How to Tell if Your Cat Still Has Kittens Inside? – 3 Ways

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

how to tellif your cat still has kittens inside

It’s good news that your cat is pregnant and about to give birth. We all hope for a successful delivery. Sometimes, however, things don’t work out as expected.

One of the most tragic problems that might happen during cats’ laboring process is dead kittens inside their womb. It’s truly sad. But as an owner, you need to help the cat mother get over this.

In this article, we’ll show you how to tell if your cat still has kittens inside. This examination needs the best attention and care, so make sure that you keep your eyes on her all the time and take her to the clinic immediately if you’ve seen any abnormal signs.

Ways to Tell if Your Cat Still Has Kittens Inside


The longer the dead kittens stay in their mother’s belly, the more possibility that they’ll rot and cause many health problems, even fatality. Thus, it’s crucial that you find out about the stillborn cats as soon as possible.

If you’re questioning “Why my cad had kittens but still looks pregnant, ” some basic ways you might apply at home are listed below. But before that, there are two things to keep in mind:

  • Calm her down first

Don’t make it too harsh and give your queen extra time to rest. In some cases, cats might require medical treatment during the laboring to relax (contact the vet for advice and a usage guide).

Additionally, consider separating the kittens from her for a while to prevent any extra stress or unexpected damage.

  • Give your cat a clean, safe, and quiet environment to stay

It’s not only good for the mother’s health but also essential for her babies.

Now, it’s time to dive into the main examination!

1. Check out the cat’s belly with your hand


Gently move your hand around her belly to feel and identify whether there is a lump or not (if you’re vague about what a stillborn kitten looks like, it’s almost other newborn kittens’ size).

Please remember that this abdomen is a sensitive part of a cat (especially to the ones that are giving birth) so you need to make it softly and slowly so as not to startle the mother.

The process will take a while so it’s best to stay calm all the time. Plus, you might not pinpoint the lump spot at the first touch. Try again later until you find it or end up with a conclusion that there’s none of it at all.

2. Notice her behaviors and symptoms

Carrying a dead kitten inside her body will cause many changes in her health, emotion, and development. That’s why you need to pay careful attention to her behaviors every day to come up with a proper diagnosis.

The potential symptoms will arise in her daily activities and diet, in the way she cares for her babies, and so on. (The detailed signs will be listed in the next part)

3. Take an extra examination on their eyes


Taking the cat mother’s vision into consideration is an extra way to know why your cat had one kitten and stopped.

The fact is that cats’ eyes tell a lot about their health and emotions. Any changes in this part will hint at what’s happening to their well-being.

Normally, cats’ eyes are in a slit shape; but the size and shape can switch due to the impacts of light and their emotions. Particularly, they will become wider in darkness and shrink in daylight.

To carry on this simple experiment, use a safe light source and shine it directly into their eyes. Watch closely and notice whether there are any unusual signs of pupils’ dilation and constriction.

For instance, if the light can’t constrict their eyes, they might suffer from an illness or a problem during this queening. Call the vet right away and inform them about her situation.

Signs/symptoms of a Dead Kitten Inside Cat


  • Long-lasting straining

During labor (usually in the last two stages), the cat mother will gather all her strength and energy to push her babies out. Each straining process would last for 25 minutes maximum, including the time she licks her kittens to keep them clean.

In case it takes longer but the cat has only one kitten coming out, there’s a likelihood that dead kittens are inside the womb. Hesitate not and dial the vet immediately.

  • Heavy bleeding and discharge

The increase in discharge and blood when a cat’s giving birth might be a critical sign of stillborn kittens. Notice this anomaly and ask for advice from the vet.

  • Repeatedly Licking

The baby kittens are covered in a thin membrane sac when being delivered, and the cat mother will get rid of this part by licking. Is she still licking her genitalia for a longer time? Then you might doubt the existence of stillborn babies.

  • Lack of care for the newborn liter

When the mother appears to focus on something inside her body rather than the newborn kittens, it might be a noticeable sign.

  • Heavy breathing (Panting)

The mother cat is done having kittens yet still suffering a prolonged panting. You know what to do next!

  • Vomiting and lost appetite

The delivery process will make her lose interest in food but she’ll soonly back to normal after a while to ensure enough nutrients for the babies. If you’ve realized that anorexia lasts long, accompanied by vomiting, she’s showing another symptom of a dead kitten inside the cat.

  • Changes in noises and vocalization

Vocalization during queening is common. But if it lasts long after the last kitten comes out, there are two possibilities: she’s super distressed or the babies are stuck. Contact your vet for further assistance.

What Causes and How to Solve This Problem?


There are several potential causes of dead kittens stuck inside a cat:

  • The most possible one is congenital malformation.

This unexpected status is often a result of an anomaly in the kitten’s DNA or the cat mother’s health condition and consumption (for example, stress, deficiency in nutrients, or the effect of drugs and toxic chemicals).

  • Another common cause of stillbirth babies is infectious disease caused by viruses and bacteria.

While there are several identified types of viral infections such as feline panleukopenia virus, panleukopenia virus (also called distemper in cats), or feline herpesvirus, the bacteria infection is hard to tell.

If you’re questioning whether there’s any chance of preventing stillborn babies, here are some solutions. Remember that they’re not 100% successful, but better do something than nothing. We always hope for the best health for both the mother and babies.

1. Vaccination: Don’t miss out on any critical vaccination to help save her from infections and any other diseases.

2. Deworming: It’s critical that your cat is wormed during her pregnancy to prevent any worm’s development. Contact your vet for suggestions about safe products and a specific schedule.

3. Health care check: Regular check-up is perfect for examining the whole situation and giving timely treatment if there’s any problem found.

4. Diet and living environment: These two aspects play an extremely vital role in a pregnant cat’s development. Make sure that you give her proper feeding and care and a warm, safe room to live in the whole time.

Frequently  Asked Questions


How long is a cat in labor?

How to know when a cat is done giving birth? Actually, a full delivery in cats contains three stages, which last from 4 to 42 hours in total.

And the average period (also considered safe) is around 16 hours.

  • In particular, the first stage (mainly for settling her in the queening box and seeing the first contractions) takes 12 hours.
  • The first baby coming out is a mark for stage 2.
  • Each delivery will have an interval of between 25 and 30 minutes, which also contains about 5 to 15 minutes of stage 3 – cleaning the placentas.

How to care for kittens after birth

Postnatal care for newborn babies is important. Try to keep them and their mother in a clean, warm, and quiet place so that they can rest and start feeding. If it’s possible, try to clean the queening box or replace it with another new one.

Pay close attention to each kitten and ask the vet if you see any abnormal symptoms. Plus, prevent them from any other animals in the house, kids, and so on.


It’s truly alarming when your pregnant cat has difficulties during her labor and delivery. We hope this article, how to tell if your cat still has kittens inside, will give you a more precise diagnosis of her situation so that suitable solutions will be timely applied.

More importantly, prevention is better than cure. We might know that stillbirth kittens are not always thoroughly preventable. But at least give your cat the best care and support to increase the ability of a successful delivery (whether it’s her first time or third time).

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