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Post Natal Complications in Cats

Post natal complications can arise in any cat and it is prudent that the cat owner is aware of potential problems and know what to look out for after your cat has given birth.  Being alert and watching closely for signs of symptoms of possible problems will mean that these problems will be picked up, and treated as quickly as possible.

  • Postpartum haemorrhage: As mentioned above, some discharge is normal, but if the discharge is bright red, or there is an excessive volume seek immediate veterinary help.
  • Mastitis: Mastitis (inflammation of the mammary gland) occurs when the lactating queen's mammary gland(s) becomes inflamed, blocked or infected. Symptoms include pain, heat, and swelling of the affected gland(s), fever,  milk may be bloody, yellow or thick, the queen may refuse to let her kittens nurse from the affected gland, the queen may become depressed and lose her appetite and become dehydrated, lethargy, sick or dying kittens.
  • Acute Metritis: This is inflammation of the lining of the uterus (endometrium) post partum. It is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection. It can be caused by retained placentas or kittens, or unsanitary conditions. Symptoms include; lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, fever, foul smelling, dark discharge from the vagina.
  • Agalactia (complete lack of milk supply) and dysgalactia (decreased milk supply): This may be caused by inadequate nutritional support of the queen,  large litter size, deformed nipple(s) or occasionally caesarean sections. Suckling should be encouraged as this assists with milk production (the more stimulation, the more milk is produced). Fresh drinking water should be available at all times, and she should be provided with as much high-quality food as she wants. By the second week of lactation, she will require up to three times the amount of calories as a non-pregnant cat. Kittens may cry and fail to thrive. Your veterinarian may recommend you supplement the litter or he may prescribe a medication to assist with milk production or both.
  • Eclampsia: Also known as milk fever or puerperal tetany, eclampsia is a life-threatening condition which occurs in late pregnancy or after birth as a result of blood calcium levels becoming dangerously depleted, leading to  hypocalcemia. Signs of eclampsia include restlessness, anorexia, walking with a stiff gait, high temperature, increased respiration rate, trembling, convulsions.

How are post natal problems in cats treated?

Obviously, treatment will depend on the cause, it may include:

  • Blood transfusions for postpartum haemorrhage. Your veterinarian may also wish to spay (ovariohysterectomy) the cat to stop further bleeding.
  • Antibiotics to treat mastitis. If abscesses are present, they will need to be lanced and drained.
  • Removal of retained products if your queen has acute metritis. Antibiotics will also be prescribed. Your cat may also need to be spayed.
  • Supplementation of milk to kittens who are not receiving enough milk due to low/no supply from the queen. She may also be given medication to assist with milk production.
  • Slow intravenous administration of calcium gluconate in the case of eclampsia.

Supportive care such as rest, IV fluids may also be required while your queen recovers.

Also see:

Estrus in cats   Cat giving birth   Pregnancy in cats   Dystocia in cats