Lawdy Miz Scarlett, I don't know nuthin 'bout birthin' babies! - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 11:03 AM Thread Starter
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Lawdy Miz Scarlett, I don't know nuthin 'bout birthin' babies!

So we found an adorable little blue point Siamese mix at the local SPCA. My husband fell head over heels for her, which is understandable as she's impossibly cute. I would have preferred one of the fostered cats from Street Cats, but she was too sweet to resist, purring all over us.

That was Wednesday afternoon. We were told we got a free vet check within the week, as she'd just had a broken fang removed. We were also told that she wasn't spayed yet, but we could do it anytime and they'd pay for it. It was a little surprising that it hadn't already been done, but we figured they didn't want to pile on too much surgery at once.

This morning she was coughing, so we called the clinic that did the dental surgery and asked if we could bring her in early for her check-back. The vet assured us it was just a bit of trachea irritation from the surgery. Then she looked at her tummy, frowned, and said "I wonder if she's pregnant". They took her into the back room, shaved her, did ultrasound, and sure enough, there are fairly large kittens moving around in there. The vet figures she'll give birth within the next two weeks.

So, we're about to have an experience neither of us has ever had before. I've got to contact the SPCA as soon as they open to ask if they'll take responsibility for the kittens when they reach 8 weeks, but in the meantime, I'd appreciate any advice you experienced people can give me!
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 04:55 PM
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Congratulations on your recent addition; she sounds like a real sweetheart! I'm excited for you and your husband and hope we can help make your kitty's pregnancy a little less stressful for her and for you.

I'm kind of surprised that your local SPCA doesn't spay/abort, but I suppose, if their policy is to not fix cats until they're adopted anyway, it wouldn't matter whether they had a policy in place to deal with unwanted pregnancies or not.

Some cats start to seem restless when they're nearing the end of their pregnancy. Not all cats exhibit all of the signs or behaviours of pregnancy, but if she seems to be panting and/or pacing a lot she's probably within a couple days of giving birth--she may be looking for a warm, dark, quiet place to make a "nest" where she will have her babies. I typically recommend that people help out by creating a couple of areas that might appeal to a cat that's nesting because it will help you to keep an eye on your kitty if you know where she is and will allow you to better control where she decides to nest, provided she's happy with your chosen location(s). Some cats find less than ideal places to nest in--closets are a favourite spot, but the closet in the spare room is probably much preferable to a closet in, say, a young child's bedroom. Some cats also seem to completely vanish because they've chosen an obscure or hard to access location for their nest, which makes it hard to monitor mommy and kittens and makes for a stressful experience for the cat owner. It would be ideal if you were able to provide a "safe room" in which you can isolate your kitty and provide a suitable nest away from things that might stress kitty out--keep in mind that, if you plan to rehome or surrender the kittens at 8 weeks, mommy and kittens will likely occupy this room for most of the time they're living with you. Young kittens can get into a lot of trouble once they become more mobile (around 4 - 5 weeks), so they should never be outside of their kitten-proofed safe room unless you are there monitoring their every move. Once the kittens are older, and escaping the safe room becomes a possibility should the door be left open, a baby gate in the doorway that mommy can jump over but the kittens can't scale is a really good way to protect the kittens from getting out of the room and into trouble, while allowing mommy cat to come and go from the room as she pleases (provided that you don't have other animals or young children that could potentially access the room as a result). A safe room with a closed door (or a gate once the kittens are a bit older and mommy is a little less protective of them) will reduce mommy's stress and will prevent her from moving the kittens to other locations within the house herself--which some mothers will do if they become stressed or feel that the nest has been disturbed or is unsafe. It's important to keep young children and pets away from the safe room, again, because it's really important to prevent mommy from becoming stressed.

There are a lot of things I could and maybe should mention about kittens, (such as the fact that, for the first couple of weeks, mommy will need to feed her kittens approximately every 2 hours, round the clock--and what to do if she doesn't), but there are entire books devoted to raising kittens, and I don't want to overwhelm you with a deluge of information that may or may not be applicable to your cat and her kittens. If you have any specific questions though, I or someone else on the forum will, I'm sure, be happy to answer them.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Normally the local SPCA does spay before sending them out the door. I'm not sure why they didn't in her case. I suppose it was because they were full of kittens and just wanted her out the door fast, but they had three weeks to do it. Or two, maybe, I think they had to hold her for 10 days in case her original owner showed up. I'm also baffled as to why they didn't know she was pregnant. Surely they must have lots of experience with pregnant cats. Could it be because she's so small? She looks more like 6 months than 2 years.

When we 'phoned to tell them they pressed us to take her for a prenatal spay on Monday, saying that the dental anaesthetic might have killed the kittens anyway. At least one of them was definitely moving - a lot - in the ultrasound, though. Both the vet who did her tooth extraction and the one we saw this morning think the kittens will be fine and that she's too far along for spaying - one thinks she could give birth next week. Both said that if it were their cat they'd just let her go through with it. So now we don't know what to do.

