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.
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.
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.
- The City of Austin, Texas: Nursing Mothers and Their Kittens
- Feline Advisory Bureau: Feeding Cats
- Hollyoak Veterinary Surgery: Feeding Felines
- Merck Veterinary Manual: Feeding Practices in Small Animals
- Health and Nutrition for Dogs and Cats; David G. Wellock
- Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine: Nutrition for the Adult Cat
- Clermont Animal Hospital: Nutrition for Cats and Kittens
- Belle Vue Vets: Small Animal Nutrition
- ASPCA: Weaning
- ASPCA: Feeding Your Adult Cat
- John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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