Cat nutrition: why it’s important during pregnancy and nursing

Did you know that taking care of a pregnant or nursing cat is an important aspect of welcoming new fluffy additions into your home? Feeding your furry friend the right food during this exciting time is essential for her health and the optimal growth and development of the kittens. Be sure to discover the key tips to ensure your cat and her kittens are flourishing during this magical period! In this article we will cover what to feed a pregnant and nursing cat, how much to feed a pregnant cat and why proper nutrition is important for our felines friends during pregnancy and nursing.

What to Feed a Pregnant Cat? 


During pregnancy, a cat’s energy needs increase dramatically, so it is vital to provide extra calories and protein in her diet.

That’s why it’s essential to switch to premium kitten food as soon as you know she’s expecting. Kitten food formulas contain all the essential nutrients needed for the health of the soon-to-be-mum and her kittens, including healthy fats, protein, and vital vitamins and minerals.

As obligate carnivores, cats thrive on a diet rich in real meat, which is why high-quality cat food should contain meat as the first ingredient, with no fillers, artificial colors, flavors, or by-products.

As long as you feed your cat high-quality kitten food, you may not need to add vitamins and mineral supplements unless your veterinarian recommends otherwise.

Why is proper nutrition very important for pregnant cats? 

Proper nutrition of pregnant cats is essential to ensure the health of both the mother and her offspring.

Poor nutrition during pregnancy can result in underweight kittens, health problems, or an inability to thrive. It can also increase the risk of stillbirth or spontaneous abortion. Conversely, overfeeding can lead to obesity, which can cause difficult and prolonged labor for the pregnant cat. That’s why proper nutrition is very important for pregnant cats.

The food for expectant queens must:

  • Have higher protein levels, to meet the needs of the growing kittens
  • Have more fat, to support their increased energy needs 
  • Be highly digestible, so they can get more nutrition from less food

How much to Feed a Pregnant Cat 

During pregnancy, it is normal for queens to gradually increase their food intake as their nutritional needs change. Most pregnant cats instinctively eat as much as they need. 

If your cat prefers kibble, make sure her bowl always has the recommended daily amount of food recommended on the back of the package.

If your cat prefers canned food, offer small portions more often during the day, especially late in pregnancy when kittens are growing in the womb and space in the mother’s tummy is limited. 

In addition, providing access to plenty of fresh water is critical to maintaining hydration and the health of a pregnant cat. 

How to change your cat’s food

Be patient and don’t rush! The best way to switch your cat to the new food is slowly, over one week, to avoid any gastrointestinal upset.

  • Day 1 and day 2 – mix 75 % old food with 25% new food. Increase the amount of the food gradually in the next seven days, unless your vet recommends otherwise for health reasons. 
  • Day 3 and day 4 – mix 50 % current food with 50 % new food
  • Day 5 and day 6 – mix 75 % new food with 25% old food
  • Day 7 and so on – 100% new food


Just like humans, every cat is unique and some may need more time to adjust to a new food. It is important to monitor your cat’s behavior during the transition period and watch for any signs of digestive problems, such as diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, or loss of appetite.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is recommended that you return to the previous amount of new food your cat tolerated and maintain this level for a few days until the symptoms subside.

However, if symptoms persist or are severe, it is necessary to contact your veterinarian for further guidance. Your veterinarian can help you determine if the symptoms are related to switching to another food or a more serious underlying condition. 

How much weight should a cat gain during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, cats normally gain between 2 and 4 pounds, which is approximately 20-30% of their pre-pregnancy weight and, is considered a normal range of weight gain.

What to feed a nursing cat?

After the birth of the babies, the new mother should be fed kitten food again until weaning. She needs more calories to produce enough milk for her offspring and give the young ones the best start in life.

Therefore, she should be fed freely throughout the day with dry food. She will probably eat small portions, but more often. If mom cat doesn’t like to eat kibble, feed her a complete and balanced canned kitten food. It’s good to remember that canned food spoils if it sits in the bowl for more than an hour.

The daily calorie intake of nursing cats depends on the size of the litter box and the age of the kittens. The new mother needs more energy when the litter is larger and as the kittens get older. The peak of her nutritional needs is about four weeks after the kittens are born when the weaning process begins.

The breastfeeding cat mama needs to stay hydrated, that’s why provide her a steady supply of fresh water.

How long do kittens nurse on their mother?

It’s important to note that every kitten has unique needs, and there is no set period that a kitten should be breastfed.

The weaning begins usually when the little fur babies are 4-5 weeks old and is usually complete after a month or when they reach 8-10 weeks old. During this period, kittens start to consume solid foods, and their dependence on their mother’s milk decreases gradually.

It’s important to monitor the kittens’ progress and seek veterinary advice if any concerns arise during the weaning process.

Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, providing a well-balanced and nutritious diet is critical for pregnant and nursing cats as it supports their health and the growth and development of kittens. When you give your cat the care she deserves, you too will enjoy the rewarding experience of welcoming new furry family members into your home!

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