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10 Best Cat Foods for Nursing Mother Cats – 2024 Reviews & Top Picks

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

red cat eat wet food from a bright bowl

If you have a pregnant feline, you may be wondering what you should be feeding her. Don’t worry! We’re here to help.

It is an exciting time when your kitty is expecting, but you don’t want to lose sight of the importance of providing the best nutrition possible to both your feline and her babies. Perhaps surprisingly, a mother cat loses, on average, 40% of her weight after giving birth and during lactation.1 Due to this, veterinarians recommend feeding both the mother and her kittens high-quality, high-protein, and calorie-rich kitten food.

In this article are reviews of the best cat food for nursing mothers on the market today, so your mother cat and kittens can receive the maximum nutrition during this precious and delicate time.

Disclaimer: The foods reviewed here were chosen because they have certain characteristics that might help with some of the causes or consequences of this medical condition. However, they are not a medical treatment or a substitute for medical treatment. Keep in mind that each medical case is different, and what works for some pets may not work for others. Your veterinarian is the right person to advise you on the best diet for your pet’s case.

 

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites of 2024

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Smalls Ground Bird Fresh Cat Food Subscription Service Smalls Ground Bird Fresh Cat Food Subscription Service
  • Healthy veggies
  • High in protein
  • All life stages
  • Budget Buy
    Second place
    Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Wet Cat Food Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Wet Cat Food
  • Highly digestible
  • Has DHA for brain development
  • Contains 81% moisture for hydration
  • Third place
    Nutro Wholesome Chicken Dry Cat Food Nutro Wholesome Chicken Dry Cat Food
  • High in calories and protein
  • No GMOs, corn, wheat, or soy
  • No by-products or preservatives
  • Blue Buffalo Healthy Chicken Kitten Food Blue Buffalo Healthy Chicken Kitten Food
  • High-quality protein
  • Includes taurine and fatty acids
  • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient
  • Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Food Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Food
  • High calories
  • Rich in protein
  • Real chicken is first ingredient
  • The 10 Best Cat Foods for Nursing Mother Cats

    1. Smalls Ground Bird Fresh Cat Food Subscription — Best Overall

    a tabby cat looking at a bowl of smalls smooth bird recipe

    Calorie content: 1,220 kcal/kg
    Crude protein: 15%
    Wet or dry: Wet / Fresh
    Flavor: Chicken

    Dry and canned cat food are staples of most cats’ diets, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only options. A Smalls Fresh Cat Food Subscription is a healthy alternative for nursing mamas. We found Smalls Ground Bird to be the best overall food for nursing mother cats because of its high protein and fat content, healthy ingredients, and nutritious extras. This recipe is made from chicken thighs and breasts along with a few added ingredients, and it comes in at a dry-matter basis of 49% protein and 45% fat. This is a perfect nutrient-dense formula for helping your mama cat fuel her growing kittens.

    The food is also high in moisture, which is ideal for helping your cat produce milk and stay hydrated. The meat is supplemented with veggies, including peas, green beans, and kale. Freshly prepared and lightly cooked, this food will be a hit. Although we love this food, it isn’t for everyone—Smalls food is on the more expensive end.

    Even with the higher price point, we still feel Smalls Fresh Ground Bird is the best cat food for nursing mother cats.

    Pros
    • 49% protein, 45% fat DMB
    • High in moisture
    • Healthy veggies like kale
    • Freshly prepared and lightly cooked
    Cons
    • Slightly more expensive than regular kibble

    2. Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Wet Cat Food — Budget Buy

    Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Ultra-Soft Mousse in Sauce Wet Cat Food for New Kittens and Nursing or Pregnant Mother Cats

    Calorie content: 133 kcal/5.1-ounce can
    Crude protein: 9%
    Wet or dry: Wet
    Flavor: Chicken

    Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Wet Cat Food is specially formulated for pregnant and nursing mother cats and kittens. The formula contains 81% moisture for optimal hydration and DHA for healthy brain development for the new kitten kiddos. The highly digestible prebiotics and proteins benefit both cat mothers and babies, and the pate texture helps the little ones eat comfortably. It helps with digestion and gets the kittens off to a great start. This food comes in a dry formula too.

