Advice on a healthy pregnancy
It is important to care for a pregnant female cat, to provide her with good nutrition and excellent medical care. Most cats do well throughout their pregnancy, but there are a few ways to make sure everything is going as smoothly as possible.
Good nutrition is never as important as during pregnancy. Just like kittens, pregnant cats need an extra dose of protein, energy and nutrients to help them through this period of physical stress. Commercial kitten formula is a better source of the extra nutrients needed both during pregnancy and for the weeks after birth. The extra energy and higher content of other key ingredients is just what a pregnant cat needs. Kitten foods often have the added benefit of being weaned: imitating their mother, the litter tries the food they will eat while growing up without the risk of indigestion. If your cat suffers from mild forms of food hypersensitivity and is fed a "gentle" formula, you can use the many formulas available for sensitive kittens. However, if your cat is on a particular diet for health reasons, consult your veterinarian before making any changes. From the moment of fertilization, your pregnant cat's food consumption will gradually increase - reaching about 50% above normal at the end of pregnancy (although it is not uncommon to achieve an increase of 100% above normal consumption). As long as you are getting enough food, most cats should regulate their daily intake to suit their needs. However, adequate nutrition during pregnancy is crucial for the health of your cat and offspring, so if a pregnant cat's appetite decreases, she is losing weight or you feel she is not eating enough, see your healthcare provider immediately.
To ensure the necessary increase in energy and due to the pressure exerted on the stomach by unborn kittens, it is best to give smaller meals throughout the day and to ensure that food is constantly available day and night. Don't forget that she also needs plenty of fresh water (preferably provide a second bowl close to the lair), especially if she is eating dry food. A steady increase in body weight should occur with the increased food consumption. Part of this mass is made up of fat, which a female cat stores in order to feed her kittens during lactation. This weight gain is completely normal and can be expected to be a total of 40% to 50% during pregnancy compared to pre-pregnancy weight. A female cat should lose excess body weight in the peak lactation period of 3-4 weeks.
Ideally, all your cat's vaccinations should be up-to-date prior to breeding. Healthy mothers pass immunity to kittens with the first food they produce, so it's a good idea to make sure the antibodies are at their optimal level. However, remember that if your cat is already pregnant and vaccination is approaching, always discuss this with your healthcare professional as some vaccines are not safe during pregnancy.
Deworming your cat during pregnancy is important to prevent the worms being transferred to the kittens through the placenta or through the milk. However, these drugs must be safe to use during pregnancy and therefore must be prescribed by your veterinarian. Flea control measures may also be necessary during pregnancy, and these should also be indicated by your doctor to ensure that the product you are using is safe for unborn kittens and kittens. Avoid all supplements and free medications as they can be dangerous. Always consult your veterinarian before giving anything to your pregnant cat.
Pregnancy complications are rare, usually limited to early miscarriages. Infectious diseases may be involved in these cases, so if your cat has a miscarriage, always contact your vet. Always follow best breeding practice for hygiene and separation of pregnant cats from other cats, as well as for infectious disease testing where appropriate.The risk of cats having a low calcium problem during / after pregnancy (tetany) is much lower than that of dogs, but it is possible and affected cats show signs of tremors, anxiety, agitation and, if left untreated, seizures. This may result in the death of the female cat and unborn kittens. A diet low in calcium based on fresh meat without supplements will predispose them to develop this disorder, but it is also found in cats receiving normal food whose consumption or digestibility is too low. All pregnant cats should be fed a complete balanced cat food.
Complications during childbirth are rare in cats. Occasionally it may be necessary to undergo a caesarean section if the birth canal is narrowed due to an injury (such as a pelvic fracture), or if the breed has an unusually large head or body size, or if there are other contraindications for vaginal delivery.
After giving birth
Newborn kittens are completely dependent on the milk provided by their mother for the first four weeks of life. Producing food, let alone handling a litter of curious kittens, means a newborn mother needs a lot of energy, so it's usually best to stay on kitten food for a while after giving birth. Depending on the number of kittens in a litter, she can eat up to four times more than usual during lactation. Only after the kittens are weaned, when the kitten has lost interest in caring for the kittens and they begin to nibble on solid food, should you return to regular food. More information can be found in the section 'Feeding during pregnancy and lactation '.