The Birth of Abayomi Kittens...

WARNING - This is a photo essay of the birth of Shiraz and Nialah's kittens. Please be advised that the following photos contain graphic images that may not be suitable for all viewers.

Please do not proceed if you think you may find them at all disturbing.

"Newborn kitten weighing 3.4 oz"

I was asked to take the following photographs of the labor and delivery for a "Birthing Article" that has since been published online at a cat breeders site. After seeing them, I was not only impressed with the quality of the photographs but was thoroughly amazed that I was able to capture such strikingly beautiful photos of the first moments of life! I just marvel at the miracle of life, how precious it is, how fragile it is and how in one moment, with that very first breath, it all comes to be... I am always taken away!

I am present for each and every kitten's birth to help assist mom in the delivery if need be. The newborns precious little lives occasionally need some extra help coming into the world and/or with clearing out the mucus/fluid from their airways so they are able to take their first breath! Although most often this means not being able to leave our home and staying up for days on end waiting and waiting for that time to come! These are my babies and if any complications should arise with either mom or kittens, I will be there to help. I always catch up on lost sleep once all the kittens are born and nursing comfortably on mom!

To date we have had one emergancy after hours c-section, one almost emergancy after hours c-section where we were to meet the vet at the hospital and she finally had it while walking out the door after 4 hours of pushing... and one where our vet had to come to our home and help reposition the kitten so it was able to come out. I have had to reposition many kittens by inserting a finger into the vagina and with the other hand manipulate the kitten from the outside against the moms tummy.

Documenting a little life changing right before our eyes... I decided to share for those who may enjoy seeing such rarely captured moments.


The birth of Shiraz's kittens...

Shiraz is purring away waiting for labor to begin. Like all of our Aby girls, she wants me by her side for the entire process and won't let me leave the room!

Here Shiraz comfortably gazes at her tummy as she feels movement from the kittens. Her first contractions are starting as the first stages of labor begins... although it still may be an hour or two before her first kitten arrives.

As she transitions from the first stage of labor to the second, the contractions that move the kitten through the birth canal start getting closer together and much, much stronger. Once she starts pushing, on average, it usually takes about 20 minutes for her to deliver a kitten if no complications arise.

In this photo you can see she is having VERY strong contractions as she begins to push her new baby into this world. She purrs very loudly between each pause in her contractions making sure I am always by her side.

This incredible photo shows such facial detail as the kitten is crowning (just before it pops out) while still in the amniotic sac. It's quite amazing to capture such a photograph as you can clearly see all it's facial features!

Sometimes the strong contractions help to break the amniotic sac, which you can see happened in this photograph. Depending on the situation, sometimes mom will break the sac herself between contractions or I may assist her if it looks like she is having a hard time pushing the kitten out. Occasionally the kittens are delivered within the sac and are cleaned off quickly after delivery.

There is usually a pause while waiting for the next set of contractions to push the kitten fully out.

One last push and the kitten is OUT! Here is a very proud Shiraz as she examines and cleans her precious newborn kitten.

I clamp and cut the umbilical cords myself and dip them in iodine right away to minimize any risk of a streptococcal (or bacterial) infection. Kittens can die very quickly from Septicemia when high levels of pathogenic bacteria enter the umbilical cord, sometimes caused by mom's chewing their kittens cords. I also weigh and record each kitten's weight as soon as they are born and then place them back with mom.

If a kitten is born with lots of mucus/fluid and having problems breathing, I help clean it's airways with a bulb style syringe and wipe it's nose and mouth with a very soft cloth. Sometime I need to cup the newborn between my hands and use a "swinging motion" which uses gravity to help expel the fluids.

These are very proud moments as Shiraz bonds with her precious new baby and licks it dry.

Usually within a couple of hours of delivering the last kitten... labor begins once again.

Contractions are getting much stronger as the delivery of her next kitten approaches...

Finally after about 20 minutes of pushing... her kitten arrives safely!

Once again she proudly licks her second newborn clean.

A job well done as she pretties herself up!

Shiraz's Abyssinian kittens at 7 days old... eyes just starting to open!



The birth of Nialah's kittens...

Nialah is very calm as she patiently waits to deliver her kittens.

She rests while keeping a watchful eye making sure I stay with her the entire time. If I leave the room she will pace and cry until I return by her side.

Here you can see she is panting while the intensity of her contractions increase!

Within the amniotic sac you can see the kittens tail as it starts to protrude out... Clearly this is going to be a breech delivery.

Nialah broke the amniotic sac herself and with more contractions she pushes the baby's foot out. How incredible it is to see such tiny formed nails on the paw of this newborn kitten!

Nialah waits for her next big contraction to finally push the kitten into the world!

Here you can see she is cleaning off the kitten as the sac still covers part of its head. Our Aby's are very happy when they have kittens.

Here Nialah is taking a well deserved break while she builds her strength as she awaits her next set of contractions. Normally it takes approximately 2 hours between each kitten. So it can take hours and hours to deliver a larger litter... which can be very tiring when I have been up waiting for days for them to arrive. Although it is all worth the wait when you finally get to see such tiny precious souls!

Looks like things are starting to move forward...

...once again Shiraz is showing signs that another kitten is on its way!

Sure enough within an hour the next kitten is moving along rather quickly! This is one of my favorite photos! Such tiny little feet and you can see its black pads and tiny little toe nails still within the amniotic sac as it tries to push its way out! Such an IMPRESSIVE photograph!

The tiny nails from the kitten rupture the amniotic sac... this is another breech delivery! If she is having difficulty pushing this kitten out, she allows me to assist her by gently tugging on its feet as the next contraction arrives.

Viola!... The third kitten is born. The umbilical cord is still attached to the placenta which mom either delivers with the kitten or some time after the kitten is born. Mom's eat the placenta when it is delivered so it's important that each one is counted to make sure none have been retained, otherwise they will cause an infection.

