What Are the Symptoms of a Cat Going Into Labor?

By Jane Meggitt

Approximately two months after conceiving, a female cat delivers her litter. When the initial symptoms of labor appear, the kittens might not arrive for another 12 to 36 hours. Keep an eye on Kitty, but bother her as little as possible. If she stops eating and appears restless, chances are that kittens will soon appear.

Behavioral Changes

In early labor, you might notice behavioral changes in your cat. She becomes restless, nervous and possibly clingy. A cat soon to give birth might need constant reassurance from her person; she might follow you around the house. She might also meow constantly. As she goes into labor, she might start panting. She could also start purring more than usual, a feline method of calming and relaxing.

Making a Nest

A few days prior to delivery, your cat will begin nesting, or creating a place in which to give birth. Provide her with a suitable nesting box, or she will make a birthing spot on her own, in your closet or some other out-of-the-way place. The nesting box should be large and long enough so the mother has plenty of room and kittens can't fall out of it. Line the box with newspapers, followed by an clean towel or blanket you don't mind disposing of. Place the box in a quiet area of the house and keep other pets or kids away.

Temperature Changes

If you have experience delivering puppies, you know that a drop in the mother's temperature means birth within 24 hours. A drop in temperature also signals impending delivery in felines -- but not as reliably as in canines. A cat's normal body temperature ranges between 99.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Take your pregnant cat's temperature daily as her due date approaches. When it falls below 99 degrees, odds are she'll deliver within a day or so.

Labor Problems

Most cat deliveries proceed smoothly, but there are always exceptions. When your cat reaches the second stage of labor -- the actual delivery -- her contractions become strong and painful and she pushes out the kittens. If you notice her pushing hard for more than half an hour with no kitten expelled, or if she's in normal labor for more than four hours without a kitten, contact your veterinarian. If she's produced one or more kittens but remains in labor and goes more than two hours without delivering another baby, call the vet.