How to Induce Cat Labor

By Andrea Di Salvo

A cat is usually low-maintenance throughout her pregnancy. Most mother cats, called queens, remain that way when it’s time to deliver their kittens. Birth happens without any need for human intervention, with normal human involvement limited to staying out of the way and giving the mother space. That’s not always the case, though. If your cat is past her due date or if you think her health may be in danger, it may be time to induce labor.

Play with your cat and encourage her to run around the house. Exercise is an excellent way to induce labor in any species and won’t harm the mother cat if she’s not ready for labor.

Set up a sturdy box lined with soft bedding in a secluded, quiet and dim corner. Once this is available, your cat may begin the delivery process without any need to induce labor.

Sprinkle one capsule of red raspberry over your cat’s canned food once every day. Many cat breeders use red raspberry to induce labor.

Take the queen cat's temperature. Find someone to hold the cat for you while you use a rectal thermometer. Your cat's normal rectal temperature is 100 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit but will drop to 98 to 99 degrees when she's ready to give birth. Take note and call your vet if her temperature is higher than 102, as this may signal a problem.

Watch for movement from the kittens and nipples that secrete milk. These are both signs that her due date may be near.

Look at your cat to see if she is panting, pacing, shivering or acting anxious. These are normal behaviors in a queen six to 24 hours before she gives birth.

If still uncertain whether your cat is ready for labor, take her to your vet. An ultrasound or x-ray will help determine how advanced the kittens are in their development and if it is time to induce labor.

Know your options before you approach your vet. If the kittens are ready to be born, your vet will suggest either oxytocin to induce labor, which will take effect in about an hour, or a c-section.