Skip to main content

Feeding a pregnant cat? There are a few things you’ll want to consider

When your cat is pregnant, she’ll need some extra care to keep her healthy and to ensure that her kittens grow up strong and healthy, too. One important element of understanding how to care for a pregnant cat is knowing what to feed her. As your cat’s pregnancy progresses, her nutritional requirements will change. Not only will she eat more, but she’ll need higher quality food. If you’re thinking about breeding your cat or have just discovered that she is expecting, it will be important to know what to feed a pregnant cat to help her and her babies flourish.

Why nutrition matters to your pregnant cat

During her pregnancy, your cat needs extra protein and calories, which help support the development of the kittens, and also give her the energy she’ll need to give birth and then care for her young. Cats who don’t receive the proper nutrition during their pregnancies could have fewer kittens, could give birth to kittens who are underweight, or could even give birth to kittens who experience health issues.

Mother cat lying on straw with her three kittens
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What to feed a pregnant cat

In most cases, a pregnant cat will get the nutrition she needs from high-quality kitten food, according to VCA Hospitals. Kitten food is higher in protein and calories than your typical food, meaning your cat can eat less of it while still meeting her nutritional needs. Kitten food is available in wet and dry forms, but dry food is more nutritionally dense than wet food. It’s best to feed a combination of the two, which can help to keep your cat hydrated while still making certain she gets the nutrition she requires.

While kitten food often works well for pregnant cats, keep in mind that your cat may need a special diet depending on other health conditions. Always discuss dietary changes with your veterinarian to make sure that you’re supporting your cat’s health with your food choices.

How much to feed a pregnant cat

Your cat will gradually start to eat more and more during her pregnancy to meet her growing caloric needs. By the end of her pregnancy, she’ll be eating about 1.5 times the amount of food that she usually eats.

Many pregnant cats will self-manage their intake well as long as you supply them with plenty of food. Keeping dry food available to your cat continuously can encourage her to graze, and most likely she will instinctively eat as much as she needs. You can supplement that dry food with wet food.

While many cats will self-regulate their food intake while pregnant, it is possible for cats to gain too much weight or to even lose weight while pregnant. For that reason, it is important to weigh your cat at least weekly during her pregnancy. You can talk to your veterinarian about ideal weight gain during feline pregnancy, and so be better prepared to notice any concerning discrepancies.

A cat eating out of a food dish

Tips for changing your cat’s food

When your cat is pregnant, you’ll need to gradually transition her over to her special diet. It’s important to make that transition slowly since sudden food changes can lead to digestive upset for your cat.

Start by introducing just a little bit of the new food into your cat’s current food. Then, over a period of 1- to 2 weeks, gradually add in a little more new food each day, while also decreasing the amount of your cat’s old food. Soon, your cat will be eating all new food.

Once on the kitten food, your cat can continue to eat that food throughout her pregnancy and as she raises her kittens. It will give her the nutrition she needs while nursing her kittens, and, as an added bonus, they will gradually learn to eat the food by watching her.

Consult your vet

Providing your cat with the nutrition she needs during her pregnancy is one of the best ways that you can care for her and the kittens. If you have questions about your cat’s pregnancy, her dietary needs, or her overall health, always talk with your veterinarian right away. They will become a close partner during this exciting time and will be the best person to give you specific recommendations about your cat’s unique pregnancy and health needs. With your vet’s guidance, you should be able to support your cat through her pregnancy and get to watch her kittens grow up strong and healthy as a result.

Editors' Recommendations

Paige Cerulli
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Paige's work has appeared in American Veterinarian, Business Insider, Healthline, and more. When she's not writing, Paige…
Is your cat biting when you pet them? This is what they’re trying to tell you
Cats can't tell us when they want us to leave them alone, so you need to watch out for other signs
Gray cat biting a person's hand

If you're lucky enough to live with a beloved feline, you know how quick cats can be. They leap from counter to counter, zoom around the apartment, and occasionally grab you and bite your hand. This behavior can be surprising and startling, and if you don't understand what it's about, you might be upset and frustrated.
Your cat biting your hand or arm seemingly randomly doesn't mean that they don't love you, and it also doesn't mean they're doing this just because. Instead, there are important messages behind your cat's behavior. If you're wondering, "Why does my cat bite me when I pet them," -- there are a few potential causes that you need to understand.

Why does my cat grab my hand and bite me?
If your cat bites you when you're patting her, you're witnessing something called petting-induced aggression. These bites are generally gentle and don't draw blood, but they can still be painful and upsetting. Your cat might lick at your hand first before using their teeth. (If you see signs of aggression, your cat is telling you in no uncertain terms to back off and give them some space.)