    It does contain pork by-products and wheat gluten, so be aware if your felines suffer from any food allergies. The cans can be a little flimsy, so they may bend or become misshapen.

    You can choose between a 3-ounce pack of six, a 3-ounce pack of 12, a 3-ounce case of 24, or a 5.1-ounce case of 24, which makes it a great value. Mother and baby kittens love it, and with the variety of order options, this food comes in as the best cat food for nursing mother cats for the money.

    Pros
    • Contains 81% moisture for hydration
    • Highly digestible
    • Has DHA for brain development
    Cons
    • Contains pork by-products
    • Contains wheat gluten
    • Flimsy cans

    3. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken Kitten Food

    Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Kitten Dry Cat Food

    Calorie content: 439 kcal/cup
    Crude protein: 36%
    Wet or dry: Dry
    Flavor: Chicken

    Nutro Wholesome Essentials Chicken Kitten Food is perfect if you’re looking for a pure formulated cat food. While high in calories and proteins, it has no GMOs, corn, wheat, or soy, and no by-products or preservatives. It contains high-quality protein (real chicken) and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids to support growth and development. It also includes calcium to round off the nutrients for strong bones and joints.

    Some cats and kittens don’t like the food, and some consumers state that the pellets are too hard. It also contains peas, so it may not be suitable if your mother cat has a pea allergy.

    Most cats and kittens love this food, though, and it’s easily digestible.  You also have the choice between a 3-pound and 5-pound bag or a 5-pound bag bundle of two.

    Pros
    • No by-products or preservatives
    • No GMOs, corn, wheat, or soy
    • High in calories and protein
    Cons
    • Contains peas
    • Pellets may be too hard for some cats
    • Some cats don’t like the taste

    4. Blue Buffalo Healthy Growth Chicken Kitten Food

    Blue Buffalo Healthy Growth Kitten Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food

    Calorie content: 439 kcal/cup
    Crude protein: 36%
    Wet or dry: Dry
    Flavor: Deboned chicken

    Deboned chicken is the first ingredient in Blue Buffalo Healthy Growth Chicken Kitten Food, and it also features garden vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, such as oatmeal, barley, and brown rice. It provides essential fatty acids for brain and eye development, such as arachidonic acid and DHA. The formula also includes taurine, which is an amino acid responsible for eye and heart health.

    It can be a little pricey, but with the price comes the fantastic ingredients that get your kittens off to a terrific start. It also contains peas, so avoid it if the mother cat has a pea allergy. We should note that some consumers state their kittens don’t like it.

    It comes in 3-, 5-, or 7-pound bags or a 7-pound bag bundle of two.

    Pros
    • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient
    • High-quality protein
    • Includes taurine and fatty acids
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Contains peas
    • Some kittens won’t eat it

    5. Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Dry Cat Food

    Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula Dry Cat Food

    Calorie content: 462 kcal/cup
    Crude protein: 45%
    Wet or dry: Dry
    Flavor: Chicken

    Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Dry Cat Food food is rich in protein and high in calories and contains the nourishment your nursing cat mother needs for her young. Veterinary recommended, this food is chock-full of vitamins and minerals, and real chicken stands out as the first ingredient. It has 45% protein, which makes it perfect for the increased protein intake recommended for nursing mother cats. It comes in three sizes: 3.5-, 7-, and 16-pound bags. The lack of fillers adds to the nutritional value of this food, and it’s also available in wet food.

    It does contain chicken by-products, corn gluten, and peas, so it may not be suitable for those kitties with certain food allergies.

    Pros
    • Real chicken is first ingredient
    • Rich in protein
    • High calories
    Cons
    • Contains chicken by-products
    • Contain peas
    • Contains corn gluten

    6. Halo Holistic Salmon & Whitefish Kitten Dry Cat Food

    Halo Holistic Wild Salmon & Whitefish Recipe Grain-Free Kitten Dry Cat Food

    Calorie content: 426 kcal/cup
    Crude protein: 33%
    Wet or dry: Dry
    Flavor: Salmon

    Halo Holistic Salmon & Whitefish Kitten Dry Cat Food gives your nursing mother cat and kittens a flavor other than chicken. Salmon is the first ingredient, followed by white fish. It has no GMOs, fillers, artificial ingredients, or preservatives. This food is full of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and it also helps kittens with sensitive stomachs. This cat food is made in the U.S.A. from quality ingredients and MSC-certified fish.

