What to Feed a Pregnant Cat

Grey cat cuddling her kitten

If your cat is expecting, her nutritional needs have changed. Pregnant cats have greater calorie and protein requirements than their non-pregnant counterparts, so learning about what to feed a pregnant cat is key. Step in and make some changes to your pregnant pet’s diet to give her the support she needs during this life-changing time.

The Role of Kitten Food for Pregnant Cats

Just like kittens, who need extra nutrients, protein and calories to support their development, pregnant cats thrive best on kitten food. High-quality food for kittens can provide an expecting mother cat with everything she needs for energy during what can be a tiring time. It also gives her the strength to support the new kittens she'll be nursing in just a little while.

A major element of knowing how to take care of a pregnant cat is selecting the right kind of kitten food. Dry kitten food invariably contains more calories than wet kitten food per portion. If your cat is strictly on a wet-food plan, you'll need to feed her larger servings or more frequent meals to ensure she gets the amount of nutrients and protein she needs. You may also think about mixing her wet food with some dry food to help her get more calories per day; some cats love this combination, while others tend to turn up their noses. 

Whichever approach you choose, your pregnant cat needs time to slowly transition to the new diet. Once you’ve selected an appropriate kitten food, start weaning the mother-to-be off her regular diet during the first month of the pregnancy. The earlier you begin this process, the better. Take around seven to 10 days to gradually add the new kitten food to her standard cat food. By day 10, you should have made a complete switch. This makes the change in diet more palatable for your expecting feline.

Continue the diet until a few weeks postpartum. In addition to helping the mother cat keep her nutrition on point for herself and the developing kittens inside her, it also helps her introduce her kittens to familiar solid foods when it comes time for her to wean them from the teat.

How Much Should Your Pregnant Cat Be Eating? 

Now that you know what to feed a pregnant cat, it's important to consider how much she should be eating. The caloric needs of your pregnant cat stay on a gradual rise from the very day she conceives through the pregnancy’s end, at which time she should be eating around 50 percent more than she normally does. However, it’s not uncommon for a pregnant cat to need as much as twice the amount of food that she normally consumes.

Luckily, you don’t have to worry about her eating too much. Cats, even pregnant ones, are typically sensible when it comes to eating. Most expecting cats tend to eat what they need and nothing more.

It’s a good idea to keep your cat’s particular preferences in mind when you feed her during pregnancy. If she really likes wet food and tends to ignore dry food, consider just feeding her more often or giving her larger portions. Also, remember that pregnant cats need a lot of water for hydration; that's particularly relevant if your cat prefers dry food since it lacks the water content of wet kitten food varieties.

Because your cat’s nutritional needs may change as she gets deeper into her pregnancy, it's a good idea to make her food available to her at all times. Around the ninth week of  pregnancy, the kittens growing inside your expecting cat start developing rapidly; as a result, your cat’s appetite may suddenly increase. You'll probably start to notice your cat’s weight increasing as she ups her food intake. This weight gain tends to naturally dissipate during the three to four weeks following delivery.

In stark contrast to mid-pregnancy, the end of the pregnancy may be characterized by a decline in your cat’s appetite. Don’t worry — this is completely normal towards her due date and usually means that labour is not too far away. However, even if she seems to be overly picky at mealtime or lack interest in eating, always keep food and water available for her; she'll change her mind eventually.

Nutritional Needs of Nursing Cats

What to feed a pregnant cat differs little from what to feed a lactating feline, but in most cases, the newly nursing mother will need more food. Once your cat gives birth, her nutritional needs remain extremely high. For the first eight weeks of her kittens’ lives, they are 100% reliant on their mother for their food, so it's not a good time for your feline’s nutrition to take a nosedive. In fact, nursing cats may require up to four times as much food as they did before pregnancy.

Keep feeding your nursing cat kitten formula until the litter is weaned completely. The added nutrients and the extra calories help the mother make the milk her kittens need and also give her more energy for chasing after them. When her milk production stops, slowly decrease the amount of food you offer her over a period of seven to 10 days until she’s back to eating at her pre-pregnancy level.

Now that you know what to feed a pregnant cat, learn how to ease the process of weaning kittens or read through our kitten care guides.

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