Retained Afterbirth in Cats

By PetMD Editorial on Dec. 19, 2012

Retained Placenta in Cats

A retained placenta, or retained afterbirth, occurs when the placenta (the sac surrounding an unborn kitten) is not expelled from the mother’s uterus along with the kitten at the time of birth or shortly after.

Symptoms and Types

  • Green discharge from vulva that continues
  • Fever (in some cases)
  • Systemic disease (in some cases)


The placenta is retained in the uterus rather than being expelled with or shortly after the birth of the kitten.


History of a recent birth with a physical examination finding of a green discharge from the vulva is supportive of a diagnosis of retained placenta. Your veterinarian may recommend routine blood testing, though these results may be normal. Vaginal cytology may also be recommended. Your veterinarian may need to take X-rays and/or perform an ultrasound of the uterus. In some cases, exploratory surgery may be necessary.


Oxytocin may be administered in an attempt to expel the retained placenta. If medical treatment with oxytocin is unsuccessful, ovariohysterectomy (spay) may be recommended if your cat is not to be bred again.

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