FEEDING A PREGNANT AND LACTATING QUEEN
Gestation lasts about 66 days in the queen, and there are usually 3 to 5 kittens per litter. At birth, each kitten weighs around 110 g.
Contrary to what happens in the bitch, the queen's bodyweight increases from the beginning of the gestation. Up to the 40th day, it is due to the storage of reserves that will be used up at the end of the gestation and during the lactation. Then, the bodyweight gain corresponds to the kittens growth.
Consequently, the food consumption of the queen increases normally all along the pregnancy. As soon as she has been mated, she must be fed a high-fat diet. This enrichment improves the survival rate of the new-born kittens. One must control also, that the queen's diet contains enough of an undispensable amino-acid, the taurine (minimum advised in dry-food: 0,1 %). A taurine deficiency in the queen would induce serious consequences on the survival and the ultimate growth of the kittens.
Caution: the food must not be acidified. Excessive acidification might harm the normal development of the skeleton of the kittens.
K34 is a perfect answer for the queen's nutritional requirements. It will be distributed in 2 - 3 meals per day, (except if the queen is used to spread her consumption over the day). The rationing will step up of about 10 % per week, until the 7 - 8th week of pregnancy. At that time, the queen receives 70 % more energy than before mating. At the end of the pregnancy, she starts using the reserves accumulated at the beginning. The consumption does not go up any more, it can even decrease.
The bodyweight of the queen must be checked carefully during the pregnancy. At the end, the queen should not have gained more than 40 % of her own bodyweight. If the queen is overweight at the end of the gestation, a difficult delivery becomes more likely, with a risk of caesarean surgery. Moreover, overfeeding the queen tends to diminue the number of live kittens.
A queen can produce one and a half up to twice her own bodyweight in milk during the lactation period. Plus, the protein and fat concentration of this milk is very high. During the lactation, the energetic expenses of the queen are way higher than during the pregnancy. A lactating queen requires at least twice more energy than usually, sometimes even 3 times more if the litter is very large. However the queen is fed, the diet alone does not provide for all the energetic requirements. After delivery, the queen still weighs 20 % more than during maintenance. This weight in excess, formed by stored fat, will be used up until the weaning.
After kittens' birth, the lactating queen should be able to consume as much as she wants of a high-energy (= high-fat) and concentrated in all the undispensable nutrients. The kitten food, K34, already fed during the gestation, is the most advisable for the lactation. The queen must also have a free access to clear and fresh water: dehydration, even slight, would affect the milk production.
Evolution of the bodyweight and the energetic consumption
of a queen during the reproduction period
The same diet will be given to the queen until the weaning of the kittens, and even later, if she needs to get back into shape. As soon as the optimum bodyweight is reached again, the maintenance diet will be progressively reintroduced.
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