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 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. Bacterial infection is the most common cause, which may be due to retained placentas, 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): 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. 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.
What to look out for:
- Loss of appetite
- Neglect of or disinterest in the kittens
- Fading kittens
- Vaginal discharge or bleeding
Treating postnatal problems:
Treatment will depend on the cause, it may include:
- Blood transfusions for postpartum hemorrhage, your veterinarian may also wish to spay (ovariohysterectomy) the cat to stop further bleeding.
- Antibiotics to treat 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.