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Nutrition for Pregnant or Nursing Cats & Kittens FAQs


Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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What should I feed my pregnant/nursing cat?
If you didn't start a vitamin-plus-mineral supplement before breeding, start it now. Do not over-supplement, as that may be harmful to the developing kittens. If you are adding multiple supplements to the diet, make a list of all the ingredients, gather nutritional labels, and take everything to your veterinarian to make sure it is balanced. Poor diets may cause problems with the developing fetuses and with the queen.

The queen should eat a premium adult food prior to pregnancy and for the first few weeks of pregnancy. Starting the fourth week of pregnancy, begin adding a premium kitten food to her diet. Each week, increase the amount of the kitten food, so when she is in her final week of pregnancy, she is on all kitten food. Increase the frequency of the daily meals to three or free-feed her by mid-pregnancy. She may need to eat small meals every 3-4 hours during the last week of the pregnancy, as the kittens continue to take up more room (remember that most fetal growth occurs in the last two weeks of gestation).

During the last week of pregnancy and the first 3-4 weeks of lactating, she may eat 1½-2 times the amount she ate before pregnancy. As long as she is gaining a healthy amount and not becoming obese, she should receive the food.


Kittens

At what age should I switch my kitten to adult food?
Most commercial kitten foods are developed to feed until 12 months of age. At that point, you can switch your kitten to adult cat food.

What types of food should I feed my kitten?
We at Drs. Foster & Smith recommend feeding your kitten dry foods. In addition to generally being better for your kitten, dry foods are typically economical, easy to feed, only 9-11% water, and are made of quality ingredients. We do not recommend feeding your kitten expensive, high-calorie, high-water-content canned food or semi-moist foods. Further, cats who grow up eating dry foods typically have fewer intestinal upsets, (diarrhea or constipation), fewer problems with unwanted weight gain, and better overall dental health.

What about kitten treats?
Treats should never account for more than 10% of your kitten's caloric intake. Your kitten's food is his sole source for the nutrition he needs, so be careful not "fill up" your kitten on treats. While many cats enjoy soft treats, hard chew treats are available in many varieties and help improve dental health by exercising the gums and scraping the teeth.

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