Here Nialah helps to stimulate the breathing and circulation of her kittens as she licks them dry.

Soon after birth she coaxes her kittens to start nursing and cuddles with them to keep them warm. Nialah is such an amazing mom and absolutely loves raising her kittens. She is always by their side taking very good care of them.

In this photo Nialah is purring away... you can see her paws are kneading back and forth... she is SO HAPPY with her two new babies!

She embraces her baby as it wiggles up towards her...

...then she gives it lots of Mommy kisses!

Such a happy family!!

A couple of hours after the last kitten, her contractions start once again...

...soon the amniotic sac appears...

...and within 20 minutes another kitten is born still within the amniotic sac. I help to clean the kitten off and make sure it is breathing just fine... then off to the gram scale, record the weight and quickly back with Nialah.

Nialah is examining her new baby as she cleans it.

She always makes sure to keep them close so that her body temperature keeps them toasty warm.

Time to all cuddle together as she coaxes them to nurse.

Sometimes it takes a little while for the kittens to get the hang of nursing and latch on... but it isn't long before they are all enjoying the colostrum. Nialah's milk will come in within a couple of days.

What a happy face as Nialah relaxes after a long and exhausting delivery!

Kittens enjoy filling their little tummies for the very first time!

With a happy family... It's time I get some SLEEP!!!

How can I not enjoy seeing such precious little faces!

A job well done Nialah!



The birth of Burleah's kittens...


I was awake 6 nights patiently waiting for Burr's kittens to arrive. She was comfortable one minute and restless the next. Always wanting me close by her side, it's hard to get anything done in the day as I have to stay very close to home. Anything could happen if I wasn't there, and I just can't take that chance!

Aby's love attention and especially during labor. Here Burleah is comforted by the touch of my hand as labor begins.

She reaches for my hand as I pull it away, only wanting more.

Soon Burleah's contractions start...

...and after 20 minutes of pushing we start to see the first kittens face appear.

AMAZING that you can see the detail of the face as the kitten is crowning.

Burleah turns to break the sac, which relieves the pressure...

...and out pops her first kitten!

Burleah welcomes her first born into the world and starts to lick and clean her right away. I quickly wisk her away to cut and iodine the umbilical cord so to prevent any infection and then quickly get a weight on the postal gram scale and place her back against the warmth of Burr's body. The iodine also helps dry up the umbilical cord very quickly.

It is not unusual for kittens to get "Septicemia" (an infection) especially if the mom chews the cord as they have lots of bacteria in their mouth. Kittens can be dead within hours if this happens. I take all precautions whenever I can and thankfully we have very, very rarely lost a kitten after birth.

Here the kitten is already looking for mom's milk.Sometimes they latch on right away and at other times it takes some time to figure it out.

Normally there is about 2 hours between kittens, but this time the next kitten was already pushing out into the world.

The first kitten was born face first although this kitten was born feet first. We see about half and half and rarely have a problem with delivery either way.

Look at those tiny claws that are fully formed on its paws already.

Out pops the body as Burleah waits for the next contraction before she pushes out it's head. Occationally if she is tired and having some difficulty getting the kitten out I will gently tug on the legs during the next contaction to help her out.

Sometimes I place the kittens on a kitten warming pad to help keep them warm. I usually do this while their mom is having strong contractions when trying to push the next kitten out. It keeps the kittens safe as occationally mom's can bite and puncture their babies if they feel pain during delivery and decide to lash out. The kittens always love the warmth of the pad!

...and so does Burleah as she gets her own warming pad between the birth of her kittens. It helps her relax and feel confortable as she gains strength before the next contractions start.

Burleah is a wonderful mom and always finds the birth of her kittens fairly easy. Some mom's take it much harder than others.

Within a few hours Burleah's contractions have started once again all while she keeps a close watch on her newborns to make sure they are safe.

Within about half an hour out pops the head....

With the next contraction, which sometimes takes 45 seconds, out comes the rest of the body.

She continues to clean the kitten while stimulating its blood flow and breathing. Fairly often when kittens are born I have to "swing" a kitten by placing it between the palms on my hands, holding it above my head and quickly swinging it down head first (while completely supporting its head) which uses gravity to expel any fluids that are making it difficult for the kitten to breath.

What precious little souls!! Entering into this world for the very first time!

Burleah is a very proud mom and rests while she awaits the birth of her last kitten. Her kittens have already started nursing.

The kittens are born very resilant and use their paws to fight for the best teats. They can be fairly rough with each other so with bigger litters I sometimes have to suppliment to make sure they are all getting enough.

One comes up for a short break.

It's such a beautiful sight to watch kittens nurse and knead their tiny paws.

Burleah always keeps a close eye on them.

This little one is enjoying Burleahs colostrum which is full of antibodies that is so important to its health. After about the second day (give or take) her milk will start to come in.

Here we go again... the first signs of contrations are starting once again...

...Burleah is starting to feel uncomforable as the contractions get stronger.

Within about 40 minutes... she is somewhat tired... she starts to push out the fourth kittens head.

Once again, amazing to see the details and expression on the kittens face as it crowns.

After a few more hard contractions the last baby is born!!

Here you can see Burleah's foot has gotten some iodine on it which will fade in time. She is all done and just making sure all her precious new babies are all cleaned up and nursing well on their own...

I always give our moms their favourite canned food once they are all done... then it's HER REST TIME...

...and kittens too. All cuddled up with full little tummies! Then it's my turn to catch up on the many nights of lost sleep too!

All to do it all over again when the next litter is due!!!!



I hope you ENJOYED all my photos... Thank you for taking the time to look through them!


Abayomi Abyssinians Cattery