Your pregnant cat will benefit from your care to have a safe, healthy pregnancy. Plan to provide her with support before the kittens arrive, then prepare to give her plenty of family time after they’re born.

Here’s what you can do to help your cat during her pregnancy:

Visit the Veterinarian

Make an appointment with your veterinarian to confirm your cat is pregnant. During the appointment, your cat's overall health will be assessed and you’ll be provided with a due date. If there are any unrelated conditions to treat — like fleas or ear mites — those should be addressed as well.

Discuss the plan of care with your veterinarian and proceed with any needed medications or vaccinations that are safe during pregnancy.

Adapt Her Diet

Don’t make any initial changes without your vet’s input — overfeeding or underfeeding your cat can make her pregnancy more difficult. Consult with your vet during the first visit to create an appropriate feeding plan and adapt your cat’s diet accordingly.

Your vet may suggest mixing in some higher-calorie kitten food with your cat’s regular food at this time — she’ll need the extra calories to produce milk.

Lower, Cleaner Litter Box

If your cat's litter box has high sides or a narrow entrance, consider replacing it. Choose a low, wide pan that’s more accommodating of her ever-expanding belly. To help keep her healthy, clean the litter at least twice a day and wash the box once a week.

Monitor Her Behavior

Your cat won't act differently for the first few weeks of her pregnancy. Soon, however, she'll sleep more. And she may sleep so much that she’ll forego meals. You can help encourage her to eat by waking her at feeding time or showing her the food and water in the bowls to help remind her.

As delivery nears, you may notice that she is frequently licking her teats — this is normal. When the teats fill with milk they can become uncomfortable, and her licking is a soothing act that helps to ease the pressure.

Delivery Do's and Don'ts

Don't ever press on your cat's pregnant belly. Do prepare a place for her to give birth — a large cardboard box with low sides is a great choice — and put it in a quiet room.

When your cat goes into labor, she'll pant and pace. If she's not in her box, do try gently placing her there. Allow at least four hours for all of the kittens to be born. If more than eight hours pass and she’s still straining, do call your veterinarian.

After the kittens are born, let the mother cat take care of them. Don't handle them yourself. Do give the cat and her new kittens plenty of alone time in their first week together. And don’t worry — you’ll get plenty of time with the kittens after that!