Food and Nutrition

When to Feed your Pregnant Queen
During pregnancy, the queen will need more food to allow for the growth of her unborn kittens. Unlike most other pregnant animals, which tend to gain most weight in the last third of pregnancy, the pregnant queen begins to increase her food intake almost immediately after mating, as she will lay down extra calorie stores in her body. These can be used later in pregnancy and lactation, when it may be difficult for her to eat enough to meet her requirements. She will slowly increase the amount of food she is eating and during the last 2 weeks of her 9 week pregnancy, she may be eating as much as twice her normal ration of food.

Throughout the whole period of pregnancy and lactation, feed your cat as much as she needs to satisfy her appetite. During lactation, in particular, food should also be available during the night. Frequent meals of a concentrated food are helpful since the capacity of the stomach to expand is limited when the abdomen is full of kittens. The food should be very palatable in order to encourage her to eat enough to meet her needs.

The calorie requirements of the lactating queen depend on the number of kittens she is rearing and their age, as these 2 factors will influence the amount of milk she produces. Lactation reaches its peak in by the 5th and 6th week, and the combined food intake of the queen and her kittens may now be as much as 3 times that of a normal adult cat before mating. Extra feeding needs to continue until the kittens are weaned, then food intake can gradually be cut back to the cat’s normal amount. The general condition and health of the queen is the best guide as to whether she is getting sufficient amounts. Watch for any signs of weight loss or gain and adjust her meals accordingly.

Kittens usually start to take solid food from 4 weeks of age, although they should not be completely weaned until about 8 weeks old.
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