Managing Queens – Cat Pregnancy Problems

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


Kittens are often 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 Intertia occurs when a pregnant female is unable to birth her babies because her uterine muscles are unable to contract and expel the babies. Primary conditions are rare and can be genetic. This results in no kittens being delivered. This is best handled with C-Section.

Secondary conditions occur 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 that is 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 within 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.

Preventing 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 a longer labor and giving up on the unborn kitten.


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 ¼ cc SQ, along with ½ cc of Long Acting Penicillin when queening is complete. Oxytocin hurries uterine involution, makes mom motherly, and lets milk down to nipple. Oxytocin helps prevent excess discharge by improving uterus involution.


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, become dehydrated and quit milking. See your veterinarian for treatment options. Severe cases may need to be spayed to remove the issue.


Anemic moms wear out in labor quickly, resulting in slow delivery and kitten loss. Giving prenatal vitamins, which have high iron, during gestation will prevent anemia in kittens and mom.


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. 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.


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


Females that have plenty of glands but no milk are lacking the prolactin stimulation to start. 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 are 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, along with needed 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 the gestating queen’s vitamins, diet, queening area and birthing results in more live kittens at weaning.

If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.

-Dr. B
Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health

The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal 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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