At 6:30pm tonight I thought I had finished for the day and I looked in on pregnant Zabrina as I was leaving. She was lying on her side purring (cats purr with pleasure when you stroke them, but when they purr on their own it usually means they are in pain). I knelt down next to her and stroked her and within minutes I realised her first baby was being born. I continued reassuring her but I realised, horrified, that the baby was breech (like human babies, kittens are born head first but occasionally when a kitten is in the breech position the mother can’t expel expel her and may die, as may the other kittens who are prevented from being born). In this case just one back leg and tail had been born. The mother struggled for twenty minutes but there was no movement, so I tried easing out the stuck kitten.
The mother was going crazy with the pain and walking in circles. I ran downstairs and called the local emergency vet and asked for an emergency cesarean saying I would be in the surgery in 15 minutes. Back upstairs, I heard squeaking as I entered the room and amazingly the mother had managed to birth a healthy live baby while I had been on the phone! Now the others will follow quickly, I thought. But no, the second kitten (a ginger), was also breech. This was a proper breech birth and when his bottom was born I was able to ease him out to help the mother who was biting both my arm and her first baby (whom I removed quickly). This baby was still, so I rubbed him and dried him and he started breathing then gave him to his mother for licking. Half an hour later, baby three, a tabby was also born breech. This one was kicking as his bottom and back legs were born. He was trying to birth himself! Half an hour later a fourth kitten, another tabby, was born normally and quickly and mum cat settled down purring to care for her new family. I waited another 40 minutes and as all was calm, I went home at 10pm.