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Birth Difficulties in Cats



Cats that are in distress and have been diagnosed with dystocia should be treated on an inpatient basis until all of the offspring have been delivered and until the mother has stabilized. If uterine contractions are absent and there is no evidence of fetal stress, medical treatment will be initiated. Your cat's condition may be due to low blood sugar, low levels of blood calcium, inadequate oxytocin production by the body or an inadequate response to normal oxytocin production.


Agents used to promote uterine contractions should not be administered when obstructive dystocia is possible, as they may accelerate placental separation and fetal death, or may cause uterine rupture. Oxytocin, glucose and calcium can be supplemented as needed.


Manual delivery may be necessary to deliver a fetus that is lodged in the vaginal vault.

Your veterinarian will use digital manipulation to reposition the kitten, since this method provides the least amount of damage to the kitten and mother cat. If the vaginal vault is too small for digital manipulations, instruments, such as a spay hook or non-ratcheted forceps, may be used to assist in delivery. Throughout the process, your veterinarian will use adequate lubrication, always placing a finger in the vaginal vault to direct the instrument and always taking great care to protect the lives of both mother and kittens. With queens the use of instruments is not normally recommended because of the small size of the vaginal vault.


Extreme caution should be used under these circumstances. Undesirable complications include mutilation of the fetus and laceration of the vaginal canal or uterus. Traction should never be applied to the limbs of a live fetus. If there is a failure to deliver the fetus within 30 minutes a Cesarean section is indicated.


Living and Management


If your cat is a breed predisposed to dystocia, or if your cat has a personal or familial history of dystocia, ask your veterinarian about the possibility of scheduling an elective cesarean section before your cat can go into labor. It must be timed as precisely as possible to ensure the health of the mother and kittens. If you suspect early in labor that your cat is suffering from dystocia, contact your veterinarian immediately so as to prevent further complications in the lives of the mother and kittens.

Image: Orhan Cam via Shutterstock


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