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Breeding & Showing Cats

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Kitten’s Umbilical Cord Stub Fails To Fall Off

When my Ragdoll queen gave birth to six kittens, they were all born healthy and they thrived. The only problem was that at two and a half weeks old, one kitten still had its dried up umbilical cord attached. Typically a newborn kitten’s umbilical cord dries up and falls off within the first week of life. Other than the umbilical cord issue, the kitten was doing beautifully, but obviously I was concerned.

After consultation with Lee Harper, editor of &, she requested photos of the kitten’s belly. After viewing the photos, she suggested I could simply cut off the long dried cord. I used a 3-step procedure:

  • Examining The Area At Skin Level
  • Preparing The Scissors
  • Cutting The Cord
The kitten with its dried-up umbilical cord.
A closer view
Extreme Close-up

Step #1: Examining The Area At Skin Level

Place the kitten on its back. Wet the skin around the belly button with some water or alcohol. The moisture tends to make the hair a bit transparent plus it helps hold the hair away from the area where the umbilical cord is still attached. You need to examine the area closely. If it all looks fine, you can proceed to Step #2.

If the area looks red, inflamed or has a bulge do not proceed but instead, take the kitten to be checked by your veterinarian. It may have an Umbilical Cord Infection or an Umbilical Hernia.

Wetting the area allows a better view.

Step #2: Preparing The Scissors

If the umbilical area looks normal, you can simply cut off the dried cord. To do this, you need to use a pair of small sharp scissors.

As a precaution, dip the blades in alcohol or boil them in water to sterilize them. While sterilization is not really necessary as you are going to be cutting away dead tissue (not live), it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Dipping the blades of the scissors in boiling water.

Step # 3: Cutting The Cord

If you want to test the sharpness of the scissors, you can try cutting of a small piece of the cord near the end. Because the cord is all dried up, it sometimes takes a bit of force to cut through it depending on the size and sharpness of the scissors.

Preparing the area.

Now you are ready. Simply cut the dried umbilical cord off at the skin with the scissors. The cord is dead – it has no blood vessels or nerves. It is just dried up tissue and can be cut off safely and easily. Hold the blades of the scissors parallel to the kitten’s belly and using just the points of the blades, cut through the cord close to the skin.

If you like, you can cut the cord approximately a ½ inch away from the skin and leave a short stub. The stub will quickly fall off on its own.

The one thing to be careful about is that as you cut the cord you don’t want the healthy skin around the belly button to accidentally be pulled into the blades of scissors. This is why the scissors must be sharp.

Scissors positioned flat against the Kitten’s belly.
The cord after it was removed.

The Result

The kitten’s umbilicus — the belly button — now looks pink, healthy and closed.

The kitten’s new belly button.

Final Thoughts

Thanks Mom!

If the umbilical cord does not fall off within the typical time-frame of one week, it is usually due to the umbilical cord being cut too long in length so that the “drying” process necessary before it drops off takes longer. To avoid the possibility of this sort of thing happening, when a kitten is born, if the mom-cat chews the cord off too far away from the newborn’s belly, the human midwife can tie the cord shorter and cut the extra off.

When the umbilical cord is left too long, there is the possibility that it could tangle in the kitten’s foot, or the foot of a sibling and result in a tug on the kitten’s belly button that could result in an umbilical hernia

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