Help! My Cat Is Having Kittens! – The Essential Guide For Worried Owners

"Help! My cat is having kittens, and I think there's a problem!"

We often encounter this panicked plea in online threads, accompanied by a flurry of exclamation marks.

It's no surprise that witnessing the birth of kittens can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially when things don't seem to be going as expected. But fear not!

This article is here to guide you through the process, help you understand what is normal, and equip you with the knowledge to recognize when it's time to intervene or seek professional help.

 little baby kitten has just been born

As you read on, you'll find insights into the stages of cat birth, what to expect, and when to call your vet.

Whether you're a seasoned cat owner or experiencing your first feline delivery, this comprehensive guide will empower you to support your beloved pet through the miracle of birth.

Please note that this article does not substitute for professional medical advice. If you're concerned about your cat's well-being during birth, it's always best to consult your vet.

For a list of everything to prepare in advance, see our article about What to Prepare for Cat Birth.

My Cat's Water Broke

It's perfectly normal for the water to break before birth, either in a slow drizzle or in a gush. You don't need to do anything about it.

My Cat Has A Massive Vaginal Discharge

The birth process often begins with a white, creamy, pink, or clear discharge from the vulva. This is the mucus plug being expelled from the birth canal and is perfectly normal.

Calico Scottish Fold cat giving birth showing the kitten in the amniotic sac

Your cat will probably lick it off herself. All you have to do is stay calm and keep watch.

When To Intervene

If the discharge is foul-smelling, is green or brown in color, or has the color and consistency of pus, it could indicate an infection in the uterus. Call your vet and ask for advice. This can happen before or after birth, sometimes hours or days later.

A Kitten Is Coming Out Tail First

This is perfectly natural. Kittens can be born with their front part or rear part first. There is no reason for concern.

Dystocia is a difficult condition to give fetus birth, cat giving birth showing the kitten in the vagina.

My Cat Is Taking Too Long To Deliver The Next Kitten

Cats can take up to a few hours and sometimes even a day or two between delivering kittens.

It's also possible that the entire litter is just one or two kittens and that the birth is over.

If at least one kitten and its placenta come out, check the cat for signs of further contractions.


When To Intervene

If the cat appears to be straining, panting, or heaving for more than half an hour and no kitten comes out, it's time for an emergency call to your vet.

I Think A Kitten Is Stuck In The Birth Canal

This is a rare situation, but it can happen. You won't be able to get to the vet in time, so you may have to take care of this yourself.

kitten stuck or the mother cat has difficulty in giving birth

When To Intervene

If you can see part of the kitten has come out, and the rest appears to be stuck and isn't coming out despite the cat pushing, you may have to help the kitten out.

Use sterile surgical gloves and gently grab the kitten by the armpits (of the front or back legs, whichever came out first), and steadily and gently pull slightly downwards towards the mother cat's feet and out.

Never pull a kitten by its head, tail, or legs. Be very gentle; if you can't get the kitten out, there's no choice but to put the mother and kittens into a carrier and rush her to the nearest veterinary clinic.

It may be too late for the kitten, but the vet may be able to save your cat's life.

The Kitten Is Out But The Placenta Didn't Come Out

Each kitten's birth should be followed by its placenta being expelled. Give it some time but make sure the placenta comes out (at which point the mother cat will probably eat it).

Cat giving birth to Kittens inside the box

Never ever attempt to pull a placenta out of the uterus. There's a rare complication where the placenta is stuck to the uterus. If you pull it, you will cause the cat to bleed to death.

When To Intervene

Keep track of the number of placentas and do so in writing.

If you haven't seen the same number of placentas coming out as the number of kittens, or if one of the placentas wasn't whole, contact your vet.

My Cat Won't Tear The Amniotic Sac And Lick The Kittens

Inexperienced cats may sometimes fail to tear the sac themselves and lick it off the kitten. This is done within minutes after birth, allowing the kitten to breathe appropriately.

Newborn kitten is still in the amniotic bag

When To Intervene

If it's been more than 3 to 4 minutes and the mother cat is ignoring the kitten, you need to use your hands to tear the amniotic sac from the kitten's face.

If there's fluid and secretions in its mouth and nose, use a piece of sterile gauze to very gently clean that, allowing the kitten to breathe.

Leave the rest of the amniotic sac for the momma cat to handle and place the kitten beside her.

My Cat Won't Cut The Umbilical Cord

As long as the placenta is still inside the mother cat, there's not much you can do about this yourself. Give the cat time to get to the umbilical cord, and don't rush it.

