How to Get Kittens to Breathe After Being Born

Sometimes kittens need help taking their first breaths.

Sometimes kittens need help taking their first breaths.

While helping your cat give birth can be a messy process, it could save a life. With all the excitement of birthing half a dozen babies, your cat may not realize if one isn't breathing properly. So scrub up, doctor, because your assistance can make all the difference.

Monitor your cat's behavior after each kitten is born. Each kitten is born in a membrane pouch called the amniotic sac, which the mother typically breaks open after expelling the kitten. If your cat doesn't do it, though, that responsibility is on you, so watch and see what she does.

Break the amniotic sac near the kitten's face by rubbing it with a clean towel. Then, rub the kitten's mouth and nose area with a clean towel to clear away any fluid and get him breathing.

Cut the umbilical cord if the mother doesn't chew through it. While you can pinch the cord between your fingers and tear it, a more cautious method is to tie it off with a piece of fishing line and snip it with scissors on the side closest to the kitten. Never attempt to pull the umbilical cord out of the cat, as this can cause serious internal damage.

Rub the kitten's stomach with a clean towel to kick-start breathing. If this doesn't work, there may be fluid trapped in the throat or nasal passages.

Cup your palms together and cradle the kitten in them with his stomach up and his head out. Gently swing the kitten back and forth, pendulum style. This motion forces any trapped fluids out of the kitten. Wipe his face clear after he expels any fluid.

Return the kitten to his mother.

Items you will need

  • Clean towels
  • Fishing line
  • Sharp scissors
  • Aspirator (optional)

Tip

  • Take your cat to the vet during her pregnancy for regular checkups. While there, consult with your vet about an aspirator, a tool that you may keep on-hand during delivery to help clear away fluid from a newborn's mouth and face. Your vet will instruct you on safe, proper use of the aspirator.
 

About the Author

Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

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