During pregnancy and lactation, female cats have additional nutritional requirements. During this time a huge amount of energy is going into supporting the growing and then nursing kittens. If the queen is not receiving enough food during pregnancy, it will have an impact on her own health and can lead to kittens with a low birth rate. Inadequate nutrition during lactation can result in inadequate milk production, and kittens who fail to thrive. Proper nutrition is vital during both pregnancy and lactation.
What food should I give a pregnant cat?
The best food for a pregnant cat is kitten food. This is higher in calories than regular cat food and is easily digestible. She should eat her regular diet until the fourth week of pregnancy, at this time you should slowly change her diet over to the kitten food. This transition can take several days, it is not advised that you quickly change a cat's diet because it can cause a stomach upset. To do this, on the first day add 10% kitten food to 90% regular food, gradually increasing the kitten food by 10% daily and decreasing the adult food by 10% daily.
Cats, like humans, can experience morning sickness in the early stages of pregnancy. If this occurs, try to offer her highly palatable meals and/or warm them up in the microwave.
As the pregnancy progresses, and her unborn kittens become larger, the queen will need to eat more food. By the time of delivery, she should be consuming 100% more food than she would normally eat. If your queen is on a canned diet, it is recommended that you also leave dry food out for her to snack on between wet meals. By the time the kittens are 4-6 weeks old, the queen can be consuming 4 times the amount of food she would usually eat.
The female cat should remain on the kitten food diet until her kittens have weaned, which occurs between 8-10 weeks of age.
Fresh drinking water should also be provided. Don't give the queen cow's milk as this can cause tummy problems. Once weaned, cats lack the enzyme needed to break down milk.
Supplements and vitamins:
Some breeders recommend giving pregnant cats supplements, this is not recommended unless you have spoken to your veterinarian. Just because something is "natural" or "over the counter" doesn't mean that it is safe to use, especially during pregnancy.
How long does a pregnancy last?
A cat is pregnant for approximately 63 days or 9 weeks. A pregnant cat may go off her food a day or so before she delivers her kittens.