Read more
Lap time, nap time: Why your cat chooses to sit on you
Find out the real reasons your cat lies in your lap
Cat sitting in a lap

As a pet parent, nothing is better than when your cat decides to curl up for a nap on your lap. Sometimes it can be slightly irritating when you need to get some work done, attempt to move your fur baby, and they look at you like you've not only offended them, but also the entire domestic cat species. But it's impossible to say no to their adorable noses and whiskers, so you let them stay. Have you ever wondered why so many of our feline family members become lap cats? We'll tell you everything you need to know about why cats love to sit on you.
Reasons your cat loves to sit on you
Wonder why your lap is your cat's favorite place to sleep? Here are some of the most common reasons.
Cats sit on you because they seek connection and attention
Despite their reputation for being aloof, most cats crave attention, especially from their favorite people. Cats get lonely when you’re not around and will beg for attention when you are. One way they do this is by sitting on your lap; it’s hard to ignore them when they’re right on top of you! They also come to you for connection and love. Usually, a cat on the lap gets affection, so your cat may come to you when they want to be petted and feel loved.
Cats get on your lap because you’re warm
Whether it’s by the radiator or in a sunbeam, kitties love napping in warm spots. One of the coziest places in your home happens to be wherever you are because of the heat your body emits! This could be why your cat likes sitting with you. They may choose to sit on your lap because they want to soak up all your body heat. Luckily, it’s not a one-way street; your cat’s body heat and fur can help keep you warm, too. With your lap cat, you’ll both stay nice and cozy.
Cats sit on you because they trust you
Sitting on top of you is a cat's ultimate sign of trust. Cats only sit in the laps of people they really feel safe with. This is especially true if they nap on you. Your cat is essentially saying they trust you to protect them from any predators while they're napping. To build even more trust with your pet, make sure you’re not forcing them to sit on your lap, and you’re giving them the option to walk away when they want. By acknowledging their freedom and leaving your lap open to your kitty, you're encouraging them to trust you even more.
Cats like the way you smell and sound
Your body is like a white-noise machine for cats. They find the noises human beings naturally make, like breathing and heartbeats, to be very soothing. It helps them relax into an easy slumber. Your cat may also be attracted to your unique scent. Smelling you may make your cat feel safer, making it easier for them to fall asleep. This can also explain why your cat always seems to love sleeping on your clothes, bed, and other possessions.

Your clothes feel nice to a cat
Have you noticed that your cat sleeps on your lap only when you’re wearing certain things? Cats love to nap in warm, comfy spots. They’re also sensitive to certain textures, favoring soft, fuzzy materials over scratchy ones. If you’re wearing a fluffy fleece sweatshirt or a soft bathrobe, your cat may be more likely to cozy up to you. But if you’re wearing a vinyl raincoat, they may not be as interested.
Of course, your cat likes you
In addition to trusting you and wanting your attention, a cat sitting on your lap usually means that they like you! Lots of cats choose a favorite human. Cats have many ways of showing their affection, like purring, nudging you, and sitting in your lap. It’s high praise coming from a cat. They’re more likely to rest next to their favorite person than anyone else in the room.
Your cat is marking their territory
Many cats naturally feel the need to claim their territory, which might include you and your bed. Cats rub their heads and leave behind pheromones on whatever they feel is theirs. Then, when other cats come along, they can smell those pheromones and will recognize that they’re in another cat’s territory.

Read more
Is incense bad for cats? 4 important things to consider before using it in your home
Considerations, safety tips, and healthier alternatives for burning incense around cats
Burning incense and tabby cat

Pet accidents, dirty laundry, stagnant air, and garbage are all common causes of an unpleasant smell. And if you’re a cat parent, managing the kitty litter box can be a smelly proposition in itself. So what’s a self-respecting homeowner to do?

Burning incense is among the various methods you can use to make your home smell nice, but is incense bad for cats? If so, it's important to learn whether the benefits of having a pleasant-smelling home outweigh the potential health risks that burning incense poses for your cat. If you love the smell of incense but worry that it’s not good for your feline friend, this is everything you should consider.
What is incense? A primer on the centuries-old aromatic biotic material
Incense is made of plant materials and essential oils that are pressed onto a bamboo stick or shaped into a cone or block. When burned, it produces a fragrant smoke that is used for religious ceremonies, meditation, or simple everyday ambiance.

Read more