What does the gestation/lactation stage cover?
Many feed their pregnant cats high quality kitten food to give them the extra nutrient boost they need during the gestation/lactation period. She’ll need those extra calories and higher levels of other key nutrients to get through what will probably be the most challenging period ever.
Gestation in cats takes approximately nine weeks. Her food intake will gradually rise, perhaps reaching about 50 percent or more above normal by the end of the pregnancy.
To achieve the necessary energy boost, and due to the pressure of the unborn kittens on her stomach, it is best to give her lots of smaller meals throughout the day, and to ensure that food is generally available on a continuous basis, day and night. Don’t forget she also needs a plenty of fresh water, particularly if she is eating dry food.
There should be a steady increase in body weight concurrent with increased food intake; you can expect to see an overall gain of 40 to 50 percent during pregnancy when compared to her pre-mating weight. She’ll be nursing for about four weeks, so she’ll lose the weight.
She might lose her appetite just before delivery, but still make sure plenty of water and food is available. As soon as she delivers she’ll begin nursing, and that’s one of the most nutritionally demanding tasks she’ll ever experience. During milk production, feeding requirements typically double, and may even quadruple. Nursing cats require the highest quality nutrition to provide energy to help them through this period of physical stress, and ensure the quality of their milk. As during pregnancy, it is advisable to continue feeding kitten food throughout nursing; the additional calories and higher levels of other key nutrients are just what she needs.
Ideally, give her the extra food she needs by increasing the number of meals served each day while maintaining the quantity of food offered at each meal, with fresh water always available. Dry food may be offered moistened during lactation to encourage the kittens to take an interest in their mother’s solid food. Offering canned food with a little water added may encourage the mother’s water intake.