Dystocia: Preventing Birth-Related Emergencies in Cats

This summer, we’ve had an increased number of animals experiencing birth-related emergencies brought to our doors. Pregnant animals experiencing difficult or abnormal labor that causes a delay in birth is called Dystocia.

Dystocia is serious and should be treated as an emergency. Symptoms include prolonged straining during the birth process that does not result in birth, excessive restlessness, and vocalization. Blockages in the birth canal during labor can quickly become life-threatening for both mom and babies.

Penelope was rushed to Dakin when her people had nowhere else to turn. She had been in labor for over 36 hours, only producing one kitten. The veterinary staff assessed her and found that she had four kittens that were not descending. Dr. Rebecca Carroll and a team of veterinary technicians and animal care staff jumped into action. Dr. Carroll performed an emergency cesarean section and staff immediately began working to stabilize the infants. All four kittens remained under the diligent care of staff until they were stable and ready to be returned to their mom cat and very relieved owners.

Barely one day before Penelope’s arrival, the veterinary teams from the adoption center and Community Spay/Neuter Clinic were working hurriedly together to perform an emergency c-section on Sabrina, another cat in similar trouble. Sabrina had been an unowned cat living in the community. Her finder knew she had had kittens before and brought her to Dakin to stop the cycle of kittens being born outside. Sabrina was moved into foster care and soon went into labor. It became obvious that she was suffering from Dystocia and needed help right away.

Before long, Dr. Elizabeth Helton freed three kittens into the waiting hands of skilled veterinary technicians who got the kittens awake and breathing, delivered oxygen, and other critical care.

The most successful way to prevent dystocia and other birth-related complications in domestic animals is spay/neuter surgery. We see and understand the barriers to these services that many face including cost, very long wait times for appointments, and access to transportation. We’re continuing our work to create innovative ways to connect people and pets with important resources to the best of our ability. Learn more about Dakin’s Community Spay/Neuter Clinic.

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