30+ Warning Signs: Symptoms of a Dead Kitten Inside a Cat

symptoms of dead kitten inside cat

Are you worried about your pregnant cat? It’s not uncommon for cat owners to be concerned about the health of their feline friends during pregnancy.

One of the most distressing situations is when a kitten dies inside the mother’s womb. So, how can you tell if this has happened?

In this article, we’ll discuss the causes of fetal death in cats, common symptoms of a dead kitten inside the cat, diagnosis and treatment, and preventive measures to ensure your cat’s and her kittens’ health.

Causes of Fetal Death in Cats

Several factors can contribute to the death of a kitten inside a cat’s womb. Some of the most common causes include:

  1. Infections: Bacterial and viral infections can lead to fetal death or stillbirth. Common infections include feline leukaemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).
  2. Trauma: Accidents or injuries to the pregnant cat can cause damage to the unborn kitten, leading to its death.
  3. Poor Nutrition: Malnutrition or an imbalanced diet during pregnancy can result in the death of a kitten in the womb.
  4. Genetic Disorders: Certain hereditary conditions may cause fetal abnormalities, leading to the kitten’s death before birth.

Symptoms of a Dead Kitten Inside a Cat

If you suspect that your cat may have a dead kitten inside her, watch out for these symptoms:

  1. Delayed labor: If your cat’s labor is delayed or irregular, it may indicate a problem with the unborn kitten, such as a deceased kitten causing complications.
  2. Abdominal discomfort: A cat carrying a dead kitten may experience discomfort or pain in her abdomen, making her more sensitive to touch and potentially causing changes in her behavior.
  3. Excessive licking of the vulva: A cat with a deceased kitten inside may excessively lick her genital area due to discomfort, irritation, or a possible infection.
  4. Vocalizing more than usual: A distressed cat may meow or cry more frequently, signaling pain or anxiety related to the deceased kitten.
  5. Panting: Heavy breathing or panting could indicate that your cat is experiencing distress or pain, potentially due to complications from the dead kitten.
  6. Shivering or trembling: If your cat is shivering or trembling, she may be experiencing pain, anxiety, or even a fever related to the deceased kitten.
  7. Sudden weight gain or loss: An unexpected weight change could indicate a problem with the pregnancy, such as a deceased kitten causing complications or infections.
  8. Difficulty walking or jumping: A cat carrying a dead kitten may have difficulty moving around due to abdominal discomfort, swelling, or general weakness.
  9. Change in coat condition: The mother cat’s coat may become dull, dry, or unkempt due to stress, poor health, or hormonal changes related to the deceased kitten.
  10. Nesting behavior without giving birth: If your cat displays nesting behavior but does not give birth, she may be carrying a deceased kitten and experiencing difficulties with the birthing process.
  11. Frequent urination: Increased urination may indicate a urinary tract infection or other health issues related to the dead kitten, such as infection or inflammation.
  12. Irregular or rapid heartbeat: Changes in the mother cat’s heartbeat may indicate stress, pain, or health problems caused by the presence of a deceased kitten.
  13. Excessive grooming: A distressed cat may groom herself more frequently than usual, possibly in response to discomfort, irritation, or infection related to the dead kitten.
  14. Hiding or isolating herself: If your cat is hiding or isolating herself from her usual environment, she may be experiencing discomfort, pain, or stress caused by the deceased kitten.
  15. Regurgitating food: A cat carrying a dead kitten may regurgitate her food due to gastrointestinal distress, pain, or other health issues related to the deceased kitten.
  16. Swollen mammary glands: Swollen or tender mammary glands could indicate infection or inflammation, potentially caused by complications from the deceased kitten.
  17. Labored breathing: Labored breathing may be a sign of respiratory distress or infection resulting from the dead kitten inside the cat.
  18. Changes in eye appearance: The mother cat’s eyes may appear dull, sunken, or have discharge if she is unwell due to the presence of a deceased kitten.
  19. Persistent crying or whining: Persistent vocalization could indicate pain, discomfort, or anxiety caused by the presence of a dead kitten.
  20. Scratching or biting at her abdomen: A cat experiencing abdominal pain may scratch or bite at her abdomen, potentially due to discomfort from the deceased kitten.
  21. Uncoordinated movements: If the mother cat exhibits uncoordinated movements or appears unsteady, she may be distressed or experience neurological issues related to the dead kitten.
  22. Rapid or shallow breathing: Rapid or shallow breathing could indicate respiratory distress, pain, or anxiety caused by a deceased kitten inside the cat.
  23. Disinterest in grooming kittens: A mother cat that has lost a kitten may lose interest in grooming her surviving kittens, potentially due to stress, depression, or hormonal changes.
  24. Dilated pupils: Dilated pupils could be a sign of pain, stress, or neurological issues caused by the deceased kitten.
  25. Depression or listlessness: A cat mourning a lost kitten may exhibit signs of depression or listlessness, showing a lack of energy or interest in her surroundings.
  26. Straining to pass feces or urine: Straining could indicate gastrointestinal or urinary distress related to the deceased kitten, possibly due to infection, inflammation, or other complications.
  27. Refusal to leave the nesting area: If your cat refuses to leave her nesting area, she may be in distress or mourning her lost kitten, feeling a need to stay close to the birthing site.
  28. Excessive pacing or circling: Anxiety or distress may cause your cat to pace or circle excessively, possibly due to discomfort or concern for her deceased kitten.
  29. Changes in body temperature: A fluctuating body temperature could indicate infection, inflammation, or other health issues related to the dead kitten.
  30. Inability to settle or find a comfortable position: A cat carrying a dead kitten may be unable to find a comfortable position due to abdominal discomfort, swelling, or other complications.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suspect your cat is carrying a deceased kitten, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian.

