fetuses

Ferguson reflex (a contraction of the abdominal muscles in response to stimulation or pressure applied to the dorsal [top] vaginal wall) diminished or nonexistent; the absence of this reaction suggests uterine inertia.

Causes of Dystocia

  • The fetus is too large.
  • a fetus in the birth canal that is not in the correct place
  • Premature birth defects
  • An inability to contract the uterus
  • The abdominal press is ineffective.
  • The uterus is inflamed (usually caused by infection)
  • Gestational diabetes and pregnancy toxemia (blood poisoning)
  • Pelvic canal abnormality as a result of previous pelvic injury, atypical shape, or immaturity of the pelvis.
  • Smaller than the normal pelvis
  • Condition of the vaginal vault
  • Vesicular opening anomaly
  • Cervical dilatation that isn’t sufficient
  • Absence of sufficient lubricant
  • Torsion of the uterus
  • Rupture of the uterus
  • An abnormality in the uterus such as a tumor, cyst, or adhesion (due to previous inflammation)
  • Incidence of Dystocia Risk Factors
  • Age
  • Several breeds of Persian and Himalayan cats are available
  • Obesity
  • Before the cat goes into labor, there are sudden changes in the surroundings.
  • Dystocia has been documented in the past.

How To Diagnose Dystocia

Any information you may have about your cat’s ancestry or any previous pregnancies or reproductive issues will need to be included in the medical history you provide. Your cat’s cervix and the vaginal canal will be palpated (examined by touch) by your vet.

A packed cell volume (PCV), total protein, a BUN (blood urea nitrogen), blood glucose, and calcium concentration measurement will be taken by your veterinarian. Progesterone levels in the blood will be checked for your cat as well.

X-rays are essential for estimating the number, size, and location of developing fetuses in the womb. For more subtle measurements, an ultrasound can reveal signs of stress in the developing baby, assess the separation of the placenta from the uterus, and examine the fluid composition within it.

How To Treat Dystocia In Cats

Distressed or dystocia-diagnosed cats should be treated as inpatients until all kittens have been born and the mother has recovered.

If there are no uterine contractions and no signs of fetal stress, medical treatment will be started right away. Blood sugar, calcium, oxytocin production, or a lack of reaction to normal oxytocin production may be to blame for your cat’s current state.

When obstructive dystocia is a possibility, it is best to avoid using uterine contraction-inducing drugs since they may cause uterine rupture or hasten placental separation, both of which could result in fetal death. Glucose, calcium, and oxytocin can all be given as needed.

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When a fetus is trapped in the vaginal vault, manual delivery may be necessary.

For the sake of your kitten and the mother cat, your veterinarian will employ digital manipulation to reposition your cat. Instruments such as a spay hook or non-ratcheted forceps may be utilized to help in delivery if digital manipulations are not possible because of the narrow vaginal vault.

With proper lubrication, your veterinarian will direct the tool by putting a finger in the vaginal vault and taking great care to ensure that both mother and kittens are safe. A queen’s tiny vaginal vault precludes the use of tools in most situations.

As a result, extreme care should be exercised. Miscarriage risks include damage to the fetus, as well as lacerations to the vagina or uterus. Live fetuses’ limbs should never be subjected to traction. Unable to deliver the baby within 30 minutes, doctors recommend a Cesarean section.

Living and managing cats’ Dystocia

Consult your veterinarian about scheduling an elective cesarean section in advance of your cat going into labor if your cat is of a breed that is predisposed to dystocia or if your cat has a personal or family history of dystocia To protect the mother and the kittens’ health, it must be done as exactly as possible. If you feel that your cat is suffering from dystocia early in childbirth, contact your veterinarian immediately to avoid further issues in the mother and kittens’ lives.

Pre Labor Signs In Cats

here are the pre-labor signs in your cats. You will notice an enlarged Mammary Glands, Nesting Behavior, Drop-in Temperature, Affectionate & Restless, Reduced Appetite, Panting & Over-Grooming.

