Feeding your cat the best diet possible is a top priority for all owners. Your cat’s diet will be the fuel that powers their lives. But diet composition for cats changes through their life stages, and sometimes it’s more complicated than just kitten, adult, and senior stages.
For mother cats, they have a whole new range of needs to meet to support themselves through the challenges of nursing as well as provide their kittens with the best possible start to life. A good nursing diet will ensure a mother cat stays in good health, and she will pass these benefits onto her babies.
For your convenience and peace of mind, we have reviewed many different cat foods to compile a top 10 list of best foods for nursing mother cat to give you a great place to start in choosing the right diet for your cat. Each product is AAFCO approved to be safe and comes with many positive reviews from real cat owners.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
The 10 Best Cat Foods For Nursing Mother Cats – Reviews & Top Picks 2021
1. Purina Pro Plan Kitten – Best Overall
Our best overall cat food for nursing mother cats is Purina Pro Plan Kitten. This product hits all the requirements to support the energy requirements of nursing. This grain-free recipe is packed full of protein and healthy fats. The lack of grain, wheat, soy, or corn fillers makes room for more of these great diet components.
The recipe makes it dense in calories so you can ensure your mother cat is able to consume enough energy to support both herself and her kittens with normal-sized meals. It also has all the extra additives for healthy development to be passed onto your cat’s kittens. Reviews widely say that cats adore this prodict and even the pickiest of felines love it.
After reading many reviews, there is very little negative being said about this diet. A small handful of owners say their cats aren’t a fan of the taste, but we all know that each cat has their own preferences. It is also on the higher end of the price scale for similar products, but it is definitely worth it.
2. Iams ProActive Health Kitten – Best Value
If you’re looking for something a bit more affordable than our top pick above, this may be the product for you. Iams Proactive Health (kitten formula) is our pick for best cat food for nursing mothers for the money.
It has real chicken as the first ingredient so utilizes this as a great source of protein. It also contains many healthy fatty acids such as omega-3s and omega-6s. These support kitten growth and development as well as keep your mother cat in great condition during the nursing period.
Past customers really liked that the size of the kibble was small enough that young kittens could start to nibble on it. Feeding it as a diet for your mother cat could also help her kittens adjust to solid food when they are ready to wean.
While this product is both functional and affordable, it does contain corn filler products in its recipe. These are of lower quality than other ingredients but won’t do any harm with their small amounts in this food.
3. SquarePet Grain-Free Turkey & Chicken – Premium Choice
This recipe from SquarePet is very high in protein, 96% of which is derived from animal sources. Made with turkey, chicken, eggs, and salmon this energy-dense diet is a great choice to meet the high energy demands of a nursing mother.
High in calories, this food will support all the nutritional requirements for both a mother cat.The high levels of protein and fat will support her milk production to help her kittens get the best start in life.
While this product is on the higher end of the price range, without any grain filler ingredients it’s packed full of only the very best ingredients. It also features a collection of real fruits and vegetables for those extra vitamins and minerals.
However, this product is an adult formula so it will not be suitable for continued use when your cat’s kittens begin eating solid foods. This will power Mumma cat through her pregnancy and nursing, then you will need to find a kitten formula as your kittens begin to wean.
4. Royal Canin Mother & Babycat
Royal Canin are well known for being a premium cat food brand. They are particularly popular for producing specialized diets for unique cat needs. This product is designed to support pregnant cats, nursing cats, and young kittens. Meaning if you chose this diet, then it can support your cats through months of different stages.
The protein, fat, and calories are all at high enough levels to support the energy requirements of nursing. In addition, this recipe features added prebiotics and antioxidants to support digestive health and immune systems, respectively. This extra support will benefit both the mother cat and the growing kittens.
While this brand tends to be on the expensive side of cat foods, they have many happy customers whose breeding cats have done well on this recipe. It has proven to support their milk production to provide for hungry kittens, but also to support the general well-being of the nursing mother.
5. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Kitten
Nutro is a great choice for owners looking for more natural ingredients in their cat’s food. This recipe includes zero artificial additives, instead, it utilizes natural additives for flavor, color and preservation. All the ingredients are also free from genetic modification.
Nutritionally, this diet fits the bill to support most nursing cats. It’s high in protein in fat to support the demands on her body. However, the calorie content is lower than some of our top picks so may not be suitable for cats with very large litters who will require food very dense in energy.
Additives also support a growing kitten to ensure healthy development. Some negative reviewers did not like the texture of the kibble, as it was sometimes difficult for young kittens to consume.
6. Natural Balance Original Ultra Chicken & Salmon
This product from Natural Balance is designed to support cats of all ages. Yes from kittens to adults, all the way to seniors. It’s a delicate balance of ingredients that offers all the vital nutritional support for all stages of a cat’s life – including pregnancy and nursing. They even provide a guide to feeding a nursing cat.
The formula contains all the classic kitten supporting ingredients such as essential fatty acids for prime development. It also has the added benefits of natural fiber and antioxidants to support bodily functions. This way you can continue to utilize this same diet as your cat’s kittens begin to wean off her milk and onto a solid diet.
However, some long-time customers have recently turned away from this product due to a recipe change. While it did not change the nutritional make-up very much, it seems to be less palatable for picky eaters.
7. Hill’s Science Diet Kitten
If you’re looking to add wet food to a part of your nursing cat’s diet, this product can contribute to a balanced diet. Its wet texture means more moisture, resulting in lower protein and fat. However, the moisture content can support your cat’s hydration, particularly since as she nurses, she may take fewer visits to her water bowl.
The recipe features high-quality proteins for easy digestion. The ingredients are designed to support healthy kitten growth and development so fed to a nursing mother; she will pass on all these great nutrients to her babies.
While the texture of this food is palatable, some reviewers say their cats or kittens have turned their noses up at it. We recommend ordering a sample size before a full purchase in case your cat does not enjoy it.
8. Fancy Feast Gourmet Naturals Kitten
Another tasty wet option for your nursing cat and her kittens. This pate texture food is palatable for your mother cat but will also be a great starter food for kittens learning to eat solid foods.
This recipe contains only high-quality ingredients and no by-products, making it easily digestible. This means your mother cat does not need to spend excess energy to digest and utilize the nutrients in this food, making her milk production efficient.
However, this product does contain dairy in the form of cow’s milk. While this can offer a calcium boost for growing kittens, it can upset sensitive stomachs. This diet will be best fed in conjunction with a high-protein kibble.
9. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Kitten
This specialized product from Royal Canin is unfortunately only available to owners via a vet prescription. It is specialized for supporting digestive health for cats with sensitive stomachs. For this reason, this product would be a great pick for a nursing mother with such sensitivities. Balancing the demands of nursing, providing for growing kittens, and a mother with sensitivities can be challenging, but you may find this product well suited.
It is energy dense to support the energy demands of the mother cat as she provides for her young. It also features added fibers and prebiotics to support her stomach.
10. Kitten Chow Nurture Muscle & Brain Development
This kitten formula from Purina is a good affordable choice to support a nursing mother cat and her kittens. It would suit as a kitten diet for weaning onto solid foods. It is especially high in protein for a quality source of energy.
It does, however, feature by-products as the main source of proteins. While this does not harm, it may be harder for a mother cat to digest efficiently to turn it into useful nutrients for her young. In addition, it contains many filler ingredients. Regardless, for a reasonably sized litter and a healthy mother cat, this diet can be perfectly fine as a diet to support nursing.
Buyer’s Guide: Feeding A Nursing Cat
A Nursing Cats Nutritional Requirements
A nursing cat has some extreme energy demands on her body. Not only does she need to maintain her own internal functions and body condition, but she also needs to produce milk that can support the rapid and healthy growth and development of her kittens.
The larger the size of her litter, the more stress this can be put on her body. Her usual maintenance diet will not be suitable for her during her pregnancy and nursing periods, as it will not give her the energy and the essential building blocks her body needs.