Newborn two kitten with umbilical cord is stick intact

When To Intervene

If the placenta has been expelled for over a few minutes and the mother cat doesn't appear to be cleaning the kitten from the amniotic sac, you should step in.

Gently strip the kitten from the amniotic sac (as described above).

Use sterile forceps to clamp the cord about an inch away from the kitten's body or tie a tight knot there with non-waxed dental floss.

Only then cut the umbilical cord using a sterile pair of scissors. The cutting point should be about half an inch away from the clamps or knot, between them and the placenta.

Remember never to do this if the placenta is still inside the mother.

My Cat Is Eating The Placentas, Or Maybe She's Not...

It is perfectly natural for the mother cat to eat the placentas. It's a source of needed nutrients and a way for her to clean the nest naturally.

cat eating placenta around with new born kittens

However, if a young and inexperienced pet cat won't eat the placentas, that is not a problem.

When To Intervene

Eating too many placentas could cause diarrhea. Our advisor StefanZ recommends not allowing the cat to eat more than four placentas.

If the litter is larger, you should remove the placentas after they've fully expelled.

My Cat Won't Nurse The Kittens

Kittens usually find the nipples and begin suckling within minutes after being cleaned by the mother cat. It can take a while longer, and that's perfectly normal too.

Some mother cats prefer to have all the kittens first and only then begin to nurse. Don't stress over this until the birth is over and all kittens and placentas are out.

female feline cat give birth

When To Intervene

If you notice the kittens trying to nurse but no milk is coming out, or if the mother cat rejects the kittens after the birth is over, you may need to supplement with a milk replacer.

Supporting Your Cat Through Birth

The birth of kittens is a fascinating, albeit complex, process.

As you've learned from this article, understanding what to expect and when to intervene is crucial in supporting your cat through this special time.

Remember to stay calm, trust your instincts, and consult your vet if you have concerns.

Embrace this incredible experience with an open heart and a willingness to learn, and you'll grow alongside your feline family.


Check out the article about hand-rearing kittens for more information.

Sometimes the birth itself goes well, but complications appear hours or even days later, so please also take a few minutes to read our article about post-birth complications.

Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!

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10 comments on “Help! My Cat Is Having Kittens! – The Essential Guide For Worried Owners

Kushina June 28, 2022
When I was younger, my cat Onyx became pregnant three times. First in 2014, next in 2015 then in 2016. My cat didn't have any complications. We tried getting her spayed after the first litter, but somehow it didn't work. After the third litter, we finally managed to get her spayed. Most of the time, the mother deals with it on her own. However, if you see any complications, go to the vet.
Euzok February 12, 2019
My cat Chloe is pregnant, swollen nipples, big belly overeating and stuff B U T, it's like she doesn't care.. She jumps where ever, plays and runs, as if she isn't pregnant. She's been pregnant for 2 months already but she hasn't start nesting yet. Unlike our other cat Kiray, she starts nesting as soon as her belly is getting big. H e l p.
Sky18 August 17, 2018
My cat is pregnant. Not sure how far along but her nipples are as long as a rice grain and white and she is showing. She appears to be thinner now then yesterday and all she does is sleeps a lot and eat frequently but only a few bites. (I would say no more then 2 minutes per feeding.) During the day she up walking around for a few minutes at a time then plops down and will clean herself down there and her belly
Need help asap March 3, 2018
My cat gave birth to dead baby..... the second one came out fine she feed it and napped with it she stop pushing.. is she done with giving birth..? .I heard the baby crying I ran to find the mom having baby's head in her mouth and pulled my cat away but she's was fighting to keep it in her mouth what do I do please help.. what should I do?
theraven March 18, 2015
the momma-cat in the pic looks so much like my cat :)
antifrosting February 12, 2015
I just.needed something to read
conikat December 14, 2014
Yes it is very good. I've been through most of these issues myself. Usually these problems come with very young mothers having their first litter. With a little time, and some gentle suggestion from us, they usually do very well.
siopaocat August 20, 2014
Thanks! A very helpful article. 
kittehkatlover May 26, 2014
Thank you so much! This helps a lot know I know what to do when there is a problem during the delivery..... 
sweetheartsphnx March 15, 2014
This is a very good article, And great for those who cant get to a vet but have no clue what to do :) I was taught by another breeder most of this information and it is accurate and works well. Thanks for posting!

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