The breastfeeding of the cat: what the mother cat needs and what we can do for her in such a delicate moment from feeding to care.
Pregnancy is a very delicate moment in the life of every mother, be it human or animal. When the mother has given birth to her children, a rather tiring period awaits her, namely that of breastfeeding the cat. Precisely because it is a demanding period we will have to make our mother feel our closeness, so that she does not miss anything and also to avoid and solve any problems. We will therefore see how to take care of her post-partum nutrition and how to help her in the initial phase of feeding the little kittens.
Newborn kittens: general information
When we see the mother cat lying down and all the kittens clinging to her udders, we would never think how demanding and tiring that moment can be for her from a nutritional point of view. In fact, erroneously, it is thought that after giving birth the cat no longer needs to eat as much because she will not have to ‘feed’ the fetuses inside her uterus; instead, breastfeeding is equally onerous from this point of view.
Babies born weigh around 100 grams each at birth and will take around 30 grams of milk to meet their daily needs. If at the time of delivery the cat gave birth to at least four kittens and each of them has the same nutritional needs, we should calculate at least 120 grams of milk for a period ranging from 40 days to two months: in short, the mother needs energy. !
We could say that during the lactation period the cat needs to be fed even more and better than during pregnancy to ensure that she can keep fit and meet the needs of all her kittens, to make them grow healthy and strong.
Kittens at the udders: they do not drink milk
When the kittens latch onto their mother’s breasts they won’t actually drink her milk or at least not right away. In fact, the first substance they will ingest will be colostrum: it is a thick and very nourishing liquid. In fact, it contains proteins, fats, minerals but above all the antibodies that will serve them to grow you know and in shape with an almost total protection from diseases.
The time for breastfeeding does not exceed 20 minutes, with intervals of about 2-3 hours. As with the woman, the mother cat should produce as much milk as is necessary to satisfy all of her kittens at least up to the fifth week of life of the kittens. Subsequently, the amount of milk available will decrease until it disappears completely.
The kitten that attaches itself to its mother’s breast will be autonomous in choosing when and how to stop this activity: weaning a kitten early could induce serious behavioral problems when it is an adult. So better give them the freedom to choose!
Cat breastfeeding: what to feed her
Therefore clarified that the mother cat absolutely needs nutritious foods even (and above all) after giving birth, let’s see which are the most suitable foods in this equally delicate phase. Certainly it will be necessary to change its usual diet: if during pregnancy its energy requirement has gone from 100% to 150%, it will be necessary to maintain this high standard.
Foods rich in proteins are recommended, such as the usual croquettes, but also fish and grated fruit. To the usual baby food we could also add vitamin C and food supplements based on calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. The cat must always be hydrated with water and soups or meat broths. A good idea is to leave the food available to mom so that she can eat as much and when she wants. As for consistency, it is better to prefer moist foods.
Cat breastfeeding: possible problems
Unfortunately, as with pregnancy, even during the breastfeeding phase there could be problems that will inevitably also affect the nourishment of the newborn babies. The difficulties of this phase are basically three: breast infections, poor milk production and refusal to breastfeed.
- Breast Infections: When a kitten latches on to the breast, it may not be able to measure the strength of its ‘bite’ well. In fact, the muzzle of the kitten that latches on could cause small wounds that tend to become infected. In fact, it can happen that one breast is redder than the others and swells, causing pain. It is obvious that in that case the mother refuses to breastfeed because this causes her suffering. We should seek the advice of the veterinarian, who may prescribe antibiotics to heal the part.
- If she produces little milk: unfortunately it is quite common for the cat to be unable to produce a sufficient quantity of milk to feed her kittens. In this case the only solution to be adopted is that of artificial feeding: the milk must however be specific for cats. We never think of giving them cow’s milk because it would be a very serious mistake with dangerous consequences for their health.
- She refuses to breastfeed: in reality this is a ‘false’ problem because it will be normal and natural for the mother cat to drive away her young. In fact, she will decide the weaning of the kittens, since she will believe that there is no longer any need. Of course this must take place no earlier than 40 days after their birth. In the event that the mother cat shows herself opposed to breastfeeding from the beginning, it will be necessary to resort to artificial milk again: we will find it easily in the pharmacy and it will have to be given in bottles.
If we have to take care of the feeding of the kitten with the bottle, we make sure to keep it upright and never lying on its stomach, because it could suffocate. When he has finished eating, we massage the abdominal area to stimulate digestion.