Protein is the key nutritional component to look for in regular cat food, but this is even more important for a nursing cat. Protein is made up of chains of amino acids that are the key components to all her bodily functions. A diet high in protein will ensure she has all the ingredients she needs to process all her usual functions as well as the demanding process of milk production.
High-quality animal proteins should be chosen over by-product proteins and plant proteins as they will be in the most digestible form. The easier the protein is to digest, the more energy-efficient your mother cat can be.
Fat is one of those words that tend to incite fear in us! But for cats fats are absolutely essential. Fats are highly digestible and highly concentrated sources of energy for cats. High levels of fat in a nursing cat’s diet will mean she has plenty of energy that is easy for her to access and use. Dense forms of energy like carbohydrates will require more time and energy for her to digest and she will get less benefit from them because of this.
For a nursing cat, she will need more calories than general maintenance. The calorie density of her food is important as she will have to eat a lot more low-calorie food to reach her energy requirements. She may not be physically able to consume enough food to support herself if the food is low in calories.
Food high in calories will provide an energy-dense diet for her to utilize in nursing. Meaning she will be able to support her own condition as well as facilitate the growth of her kittens.
Fiber and Prebiotics
Natural fiber and prebiotic sources can be beneficial for a nursing cat as they will support her digestive health. It’s no use having great energy sources of protein and fat if she struggles to digest them.
Good gut health will be vital for your nursing cat to make the most of the important nutrients in her diet and efficiently digest and utilize energy and vitamins for milk production.
Antioxidants are key to maintaining a healthy immune system. Nursing cats’ bodies are under immense stress from the struggle of supporting themselves and some little ones. This stress can cause their immune system to take a hit and make them more prone to becoming hill. A strong immune system is also vital for new kittens as their bodies adjust to the world around them.
For a nursing mother, you should look for a diet that has added antioxidants to support her immune system. In cat food, you can see these antioxidants like vitamin E and beta-carotene. They also found in the addition of real fruits and vegetables – such as cranberries, blueberries, or kale.
Kitten Food is Best for Nursing Cats
So, we can see that a nursing mother needs a diet that provides her with much more energy and vitamins and minerals. Her regular diet will not suffice. Fortunately, this diet can be provided for her by simply feeding her kitten formulated food.
Kitten food is higher in protein, fat, and calories to support the energy needs of growth and development. These diets will also generally meet the energy requirements of a nursing cat.
Kitten food is also fortified in essential fatty acids for development such as DHA and EPA. These fats will be naturally synthesized in cat’s milk and kittens will require them through their mother’s milk. Feeding your nursing cat kitten food can help support her levels of these fats to ensure her kittens get the developmental support they need.
How Much Food Does a Nursing Cat Need?
In addition to a higher energy diet, she may need to generally eat more food than she used to. As cat owners, we are all used to setting set schedules and feeding amounts, but for your nursing cat, you should not look to restrict this.
Basically, we should let her eat as much as she likes as she will only eat as much as she needs to support herself and her babies. When the kittens are very young, she can be given constant access to feed, and she can monitor he own feeding. Due to the demands of nursing, she will likely eat small portions, but often.
As the kittens age, they will become interested in solid foods. At this point, you may wish to remove your nursing mother’s constant supply of food to stop the kittens from getting into it. If her diet is what you wish to wean the kittens onto, then this is less important. They may benefit from getting to explore their mother’s food in their own way.
When it comes to weaning you may want to begin restricting your mother cat’s food just a little bit. This will reduce her milk production, so she doesn’t become uncomfortable as her kittens begin eating solid foods.
Our best overall choice is Purina Pro Plan Kitten formula. This food is super high in protein, fat, and calories to provide an energy-dense diet to support your nursing cat. For a more affordable option, Iams ProActive Health for Kittens is our best value choice, offering great nutrition in an affordable product.
We hope that our research and reviews have been helpful for you to find a great product or at least a place to start for your nursing cat. Your cat will be able to support her own health as well and develop healthy little kittens with your help!
Featured Image Credit: Rashid Valitov, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.