How Long Can A Cat Be In Labor Between Kittens

Stages two and three are repeated every 10 to 60 minutes, depending on the number of kittens being delivered. In most cases, the birth is completed within six hours, but it might take as long as 12 hours.

Symptoms Of Dead Kitten Inside Cat

There may be a dead kitten inside your cat if she emits an unpleasant odor while you are home. You and your cat may find this smell unpleasant, as it is created by the decomposition of the kitten’s body. Your cat should be taken to the clinic as soon as possible if you suspect she murdered a kitten.

A variety of things could be going on behind the scenes if you notice that your cat isn’t moving or behaving normally. Lethargy, not eating or drinking, and not using the litter box are all signs to watch out for. Take your cat to the vet if you suspect it is ill.

How To Stimulate Cat Labor

The best way to induce cat labor is to take them to the vet. It is not medically advisable to help cats induce birth just like a normal human can. Your best bet is to have your vet handle the situation.

Cat Giving Birth For The First Time

It’s possible to see cats scratching and arranging their beds, and some may even begin to paint. When a cat goes into labor for the first time, it might take up to 36 hours for the process to begin. During the final twenty-four hours before labor, the queen usually stops eating and her temperature can fall below 100°F (37.8°C).

Should I Stay With My Cat While She Gives Birth

While giving birth, most female cats prefer not to be petted or otherwise interfered with. Give your cat as much solitude as possible while yet being able to keep an eye on the delivery process for any symptoms of difficulties or distress.

Cat Gave Birth To Empty Sac

A cat giving birth to an empty sac simply signifies the presence of the placenta or the amniotic fluid that houses the kittens inside the mother cat.

Cat Shaking During Labor

though this should not be new, it is showing the cat is in great pain owing to contractions and sometimes, it may mean low calcium in the mother cat.

How Long Is A Cat Pregnant For

Cat pregnancies typically last between 63 and 67 days, however, the exact duration of a cat’s pregnancy is difficult to determine. Cats can have gestation periods ranging from 61 to 72 days.

For the first few weeks of her pregnancy, your cat (queen) may not show any visible signs of her pregnancy. Consult your veterinarian if you have any suspicions that your cat might be pregnant.

It’s possible to identify whether or not your cat is pregnant by looking at its physical characteristics after two or three weeks.

How Many Kittens Can A Cat Have In Its Lifetime?

At least kittens can have over 180 cats in their lifetime.

How Many Kittens Can A Cat Reproduce?

A cat can have three litters of kittens, each containing four kittens, on average per year. Female cats can have kittens for 12 to 15 years since they can breed practically their entire life. Thus, a female cat might give birth to 180 kittens in her lifespan.

Do Cats Eat Their Kittens?

Yes, that’s the response. If a kitten is malformed, stillborn, or has other birth problems, cats may consume it. If a mother cat is under stress, she might even consume her young.

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Should I Remove A Dead Kitten From The Litter?

No, the mother’s natural tendency is to try to clean her kittens. Any babies who were stillborn or passed away soon after birth will be included in this. It’s crucial that you leave the kitten with the mother despite how terrifying it may seem so that she understands what has happened.

Can A Cat Get Pregnant By A Dog?

No, because they are not genetically compatible.

Do male cats mate with pregnant cats?

No, though the male will make an attempt to mate with the pregnant cats, owing to the factor that kittens only mate when she is in heat, and because she is pregnant, she won’t allow the make copulate with it.

Can A 3 Month Old Kitten Get Pregnant?

Yes, it is very much possible

How Long Is A Cat Pregnant For?

Usually, a female cat’s gestational period lasts for 65 days at least.

How Long Is A Cat In Labor?

Usually, it takes a kitten 16hrs to labor and sometimes may take up to 3 days depending on the birth difficulty being faced by your kitten.

How Many Kittens Can A Male Cat Father?

A male cat can meet with an unlimited number of kittens.

Do Father Cats Know Their Kittens?

Probably not, since feral cats breed frequently and can have a litter from more than one father in a single litter. However, some tomcats can still distinguish between the scent of their own kittens and their own littermates.

Will A Father Cat Mate With His Daughter?

