Did Medical School Prepare Me For This?

This is not a cat blog, but. If you’ve been following, you know that we just adopted an adorable little stray cat from a local shelter, and (oops!) she just happens to be pregnant. 

Our vet is lovely, and when she confirmed my suspicions that Little Kitty* should wear a scarlet collar, she reassured me:

“Most cats don’t need any help at all during labor and delivery. I’m sure everything will go fine.”

But she was thoughtful for a moment and added, “Well, some things can happen, but usually, they don’t.”

So now, in all of my spare time, I’ve been reading up on feline gestation, labor, and delivery. (My husband would say I’m sort of obsessed.) Most articles state something like:

The vast majority of cat deliveries can be unassisted and without complication. But here is a list of potential complications:  

  1. A kitten becomes lodged in the birth canal for more than ten minutes 
  2. The mother has contractions for over four hours and is unable to deliver a kitten 
  3. More than five hours elapses and you are sure there is another kitten in the uterus
  4. You counted fewer placentas than kittens

There’s more, and with rather unpalatable description, so I’ll spare you.

Being a huge dork, and increasingly anxious, I have read more than I ever thought I would need to read about kitty labor and delivery. The most thorough and well-organized online article came from the U.K. site International Cat Care (Cat Birth: When to wait and when to worry). I also found the large and colorful coffee-table-book-slash-textbook The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cats (Harper and White, Metro Books, New York, 2008) to be helpful. The latter describes a list of basic equipment to have on hand- just in case.


Now, I am a primary care physician for women. I am not a surgeon. Within the past decade, my only experiences with labor and delivery were my own.

But I did. I purchased an array of instruments and supplies, similar to what is pictured here, and also including microwaveable kitty warming pads, a small animal bottle nursing kit, and kitten milk replacement formula.

I may not know what I’m doing, but I am prepared.

Was that a big waste of a lot of money spent at Drs Foster and Smith? Maybe. I plan to donate everything to a shelter after Little Kitty has her kittens, because she will be spayed as soon as possible!

*The cat was named by our daughter. The name is embarrassing, but, it has stuck.

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