What to expect

What to expect when expecting!

This is the beautiful mum ‘Cali’, who recently gave birth to 4 healthy kittens. Cali was brought into the clinic as her owner was concerned she had not finished giving birth. It was a particularly hot day and Cali had an elevated respiratory rate and was occasionally panting. After a physical examination and thorough abdominal palpitation and monitoring these symptoms were determined to be relatively normal after giving birth on a hot day. Cali was sent home to continue to care for her four new bundles of joy, her owner was advised to keep Cali in a quiet restful place that is a bit cooler, with access to lots of cool water and some food at all times.

What to expect when expecting!

Prior to labour:

  • Mum should start having obvious visible contractions within 12-24 hours after becoming restless - hiding, nesting on-and-off, sometimes trembling, not eating or vomiting.
  • Normally all kittens/puppies should be born in less than 24 hours from when you can see Mum’s belly contracting, but can take 2-72 hours.
  • There should be less than 1-2 hours between delivery of each kitten/puppy. You should seek veterinary intervention if the mum is actively contracting and not producing a baby after 30 minutes.
  • Mum should be alert and content like ‘Cali’, only leaving her box to use the toilet and eat for the first couple of weeks after having kittens.


Some normal, but unexpected signs after giving birth can be:

  • aggression towards other animals/people (can last 1-2 weeks)
  • diarrhoea or reduced appetite, after eating the placenta or rich foods - ensure she has food and water always available
  • slightly elevated temperature (<39.4oC) for 24-48 hours post-birth, due to normal inflammation
  • vaginal discharge that is brick red, does NOT smell and reduces over a few days-weeks (dogs up to 16 weeks)


Written by Sarah Haye, final year Veterinary Student, University of Sydney.

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