What to Feed Nursing Mother Cats

by Naomi Millburn, Demand Media
    Adult cat food can't properly satisfy growing kittens' nutritional demands.

    Adult cat food can't properly satisfy growing kittens' nutritional demands.

    If your cat is pregnant, it's crucial not only to pay special attention to her diet during gestation, but also to her meals after, while she's busy nursing her litter. Remember, feeding newborn kittens calls for tons of energy, and mom's body needs to make up for all of it.

    Protein Needs of Nursing Mother Cats

    Nursing mother cats usually do well on commercial foods made for kittens. Dry and moist foods are both suitable. While nursing, they require foods with elevated levels of protein, just like developing kittens, hence the need to temporarily stay away from adult formulas. Extra protein isn't the only necessity for feeding nursing cats. They also need considerably higher portions of food -- double of what they consume in times other than pregnancy. If a nursing mother cat has additional caloric intake, it helps her body make milk and properly feed her little ones.

    Switch to Regular Cat Food

    Mother cats need to continue to eat kitten foods until their kittens are completely weaned and done nursing. Kittens, for the most part, are weaned once they get to between 8 and 10 weeks old. Once the kittens are weaned, they're mature enough to eat solid foods 100 percent of the time -- and mom is ready to go back to eating cat food for adults, rather than for kittens. At this point, she's also ready to revert back to her usual portions. Make any dietary shifts slow and measured, whether they involve amounts or types of food. Never be abrupt when it comes to your pet's dietary changes.

    Water

    Ample water is imperative in any feline diet, no exceptions. However, lots of water is even more crucial for nursing mamas because of how much of it they require to make milk. Ensure that your mother cat always has lots of clean and cool water available in front of her.

    Free Choice

    The free choice feeding style is a common way to handle a nursing cat's portions. Nursing asks a lot of a female cat's body, and free choice feeding can help accommodate those needs by allowing mothers to determine their portions by themselves. Free choice also enables nursing cats to decide exactly when they want to eat. Dry food is frequently used for free feeding purposes, as moist food tends to go bad quickly. Once your cat's kittens are weaned, you can stop the free feeding and return to your normal feeding frequencies. Many owners feed their adult cats twice each day, for example.

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

    Photo Credits

    • John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images