Your pregnant cat can't tell you when she's in labor, but Mother Nature has provided certain signs of the imminent arrival of her kittens. One such clue is a clear or pinkish discharge, which indicates that her body is preparing to kick the kittens out of their nice warm womb.
All About Cat Labor
Cat labor is very similar to human labor, except cats generally don't grumble obscenities at their husbands as they experience contractions. Cats move through three different stages of labor, essentially separated into pre-birth, birth and after-birth.
Stage one starts when your cat's body prepares for delivery by dilating the cervix. Your cat moves to stage two when contractions begin and she actually delivers the kitten. Stage three occurs when your mama cat delivers the kitten's placenta and begins cleaning her newly born baby. She'll move back to stage two when she feels her next kitten ready to come, and continue switching between stages two and three until all her babies are born and the placentas are passed.
Common Signs of Labor
As your cat's due date draws near, your little queen begins preparing for impending delivery. She'll seem restless and may pull clothes and toys into her birthing area to make it more comfortable and cozy. She may refuse to eat and start pacing. As her cervix dilates, her mucous plug may release, resulting in a clear, cloudy or pinkish discharge. Some cats like to be near their people when in stage one, so she may seem extra clingy and vocal during this period.
Labor and delivery signs are not written in stone, and some cats may exhibit every textbook symptom while others show few or none. This can make it difficult to know when there's something wrong. Generally speaking, a vaginal discharge isn't concerning unless it's bright red, contains tissue and flows regularly for more than 10 minutes. Some vocalization is normal during labor, but if your queen seems excessively noisy, watch for signs of pain or hard straining. Long periods of hard pushing and straining with no kitten in sight could indicate a problem and require intervention.
What To Do
In the unforgettable words of Douglas Adams, "Don't panic." No two cats deliver in exactly the same way, and your queen's kittens may simply be taking their time leaving their nice warm womb. A pink discharge is normal as her body counts down to kitten time, and it could take minutes or even hours to deliver each kitten. Unless your cat is in excessive pain or obviously having great difficulty, you shouldn't need to intervene. Talk with your vet to discuss the what ifs and your role in your kitty's care during this exciting time, and have your vet's phone number on hand in case you have any questions or problems.
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images