Pregnant or nursing cats are known as 'queens', and they can surely live up to their title. You should pay special attention to your cats' nutritional needs during pregnancy and nursing.
As with humans, pregnant cats have considerable weight gain and proper nutrition is essential throughout pregnancy. The energy needs of your pregnant cats should gradually increase so that, by the end of the gestation period (9 weeks), they are consuming 50% more than their normal amount of calories. Provide adequate exercise, as well as keeping them safe from outside dangers and disease.
In the final two weeks of pregnancy, you can help your cats prepare for labour (sometimes called queening in cats). Find a quiet and secluded place in your home to create a queening area, with soft bedding. Ideally in a familiar part of the house but somewhere that they will not be disturbed. A cardboard box with easily laundered blankets or towels is perfect. The nesting box will most likely need to be changed at least once a day and you'll want to use bedding material that is soft yet washable.
Sometimes called queening, labour is generally a smooth process in cats. The first signs may be that they are restless and may vocalise more. Monitor your cats at regular intervals but try not to disturb them as much as possible. Knowing the number of the kittens ahead of time will help you monitor their progress during the queening process. Although most cats deliver without need for human assistance, problems may arise which require professional veterinary assistance, VCS advises to contact the vet immediately if your cats are pushing continuously for more than 20 minutes and no kitten is to be seen. They may have trouble in delivery which is an emergency.
Pregnant cats lose weight after giving birth and their nutritional needs increase dramatically. The kittens are dependent on the queen's nourishment so make sure to feed the queen with healthy and well-balanced meals, such as a high-protein and energy-dense kitten food, and increase the number of meals during the nursing period. Water intake is also important for milk volume and a steady supply of clean and fresh water should be provided all day since the queen needs to stay hydrated whilst nursing the kittens.
Featured image by Irene Lasus