Veterinary Support

Most births take place without the need for veterinary intervention but you should know when to call for help. Apart from the distressing case of a queen unable to expel a breech kitten there are two other situations that call for swift veterinary support.

One is a queen who has been having strong contractions for two hours without any sign of a kitten appearing, which could be caused by two kittens in the birth canal. The other is uterine inertia when a queen suddenly tires and her contractions weaken and then cease despite obviously having more kittens to come. This is quite different from the resting described previously and the queen often seems distressed and exhausted. In some cases an injection of oxytocin given by your Vet will re-establish contractions and enable the queen to deliver the rest of the litter. In others a caesarean delivery may be needed, which is not as alarming as it sounds.

After the Vet has established breathing the kittens will be placed in an incubator while the queen is brought round from the anaesthetic. When this happens, it is important to bond a mother with her kittens as soon as possible. If your Vet advises that they can be taken home immediately, however, they should not be all in one carrier. The queen may still be drowsy and could roll on them or may act aggressively towards the kittens as a result of the anaesthetic.

Once home, place mum in a warm cosy box in a quiet room with subdued lighting and whilst talking to her in a reassuring manner offer her the strongest kitten. In an ideal scenario this kitten will try to latch onto a nipple to feed and this will reinforce the maternal instinct. So gauge her reaction and if she licks the first kitten gradually add the rest of the litter. If she growls just keep reassuring and praising her. If she doesn’t respond favourably or attempts to bite the kitten remove it for a while and then try again.

You can also try putting a little of her favourite food or a few drops of evaporated milk on the kitten’s back and see if she will lick it off. If she won’t do that offer her a very small meal and then try again. It is virtually unheard of for a queen not to accept her kittens eventually, particularly after one has suckled, so you just need to be patient with her and keep trying.