Cats may, but not always, breed with their own offspring. To mate with distant relatives like grandparents and grandchildren, a cat is more likely to mate with another cat of the same generation. In most cases, female cats are much pickier when it comes to mating.

Can a cat get pregnant by 2 males?

If multiple male sperm enters the reproductive tube, the eggs will be fertilized by several sperm from various males. However, having several fathers is not a regular occurrence.

Can You Touch Newborn Kittens?

Vets advise not interacting with kittens unless absolutely necessary when their eyes are closed. You can keep an eye on them to make sure they’re eating and getting enough exercise, but refrain from touching them too much. It is the kitten’s mother’s job to let you know if she is comfortable with you touching her children.

Do Mama Cats Miss Their Kittens?

Cats do not “remember” or “grieve” for their kittens as humans do, therefore removing them before the age of 10 weeks and before they are fully weaned may prolong the mother cat’s behavior. However, this is not by much, as cats are instinctively programmed to leave their litter.

Can A Cat Be Pregnant With 2 Different Litters?

Heteropaternal superfecundation is the term for this phenomenon. Imagine these kittens as fraternal twins that share the same uterus but are genetically distinct from one another. However, instead of one male fertilizing many eggs, each kitten may be the offspring of a separate tom.

How Many Kittens Can A 1-Year-Old Cat Have?

The gestation period of a healthy cat lasts approximately 63–65 days, and queens may experience an estrus cycle four weeks after giving birth, even if they are still nursing. A healthy queen might have three litters a year, with each one carrying up to 12 kittens.

How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Have Kittens?

Usually, it takes a kitten 16hrs to labor and sometimes may take up to 3 days depending on the birth difficulty being faced by your kitten.

How Soon Can A Cat Get Pregnant After Having Kittens?

With a range of 1 to 21 weeks, she often returns to the season around 8 weeks after the kittens are born. The kittens are often weaned around this time.

How Many Kittens Usually Survive In A Litter?

The mortality rate, or proportion of kittens who pass away at or soon after birth, ranges from 15% to 30%. As a result, it is likely that one kitten will not survive in a typical litter. Another possibility is that every kitten will be healthy.

Is A Cats Second Litter Bigger?

They typically grow faster and bigger with succeeding litters. They frequently don’t start to show much at all for the first litter until close to 6 weeks. A few years ago, I had a foster cat that was enormous at four weeks old but only gave birth to three vigorous, kind of massive, kittens.

Cats First Litter What To Expect?

Some cats may start panting, while others may be seen scratching and building beds. This first stage of labor, which occurs in many first-time cat moms, can last up to 36 hours. In the final twenty-four hours before labor, the queen typically stops eating, and her body temperature may fall below 100°F (37.8°C).

How Many Kittens Can A Tabby Cat Have?

The average litter contains between four and eight kittens, but individual litter sizes can range from one to more than ten. First-time litters, on the other hand, are typically smaller and only have two to three kittens. Your cat’s lineage will also affect the size of the litter.


So, in your quest to know how long your cat can be in labour, w have given you full information that will guide you in course of your cats labor and what you ned to know and what you need to do.

Author: David Arthur

David's lifelong passion for animals blossomed into a dream profession in 2020. He founded Petscareway Inc., a professional pet care company situated in the Texas. Several veterinarians have educated him in Pet First Aid and CPR since 2003. David decided to become a certified Pet First Aid and CPR instructor in 2011 after completing an instructor training course. David decided he had to be a part of ProPetHero when he discovered them in 2016 and saw how they were offering ER veterinarian-led training to everyone. As a result, he became a member of the ProTrainings family, the designers of ProPetHero. He volunteers and fosters for The Boxer Rescue Inc in his spare time, is a health-conscious Boxer breeder, and is a member of the Middlesex Boxer Club and Wachusett Kennel Club. David has served as a mentor to many people in the pet industry and in the small company world. When he's not working or helping, he's competing with his dogs in agility, lure coursing, and conformation trials across the country. David can be seen training with his puppies, hiking with them on trails, or playing in his backyard when he is not at a trial or trying to find a nice home for a Boxer through the rescue.

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