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Feeding Your Pregnant Queen

It is important for a queen (female cat) to be fully mature (usually 1 ½ years to 2 years of age) and in good body condition prior to becoming pregnant. Queens that are underweight or overweight can have difficulties conceiving, carrying the pregnancy to term, or delivering live kittens unassisted.

Queens should eat a growth or premium performance diet throughout pregnancy. Energy density of the diet would ideally be between 4 and 5 kcal/g dry matter. Queens have increased energy needs beginning with conception, unlike dogs. Their energy intake should be 25 to 50% above maintenance levels, but some cats may require up to a 70% increase over maintenance.

Fresh water is important during pregnancy and lactation. Many queens will refuse to leave the nesting box immediately following the birth of the kittens, so it may be necessary to take food and water to her.

Peak lactation occurs at 3 to 4 weeks post-partum. Peak food intake by the queen usually occurs at 6 to 7 weeks post-partum, but this is thought to be partially because of increasing food intake by the kittens. At weaning (usually 6-8 weeks of age), the diet can gradually be switched back to a maintenance formula.

Diets that are extremely acidified to prevent urinary tract disease (such as prescription urinary formulas) are not ideal to feed to pregnant queens or kittens. The acidifier in the diet may interfere with normal bone development of the kittens in utero and after weaning. If you have a cat that is being treated for urinary tract problems, it would be highly recommended that she be spayed and not allowed to become pregnant.

Please note that this information does not replace professional veterinary care. It is solely for educational purposes. Your pet's medical condition should be evaluated by a veterinarian before any medical decisions are implemented. If there is a potentially life-threatening emergency involving your pet, take your pet to a veterinarian or veterinary facility immediately.

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