How to tell if a cat is in labour & ready to deliver

Whether you breed cats or have an accidentally pregnant feline, you will notice signs of pregnancy long before labour begins. Labour will occur no sooner than 61 days after the female cat becomes pregnant. While you do not always know the exact date the cat became pregnant or know an exact due date, you can use signs and symptoms to determine how soon labour and delivery will occur.

Watch your cat closely for signs of labour as her last days of gestation approach. Use a rectal pet thermometer to monitor your cat's temperature and look for a temperature drop, which occurs no more than 24 hours before the feline goes into labour. A cat's normal temperature of around 38.6 degrees Celsius will drop to around 37.2 degrees before labour, with labour occurring within the next 24 hours.

Monitor your cat for other signs of imminent labour. Other signs include restless wandering as the feline searches for the ideal location to give birth and the production of milk from the cat's eight nipples.

Keep track of the cat for the next 24 hours, because birth typically occurs within 24 hours after these signs present. By keeping track of the cat's location, you can watch for the beginning signs of labour. Within minutes of labour the feline begins persistently licking at her vagina and abdomen in attempt to remove the discharge that precedes birth.

Observe the cat from afar to keep her as calm as possible during labour. As delivery begins she will start to purr in rhythm and her breathing will increase and become heavy. This usually means the first kitten will appear within the next hour.

Watch from a distance and do not panic if the feline lays on its side for a while then restlessly stands and squats at intervals. She may even produce loud yowls as contractions increase.


Keep the cat from delivering on clothing or carpeting by locking her into a certain area whenever she begins to pace about looking for a labour site.

Things You'll Need

  • Rectal pet thermometer
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About the Author

Penny Porter is a full-time professional writer and a contributor to "Kraze" magazine. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree in journalism at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky.