We were hoping that our friends' pregnant cat would have her kittens while we were house sitting so when it started yesterday morning we were pretty excited. I was just about to feed all the animals when Steve said "I think the pregnant cat is having contractions, she's making funny noises". So I put the food down thinking she might like some for strength and wondering how long a cat's labour usually lasts. So she came running and joined the others eating from their single big bowl. Next thing we know she makes a yelping noise and we look over to see half a kitten hanging out of her! We stopped eating our breakfast and watched as she walked around a bit before it plopped out onto the floor. She licked it a couple of times then walked around with another one hanging right out but still in it's amniotic sac. When that one plopped out she promptly ate both the placentas and licked them clean. A few minutes later a third came out but was obviously dead. She licked it a couple of times and then went back to the two live ones so I picked up the dead one and put it outside.
Steve meanwhile was cutting down a box and finding some paper to line it with, I was taking photos and Brendan and Tadhg were still eating their breakfast, although Brendan did come over to look a few times.
The mother seemed to like the box but left the two kittens on the cold floor so I lifted them into the box and we carried them through next to the fire. About 15 minutes later she had a fourth in the box and about 30 minutes after that she carried them one by one up the stairs and hid them under a bed. I was in awe at how matter of fact the whole thing was. I thought next time I'm giving birth I'm going to pretend I'm a cat and get it done with a minimum of fuss (minus the walking around with the baby dangling bit).
We then left them alone for a few hours and when I went up to check that all three were still alive I found not three but four strong, happy little kittens curled up with their purring mother. The thing is, I know a few women who've had birth experiences not unlike that. My last was pretty good but THAT is what I'm hoping for next time.
We feel really privileged to have been able to witness that.