It's important to prepare for the birth of kittens, which is called "queening." Prepare a laundry basket or a cardboard box by lining it with soft blankets. Let the cat live in this new environment for about two weeks prior to delivery, so that it gets used to it. Place the box in a clean, dark and quiet area. Line the box with newspapers during the delivery, replacing them as it becomes necessary. After delivery, clean the box well and line it again. Never allow your cat to give birth in its cat litter, as it can lead to disease [source: Foster and Smith]. Here is how to help your cat when it actually begins labor.
- The cat will become very restless and vocal just before going into labor [source: Mar Vista Animal Medical Center]. It will take it a while until it finds its maternity bed or another suitable place for the delivery. Get all your supplies ready once labor begins. Prepare a bowl of warm water along with cloths and towels. It's also advisable to have dental floss and petroleum jelly ready [source: Purina].
- The cat will break the amniotic sack as soon as a kitten is born. If you notice that the cat needs help, tear the sack open to enable the kitten to breath.
- The cat will clean the face of its kitten. If you notice that she's having difficulty, remove the membranes from the kitten's face and clean out the nose and mouth to help it breathe [source: Foster and Smith].
- The cat will eat the placenta once the kitten is born [source: Camino Animal Clinic]. Don't worry if she doesn't do this.
- The mother cat will usually bite the umbilical cord off. If she has difficulty, tie the dental floss around the umbilical cord 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) from the kitten's body and cut the umbilical cord on the mother's side of the tie [source: Purina].
- The cat will give birth to one kitten every 30 to 45 minutes. If you see the cat straining for more than an hour, call your vet [source: Camino Animal Clinic].