Managing Queens - Problems to Watch For

Queens have few issues to deal with but when an issue arises, it only results in kitten loss if you don’t have a solution.

Umbilical cords:

Often kittens are born two or three together. Some have twisted placentas or umbilical cords wrapped around each other. Umbilical cords wrapped around the leg can amputate a foot if not taken care of immediately. When seen, clamp and cut the umbilical cords freeing the baby from litter mates. It is best to clamp with an umbilical clamp and use a suture scissors which allows safe cutting. Your job is to free the kitten from litter mates and get them breathing room air quickly. Remember that 50% of losses are at birth.

Uterine inertia:

Primary is rare and can be genetic. This results in no kittens being delivered. This is best handled with C-Section.

Secondary occurs when part of the litter is delivered and the labor is ineffective. This is a more common occurrence. Uterine inertia is often seen in older, overweight moms but can happen to any mom low on calcium. Treatment for ineffective contractions is to give 2 mL of Calcium Gel orally and repeat in 15 minutes. If no kittens are delivered in 20 minutes give 4 U of Oxytocin SQ with repeat dose of both Calcium Gel and Oxytocin in 30 minutes. After 3 treatments and no results we go to a C-Section.

Prevention of inertia is accomplished by giving Calcium Gel when starting labor and again when you feel labor is slowing. Heavy milking moms are prone to this issue and will benefit from the calcium supplement. Calcium is the lube between the uterine muscle that allows contractions and labor. Milking will increase calcium demand at the same time labor does making queens prone to deficiency. When calcium is low, ineffective contractions can result in longer labor and giving up on the unborn kitten.

Post Partum Discharge:

After birth small amounts of red to black vaginal discharge is normal and can be present for 3 weeks. One of the treatments is to give Oxytocin at 0.25 cc SQ along with ½ cc of Long Acting Penicillin when queening is complete. Oxytocin hurries uterine involution, makes mom motherly and let’s milk down to nipple. Oxytocin helps prevent excess discharge by improving uterus involution.

Mucopurulent vaginal discharge:

This discharge is not normal and anytime the discharge smells you have a uterine infection that needs to be treated. If left untreated the queen will run a fever, be dehydrated and quit milking. See your Veterinarian for treatment options. Severe cases may need to be spayed to remove the issue.

Anemic Moms:

Anemic moms wear out in labor quickly resulting in slow delivery and kitten loss. Prenatal vitamins which have high Iron used during gestation will prevent anemia in kittens and mom.

Retained Placenta:

Queens often pass several days post birth or get pregnant with material still in uterus and deliver normally. We do not do heroics to remove the retained placenta as it does not affect fertility. Retained placenta is not a cause of queen getting ill and monitoring discharge for normalcy is the key to managing. If discharge is normal and mom is healthy – don’t lose sleep over a retained placenta.

Milking volume: Queens produce 1 mL of milk per kitten per hour at birth increasing to 7 mL per kitten per hour during their second week. Managing queens to bring mom into milk quickly avoids nutritional loss in kittens.

Lots of gland no milk:

Treat mom with Reglan - Give 2 mg every 6 hours. Mom should come into milk by 3rd treatment. Reglan comes in an injectable or oral product and releases Prolactin hormone to start milking process. This treatment is great for C-Section moms.

Herbs: Fenugreek (100 mg/sid) and Chaste tree fruit both bring moms into milk and is used in all mammals including humans. These herbs work well at bringing queens into milk quickly. Breeders’ Edge® Oxy-Momma prenatal vitamins have both herbs with prenatal vitamins. On problem females with previous milking issues we start Oxy-Momma seven days before expected queening date. Don’t start earlier than seven days or we may drip milk and risk mastitis before birth.

Queens have few issues to deal with but when an issue arises it can lead to kitten loss if not handled properly. Managing gestating queen’s vitamins and diet as well as queening area and birthing results in more live kittens at weaning.

- Dr. B

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.

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