They will perform a physical examination and may use diagnostic tests such as ultrasound, x-rays, or blood tests to confirm the presence of a dead kitten inside your cat.

The veterinarian will recommend the best course of action based on the diagnosis. Treatment options may include:

  1. Medical Management: If the dead kitten poses no immediate risk to the mother’s health, the veterinarian may suggest waiting for the cat to expel the dead kitten naturally during labor. Medications may be prescribed to help induce labor or manage pain and inflammation.
  2. Surgical Intervention: In some cases, a surgical procedure called a cesarean section may be necessary to remove the dead kitten and protect the mother’s health.
  3. Antibiotics and Supportive Care: If an infection is suspected, your veterinarian will likely prescribe antibiotics to combat it. Additional supportive care, such as fluid therapy and pain management, may also be provided.

Prevention and Care

To minimize the risk of fetal death in your pregnant cat, consider the following steps:

  1. Prenatal Care: Regular veterinary check-ups during pregnancy can help ensure your cat’s health and identify any potential issues early on.
  2. Genetic Testing: If you’re planning to breed your cat, consider genetic testing to identify any hereditary conditions that may affect the health of the kittens.
  3. Proper Nutrition: Provide your pregnant cat with a balanced and nutritious diet to support her health and the development of her kittens.
  4. Safe Environment: Create a safe and comfortable environment for your pregnant cat, minimizing stress and reducing the risk of accidents or injuries.


Understanding the symptoms of a dead kitten inside a cat is crucial for ensuring the health of your pregnant feline friend.

By being aware of the signs, seeking prompt veterinary care, and taking preventive measures, you can help protect your cat and her unborn kittens.

Remember that early intervention is vital, so don’t hesitate to consult a veterinarian if you have any concerns.


1.  How long can a dead kitten stay inside a cat?

A dead kitten can remain inside the cat for several days. Still, seeking veterinary care when you suspect a problem is crucial to avoid complications like infection or damage to the mother’s reproductive system.

2. Can a cat still give birth to healthy kittens if one of them is dead?

Yes, a cat can still give birth to healthy kittens even if one of them has died in the womb. However, it’s essential to monitor the mother closely during labor and seek veterinary assistance if any complications arise.

3. How can I tell if my cat is in pain due to a dead kitten?

Signs of pain in a cat carrying a dead kitten may include vocalizing, restlessness, excessive licking of the genital area, loss of appetite, and reluctance to move. If you suspect your cat is in pain, contact your veterinarian immediately.

4. Can a dead kitten be absorbed by the mother’s body?

In some cases, the mother’s body may reabsorb a deceased fetus early in the pregnancy. However, this is less likely to occur in the later stages of pregnancy when the kitten has developed further.

5. Is it normal for a cat to have a miscarriage?

While it’s common for a cat to experience a miscarriage or stillbirth, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian to address any underlying health issues and ensure the mother’s well-being.

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