The nutrition requirements of a cat during pregnancy and nursing are extremely important for the development of healthy kittens and maintenance of the mother cat’s health. During pregnancy a large amount of the food energy your cat eats is directed towards growth and development of the kittens. When a mother cat nurses her kittens she is the sole provider of nutrient and calories to her kittens. Depending on the size of her litter, she may require more or less calories, although her calorie intake will definitely be higher than when she is not pregnant or nursing.
During a pregnancy, your cat should gain 40-50% of their pre-pregnancy body weight. If your cat weighed 8 pounds before pregnancy, she should weigh 11-12 pounds before delivering her litter. Consult your veterinarian about how much weight your cat should ideally gain before delivery. Gaining this weight is a necessary preparation for nursing, which takes a huge amount of energy and calories. A cat will inevitably lose weight while nursing her kittens. After the birth of her kittens and nursing, your cat should eventually weigh close to her pre-pregnancy weight.
Calorie Chart for Pregnant Cats
5 lb – 336 calories
10 lb – 603 calories
15 lb – 851 calories
20 lb – 1,091 calories
You should discuss your individual cat’s calorie needs with your veterinarian throughout her pregnancy.
At birth, each kitten will weigh 3.5 ounces, on average. A 3.5 ounce kitten requires 20-25 calories per day. The amount of calories each kitten needs will increase daily as they grow. An average litter contains 4 kittens. That’s a lot of hungry kittens for your mother cat to feed! While your cat is nursing, you should provide food to her at all times, so that she can eat when hungry to replenish her energy and calorie supply.
Read What Do I Feed a Pregnant Cat? to learn how to feed a pregnant or nursing cat.