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Ask the Doctor December 2017 Issue

Dear Doctor: How to Feed Kittens and their Nursing Mom


Marazem | Dreamstime

It's important for kittens AND their nursing mom to eat a high-quality kitten food because it is higher in protein and fat.

Q I am fostering an adolescent stray mother cat and her three kittens (I picked them up when the kittens were about one-week-old) and I fed her a high-quality wet cat food the first few days.

Then, I was told by a cat-loving friend that it was best to feed her kitten food because it’s higher in protein and fat. Is this true? I want to do the best for mama cat and her little brood!

Allison Sweeney

A Dear Allison: Yes, your friend is correct: It’s very important to feed a nursing queen AND her kittens a good quality KITTEN food (the kittens should start to be transitioned to cat food around three to four weeks of age).

To make sure that the food that you are feeding is suitable for both mama and kittens, look for a statement in teeny tiny print on the can that says “[This food] has been formulated to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for [kitten growth or all life stages]” or a statement that says “Animal feeding trials substantiate that [product] provides complete and balanced nutrition for the [growth and reproduction or all life stages] of cats.”

Avoid diets that simply say “for adult maintenance” (but don’t mention growth). Keep in mind that all kitten foods should be okay for growth, and many “cat” foods are also okay for kittens and nursing queens, but the only way to know for sure is to look for the statement on the label.

Cailin Heinze, VMD, MS, DACVN

Assistant Professor of Nutrition

Cummings School of

Veterinary Medicine

At Tufts University

Comments (1)

Look i found this thread AFTER thought no big deal give nursing mommie some nip,,, An abandonment at my vet i accepted offer to foster the 5 of them ... think she's never had catnip as looks like a baby herself & clearly didnt know what a litterbox was... well she had a good whif & her attitude changed INSTANTLY! She was so into it, one of her 5 week olds walked by & she grabbed him & tore into him like a chew toy!! I mean COMPLETE 180 from the docile gentle uber concerned mommie ive been with last 4 weeks. He was screaming for dear life i had to save him. Cleaned up the catnip & stayed with them all while she writhed on the floor. Another kitten came near & she began playing with him gently then boom! Starting ripping into him holding tightly. I snatched then apart & seperated her for 5 minutes.... she cried &cried as has been an amazingly attentive mommie. Allowed her back & stayed with them next HOUR letting her chew my hand & arm up to "get it out".... the effects pretty much wore off in the first 15 minutes or so, but writting this to help anyone just hold off on the herb w nursing mommies... why take the chance? It was horrible & the first kitten hid for a while :( I looked him over and besides looking like he got his ass kicked, he's not injured that I can tell, but glad i was there!! I had no idea this could happen. And by searching around on the web, cannot find anyone saying similar. So, be super careful.

Posted by: Justeen | July 9, 2018 3:55 PM    Report this comment

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