I get the SPCA position, that there are too many kittens for homes, but I'm worried about the greater blood loss and larger incision of a prenatal spay, especially this close to term.

Last edited by Nuliajuk; 01-23-2015 at 07:11 PM.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 07:23 PM
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When we took in Momo, she was just under six months old...and SEVEN weeks pregnant. She was also quite small for her age. My husband and I discussed it and we both decided that we would have spayed. We were both afraid that if she went into labor, with her size, her having kittens would kill her, her kittens, or both her AND her kittens. After we took her in, I asked the vet a) if I did the right thing (I felt horrible for basically deciding that her babies should die to possibly save her life and b) how many kittens was she carrying. The vet confirmed that she was seven weeks and my decision to have her spayed and the kittens aborted. He told me that she had SIX kittens in her and they were big. If she had gone into labor, it would have ended badly.

I say all this to say that if I were you, I'd get a second opinion on whether spaying her this close to term is a risk. I know I did the right thing for Momo, but I often wonder if I had taken her to another vet, would he/she have said the same thing? Momo did have a lot going against her (forgot to mention that she had worms on top of being pregnant so young)...but still.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, that gives me something to think about. This one is full grown but very small. Pregnant she's a little over 8 pounds. I'd guess her normal weight is about 6 pounds. Being unspayed at this age, I'm also assuming she must have had kittens before at some point.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-24-2015, 08:51 PM Thread Starter
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I think we'll go through with the spay. I've been researching cat pregnancy online and come to the conclusion that she's at about week 6, not nearly as close to delivery as the first vet thought she was.
She certainly isn't too pregnant to get into trouble. Tonight I had to wrestle the dryer away from the wall because she'd dropped down beside it and then not been able to climb out again - the little toad.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-28-2015, 05:25 PM
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It doesn't feel nice to have to make the decision to spay/abort, but sometimes it's the right decision. A lot of private vets won't do the surgery on a cat that is within the last few weeks of pregnancy--they don't really like doing it either, and it is a riskier surgery, and should therefore be done by a vet with experience in performing late-term spay/abortions--but, shelter vets will routinely spay/abort right up until the cat gives birth.

I do TNR in Toronto, which gives me a fairly realistic perspective on the issue of spay/abort because I see the magnitude of the problem. When you have colonies of 10, 20, 30 cats, and it's kitten season, and nearly all of the female cats are coming in to the clinic pregnant, what else can you really do? Even a small colony of unfixed cats can very quickly overrun a neighbourhood, and there aren't resources or homes for all of the cats currently in shelters, never mind adding to those numbers. Given the choice between the life of a cat that's already born, and the life of a fetal kitten (and it's not a nice choice to have to make, no matter how you rationalize it), I would chose the adult cat every time--and, that's really what it comes down to because adult cats lose out to kittens 9 times out of 10 when it comes to shelter adoptions, and in most shelters, being passed over is a death sentence. If it's any solace, the anesthetic used to put mommy under for the surgery usually does cause the death of the fetuses, so it's not an uncompassionate death.

The only time I would not chose to abort is in the event that doing so would put the mother at risk for complications--hemorrhage is much more of a concern with late-term spay, so I would be leery of doing that sort of operation on a cat with health issues, such as anemia.

If you have trouble finding a vet willing and/or able to perform the spay/abort surgery, I would suggest contacting vets that have experience with feral cats--most TNR groups and cat rescues involved in TNR will be able to give you a list of the vet clinics they work with that may be able to perform a late-term spay or even arrange the surgery for you through a vet, shelter, or feral spay/neuter clinic.

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Ramona & Choco-cat (and foster kitty, Poe).



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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-29-2015, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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She's already been done, as of last Monday. We did a bit of poking around on the internet and came to the conclusion that she wasn't quite as far along as the first vet estimated, perhaps 5 or 6 weeks instead of 7 to 9.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-30-2015, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Nuliajuk View Post
Okay, that gives me something to think about. This one is full grown but very small. Pregnant she's a little over 8 pounds. I'd guess her normal weight is about 6 pounds. Being unspayed at this age, I'm also assuming she must have had kittens before at some point.
We had a 6 pound cat at the shelter that had 6 healthy kittens and took in 3 others as her own!!!

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-30-2015, 09:18 AM
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I trapped a stray. Who my vet estimated as 9 months tops as her age. 2 days later she dropped 7 kittens. All of them survived to be adopted out, with out having to resort to bottle feeding.



It's a hard choice to make. This girl was just to far and I wouldn't have done it to her. As they would have had to put each kitten down as they removed them. I have abort/spayed before though. But only at early stages.


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Last edited by BotanyBlack; 01-30-2015 at 09:21 AM.
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