Post Natal Complications in Cats

Postpartum complications in cats

Postnatal 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.  Be alert and watch for symptoms so that problems can be picked up and treated early.

Postpartum hemorrhage:

Some discharge (lochia) is normal for up to two weeks after delivery, which will be watery and blood tinged.

Symptoms: 

  • Excessive bleeding after giving birth
  • Pale gums
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite

Mastitis

Inflammation of one or more mammary glands occurs when the lactating queen’s mammary gland(s) becomes inflamed, blocked or infected.

Symptoms:

  • Heat
  • Swelling
  • Fever
  • Bloody, yellow or thick milk
  • Refusal to let the kittens nurse from the affected gland(s)
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Sick or dying kittens

Acute Metritis

Inflammation of the lining of the uterus (endometrium) postpartum most often due to a bacterial infection from retained placentas, kittens or unsanitary conditions.

Symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Foul smelling, dark discharge from the vagina

Agalactia and dysgalactia

Agalactia is a complete absence of milk and dysgalactia is a decreased milk supply. Both are caused by inadequate nutritional support of the queen,  large litter size, deformed nipple(s) or occasionally cesarean sections.

Encourage nursing to assist with milk production.  Provide access to fresh drinking water at all times and a high-quality diet. 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.

Symptoms: 

  • Restless kittens who cry continually
  • Kittens fail to thrive

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.

  • Restlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Walking with a stiff gait
  • Fever
  • Increased respiration rate
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions

Treatment:

Treatment will depend on the cause, it may include:

  • Blood transfusions for postpartum hemorrhage, the veterinarian may also spay (ovariohysterectomy) the cat to stop further bleeding.
  • Antibiotics to treat bacterial infections associated with acute metritis and mastitis.
  • Draining and lancing of abscesses.
  • Removal of retained products if your queen has acute metritis, a spay may be necessary.
  • Supplementation of milk to kittens who are not receiving enough milk due to low/no supply from the queen. Medications to assist with milk production may be given.
  • Slow intravenous administration of calcium gluconate in the case of eclampsia.
  • Supportive care including rest, intravenous fluids, nutritional support, and antibiotics.

Postpartum Care For Cats – How To Care For The New Queen

Mother cat and her kittens

Most queens (mother cat) require little or no assistance during the delivery and are able to successfully raise a litter without our assistance. However, the prudent carer should be aware that there will be some requirements to help the queen stay healthy and well so she is able to care for her new family.

Immediately after the birth:

Count how many placentas have been delivered, there should be one placenta per kitten.  If you are not sure that they have all been delivered, check with your veterinarian.

Once the kittens have been born, replace soiled bedding.

General Care:

Mother cat and her kittensEnsure the queen is provided with comfortable, warm area to care for her kittens. It should be in a quiet and safe area. The new mother will rarely leave the nest over the next few days.

Within 24 hours of the birth, your queen should see a veterinarian for a check-up. He will be able to feel for any undelivered kittens and make sure everything is healing as it should. A small amount of vaginal discharge is present for 7 – 10  days post queening. The discharge is reddish brown in colour and should not be odorous.

  • Foul smelling discharge
  • Bright red discharge
  • Profuse discharge
  • Discharge lasting longer than three weeks

Feeding during lactation:

Offer the queen a meal once she has delivered her kittens.

A lactating queen will need to consume two to three times the number of calories that she required prior to becoming pregnant. Without these additional calories, she cannot produce enough milk to feed her kittens.  She should be provided as much food as she wants and has constant access to fresh water.

Feed the kittens a high-quality food designed for kittens.

Postpartum complications:

  • Postpartum hemorrhage: 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) postpartum, usually due to a bacterial infection. 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 can be due to inadequate nutritional support of the queen,  large litter size, deformed nipple(s) or occasionally caesarean sections. Encourage kittens to nurse as this assists with milk production. 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 nonpregnant 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 (milk fever, puerperal tetany): This life-threatening condition occurs when the levels are depleted in the lactating queen resulting in hypocalcemia. Signs of eclampsia include restlessness, anorexia, walking with a stiff gait, high temperature, increased respiration rate, trembling, convulsions.

What to look out for:

  • Fever.
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia).
  • Lack of interest in kittens.
  • Vaginal discharge which is odorous lasts longer than three weeks or excessive bleeding. Excessive loss of blood can lead to shock and death.
  • Swelling, heat or discomfort from the breasts.

If you notice any of the above, seek veterinary help immediately.

Pregnancy:

A female cat can come into heat soon after the birth, keep her inside and away from entire male cats to prevent pregnancy.

Acute Metritis in Cats-Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Acute metritis in cats

Acute metritis in catsAbout

Acute metritis is an inflammation of the lining of the uterus after a queen has given birth, which causes systemic illness. The most common cause is a bacterial infection, due to retained placentas or kittens, contamination of the birth canal during delivery (unsterile fingers or instruments), prolonged labour or unsanitary conditions during delivery. Left untreated, septicemia (bacterial infection of the blood) or toxemia can occur.

It is always prudent to have your veterinarian perform a complete physical check of your cat within a day or so of her giving birth to check for possible problems and a good idea to watch for fever in the queen after delivery.

Symptoms

Symptoms usually occur between 12 – 96 hours following birth. Acute metritis is a life-threatening medical condition and veterinary attention must be sought if you notice any of the following symptoms:

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your cat and obtain a medical history. The fact that she has very recently given birth would certainly raise his suspicions of acute metritis.

Diagnostic workup:

  • Complete blood count which will show an elevated level of white blood cells.
  • X-ray to check for retained fetuses or placentas.
  • Ultrasound to check for retained placentas or fetuses.
  • Cytologic examination of the discharge and bacterial culture and sensitivity so that the appropriate antibiotic can be administered.

Treatment

  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics to treat the underlying infection.
  • IV fluids to treat dehydration.
  • If necessary, evacuate the uterus of retained placenta, unborn kitten
  • Performing an ovariohysterectomy may be necessary.