Nutritional Considerations for Feeding a Nursing Cat

Pregnancy, giving birth and nursing brings a lot of changes in a cat's body. Consequently, you should pay particular attention to diet for the nursing cat, which is important both for the cat and the kittens' well-being.

The Importance of a Nursing Cat Diet

Immediately after giving birth, a cat mother starts producing milk and it is highly recommended that the kittens get this milk. The cat milk is a vital source of nutrients and antibodies which will make the cat litter immune to different bacteria and diseases. Consequently, the diet will have to be nutritional and balanced, so that the mother is able to produce the kitten milk with all the nutrients that are needed.

Changes in Appetite

The entire process of gestation and lactation signal major changes in the life of your cat and her appetite change accordingly.

Due to hormonal changes during and after pregnancy, you will observe that your cat is eating too much or too little. This is a normal symptom but keep an eye on your cat's weight.

Serving Guidelines

Throughout the lactation period (4 to 5 weeks) cat eats more, because producing milk will be highly demanding on the body.

Generally, the food intake of a nursing cat will be doubled. To guarantee the mother has all the food she needs, increase the number of servings rather than increasing the amount of the servings.

It is essential that the mother cat eats kitten food and not adult cat food, so that the cat can pass on the necessary nutrients to the kittens. Actually this diet should start during the last two weeks of pregnancy, ensuring that the milk will have the required nutrients for the cat litter starting from the first days of lactation. Gradually alter the diet by serving a higher and higher kitten food to cat food ratio until it's all kitten food.

Make sure to include enough water in the diet; the cat needs to produce enough milk and stay hydrated.

4 to 5 weeks after birth, the kittens will start being attracted to solid food. By this time the lactating cat will produce less milk and this process should stop eventually. Meanwhile, the cat will start eating less and should balance back to her normal weight.

Nutrient Check-List for a Nursing Cat

The food served to a lactating feline must be rich in protein, minerals and carbohydrates. You might consider additional vitamins and supplements. Calcium is highly important for the production of kitten milk, while the phosphorus is vital for a balanced health. Check the labels of the food cans to see if they contain magnesium (which facilitates the absorption of calcium), iron (to avoid anemia), potassium, sodium and chloride to prevent dehydration.