Post-birth Complications In Cats

Dealing with feline pregnancy can be challenging in its own right, but it's only the beginning. The real challenge often comes after birth. Just like with humans, newborn kittens are extremely fragile, and there are a number of things that can go wrong. If you are caring for a pregnant cat, please read this guide and learn the signs and symptoms of various complications. Some of these could be medical emergencies, so be prepared in advance.

Remember - spaying your cat is the best way to avoid potential complications which could end up being stressful and expensive to deal with. Read more about the importance of spaying and neutering cats here.

Note: We may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page.

Possible Complications After the Kittens Are Born

Kitty had her kittens and now things should go smoothly, right? Not necessarily. There are a number of complications that you need to watch out for.


That is the medical term for insufficient milk to feed the kittens. If the kittens are restless or constantly crying, it could be because they are hungry. Milk supply should increase as Kitty feeds them—if not, you’ll have to supplement the supply and bottle feed them every couple of hours.


Swollen and full mammary glands can be a problem, too. You’ll need to apply warm compresses to ease Kitty’s pain. Symptoms, besides the visual, are general discomfort and tenderness to the touch.


This is often seen in combination with Galactostasis and means there is a bacterial infection in one or more of the mammary glands. Symptoms will include glands swollen and hot to the touch, discolored milk (brown or reddish) that indicates white or red blood cells in the milk, lack of appetite, listlessness and refusal to nurse the kittens. Kitty will need a vet visit and the kittens will have to be fed by bottle. If you don’t treat this, the kittens will be prone to infection, malnutrition and even death. Kitty can have further complications. This calls for immediate veterinary care.


This is when Kitty suffers a severe loss of calcium which is known as hypocalcemia. What to look for: trembling of the muscles, high fever, loss of appetite, agitated behavior, excessive panting, and difficulty walking. If left untreated, it will be followed by muscle spasms, pale gums, drooling, seizures and a general lack of coordination. This is an emergency situation. If calcium is not replaced, death may occur in a matter of hours. Some cats have a pre-disposition for eclampsia and if so, it will occur with each litter.


If a fetus or the placenta is not delivered, Kitty will develop a uterine infection. The symptoms are fever, loss of appetite, refusal to nurse the kittens and lack of energy or interest. Do not leave this untreated. See the veterinarian at once.

Postpartum Hemorrhage

Bleeding after the birth of the kittens, which may be extreme, is life-threatening to Kitty. Seek immediate veterinary help.


This is a failure to produce milk. Most often it is a failure to express the milk. Encourage the kittens to try, while supplementing with bottle feedings. This condition can be brought on by premature birth or stress.

Be on the Alert

The birth of the kittens is not the end. It’s just the beginning. Have milk supplements and bottles on hand in case Kitty can’t feed the kittens. Be watchful for symptoms. With some problems, a wait-and-see attitude is only a matter of feeding the kittens by the bottle - every couple of hours, day and night - while other complications call for immediate veterinary help, even if it’s after hours or the weekend. Know where the emergency clinic is and be sure someone can bottle-feed the kittens while you’re at the clinic. The kittens will need to be kept warm, too - and even when ill, Kitty may not want to be separated from them, so plan on taking them along. The vet may want to examine them as well, to make sure the infection or bacteria hasn't been passed along to them or to make sure they are eating properly. This will add to your vet bill considerably.

Pregnancy and the ensuing litter of kittens are not for the faint of heart or the squeamish. Know what to expect and be as prepared as possible. The lives of your cat and her kittens may depend on it.

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

6 comments on “Post-birth Complications In Cats

Ferlin September 12, 2020
I have a cat who gave birth to 4 litters a month ago but i can still feel q or 2 litters inside the mother. It's after a month she gave birth and the other litters is not out yet. What should I do?
    MarkMDP October 14, 2020
    Please take the cat to the vet immediately. No online advice can beat professional attention and diagnosis.
Babypaws August 5, 2018
I have a cat that has given birth to two litters within 14 weeks. She had 3 in the first litter and 6 in the litter born on August 1. She was a stray (feral) cat that was born in our yard last summer, had kittens and when they were about 5 weeks old I brought the kittens and mother cat inside. They haven’t been outside since but the mother cat was pregnant again and I didn’t know it. I had planned to have her spayed once the kittens were weaned (before I knew she was pregnant again). The reason why I’m writing is because I don’t think she’ll have enough milk to nurse them for 4-5 weeks, I feel so bad for her because her nipples look so red and sore. I bought a can of Nutri-Vet milk replacement along with a small nursing bottle in case I need to help her but I don’t know how to go about it..should I feed the same kittens and let her nurse the rest? Also, when I’ve had to move the kittens to change the blanket they were born on I used a paper towel to pick them up so I wouldn’t get my scent on them. Heard some cats could move or even kill kittens if they felt they were in danger. Although the mother seems like she trusts me and hasn’t growled or hissed at me.. Is there anything that can be done for mommy’s sore nipples?
TomTomTomcat June 19, 2018
Roseyposey1974 said:
Is it normal for a first time litter to have 2 kittens but only 1 made it is that a normal??
I just adopted a stray cat. She is very young and only had 2 kittens. How did your situation turn out? Were there any complications? I'm waiting for payday (Friday) to take her in for a check up. Everything seems fine but I'm afraid she might have a dead kitten or retained placenta inside :( did everything work out ok for yall?
Roseyposey1974 April 3, 2018
Is it normal for a first time litter to have 2 kittens but only 1 made it is that a normal??
    Kushina June 28, 2022
    It's normal for a kitten to not make it. At least one dies the majority of the time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *