You will usually see a mucus discharge from the vaginal opening, which indicates that birth is imminent. You should be on hand to comfort her but do not be too hasty about stepping in to help.
You may do more harm than good. The queen should deliver the first kitten within 15 minutes of her first beginning to crouch, strain and cry, and she will purr throughout the entire delivery.
The remaining kittens will be delivered at intervals of between 5 and 30 minutes. If the kitten is delivered head first, the queen should need no help. If it is delivered hind feet first or breech birth and it does not arrive for five minutes or so, you will need to assist.
Make sure your hands are clean, wrap a soft towel around the kitten's body and gently manipulate him, trying to coordinate with the mother's contractions, if possible. Do not pull on the tail or the legs or they may come off in your hands.
Do not squeeze the abdomen either. If labor continues and no kittens appear for more than an hour, or if a kitten or two have been born and labor goes on for another hour or so without another kitten appearing, then you should call the veterinarian.
He will instruct you as to the best course of action; this might involve taking your queen into his office so that he can assist. If you allow labor to go on too long without kittens appearing, you risk not only having the kittens die but also possibly losing your queen.
When preparing for a home birth, make sure that you have the following items on hand:
- hand towels
- kitchen towels
- sterilized scissors
- heating pad or hot water bottle
- clean bedding
- garbage bags
The queen delivers her first kitten within about 15 minutes of the onset of labor. Depending on the number of kittens, labor will last for up to two or three hours. Soon after being born, the kittens will shakily make their way around their mother's nipples and start feeding.
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