To intervene or not in your cat’s labour17 June, 2007
Just sharing some thoughts on my experience with Ananda’s latest litter in the hope that this will help some novice breeder out there who may be faced with the same situation.
As mentioned in my earlier post, she had three kittens, but one was born a day late, and was unfortunately dead.
In retrospect, I should have taken the vet’s advice and allowed oxytocin to be administered the evening before. Who knows – that third kitten might have been born living. I’ve done a lot of thinking on why I turned down the recommendation for oxytocin, and I think it’s a hang-up I have about trying to do things the natural way, and the belief that holistic is best.
I’ve since discovered that oxytocin is not the demon drug I thought it was. Oxytocin is a hormone that is already present during labour. Increasing the amount of oxytocin is safe provided it’s monitored by the vet. The form of oxytocin used does not express out in the milk and so does not affect kittens. Some vets and breeders have oxytocin administered as a matter of course in order to make sure the uterus is clear of any residue. Oxytocin should only be administered if the cervix of the cat is open.
Well, it’s knowledge I wish I’d had. But everything’s easy in retrospect. Another issue I have to work on is trust in my vet. Again, it’s that allopathic vs holistic belief in me. I think that it’s obvious that in situations of crises, you want something that will work immediately. And even though I tried homeopathy, I’m not good enough a homeopath to know if a different remedy should have been used. But on the other hand, if I’d opted for oxytocin and the kitten had been born dead, then I’d probably have blamed myself/the vet.
A number of my breeder friends have been very supportive, and have assured me that kitten deaths are, unfortunately, part of the experience of being a breeder. I’ve been lucky so far in that Ananda’s previous litters were large and the kittens were small, so they shelled out like peas at 20-minute intervals. And that’s another thing, the timing of the arrival of the kittens, that should have alerted me that this labour was not going to be easy: each kitten took 50 minutes to be born, and they were double the size of kittens from her previous litter.
So it’s a matter of knowing how your queen kittens, and even better, how her mother kittens, because these things are genetic. Ananda’s mother always gave birth easily.
I guess I got complacent with how easy the previous two labours were. We buried that third kitten with a cat toy, flowers and bird feathers. Well, it’s been a sad lesson learnt – that kitten would have been alive if not for my stupidity. Makes me wonder why I went into breeding in the first place. But then I look at the two living kittens, tickle their fat tum-tums and listen to them suckle while Ananda purrs contentedly and it’s magic.