    It comes in 3-, 6-, or 10-pound bags but can be on the pricey side. Some kittens don’t like the taste either.

    Pros
    • Salmon is the first ingredient
    • Made from MSC-certified fish
    • Suitable for kittens with sensitive stomachs
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Some cats won’t eat it

    7. Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Kitten Dry Cat Food

    Hill's Science Diet Indoor Kitten Dry Cat Food

    Calorie content: 544 kcal/cup
    Crude protein: 5%
    Wet or dry: Dry
    Flavor: Chicken

    Hill’s Science Diet Indoor Kitten Dry Cat Food is specially formulated for nursing mother cats and kittens. Made in the U.S.A., this food is made from quality ingredients with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. It’s complete and balanced to promote a healthy digestive system and contains essential antioxidants and vitamins. The added fish oil provides natural DHA for healthy brain and eye development, and the high calorie and protein content will give the nursing mother the strength she needs. Hill’s Science is the number-one vet-recommended cat food.

    The formula has wheat and corn gluten but offers a 100% money-back guarantee. It comes in either a 3.5- or 7-pound bag and can be a little pricey.

    Pros
    • Vet recommended
    • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
    Cons
    • Contains wheat and corn gluten
    • Available in only two bag sizes

    8. Iams Proactive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food

    Iams Proactive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food

    Calorie content: 483 kcal/cup
    Crude protein: 33%
    Wet or dry: Dry
    Flavor: Real chicken

    Iams is a popular brand of pet food and has been around since 1946. It is known for producing high-quality, protein-based products and formulating recipes that target specific needs and activity levels. Real chicken is the first ingredient in Iams Proactive Health Kitten Dry Cat Food, which is designed for nursing mothers and kittens, and it is followed by omega-3, prebiotics, DHA, and vitamin E. It’s 100% balanced and complete and omits any artificial preservatives. This cat food comes in a 3.5-, 7-, or 16-pound bag for a reasonable price.

    Some cat owners state that their cats won’t eat this food.

    Pros
    • Contains real chicken
    • High protein and calorie content
    • Comes in three bag sizes
    Cons
    • Some cats won’t eat this food

    9. Earthborn Holistic Monterey Canned Cat Food

    Earthborn Holistic Monterey Medley Grain-Free Natural Canned Cat & Kitten Food

    Calorie content: 121 kcal/5.5-ounce can, 66 kcal/3-ounce can
    Crude protein: 12%
    Wet or dry: Wet
    Flavor: Fish broth

    Earthborn Holistic Monterey Canned Cat Food provides another alternative to chicken. Fish broth is the first ingredient and offers plenty of hydration, followed by skipjack tuna, mackerel, and potatoes. Most cats love fish, so this could be a good option if you have a feline nursing mother that loves the taste. The shredded food texture is gluten, grain, and pea free and aids in digestion for sensitive stomachs. This holistic formula is packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals for guaranteed nutritional value for your nursing mother cat and her kittens.

    If your cats don’t like fish, this food is not recommended because the fishy smell can be a little potent.

    Pros
    • Gives plenty of hydration
    • Gluten, grain, and pea free
    Cons
    • Food can have a strong fish smell

    10. Wellness Complete Health Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Wellness Complete Health Kitten Formula Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    Calorie content: 97 kcal/can
    Crude protein: 11%
    Wet or dry: Wet
    Flavor: Chicken

    Wellness Complete Health Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is packed with protein from chicken, contains no corn, wheat, or soy, and is pea-free for kitties with food allergies. It comes in a case of 24 3-ounce cans at a great price. It’s loaded with antioxidants, such as cranberries, vitamins, and minerals, and has flaxseed and fish oil for omegas. Made in the U.S.A., this food is free from artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The specialized formula promotes healthy skin and coat and strong teeth and gums, is highly digestible, and provides taurine for growth and development. Each can contains 78% moisture to keep mother cat and kiddos well hydrated.

    Some cats may not like the pate consistency, and some consumers state the food has a potent smell.

    Pros
    • No artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors
    • 78% moisture in each can
    • Chicken is first ingredient
    Cons
    • Some cats don’t like the consistency
    • May have a potent smell

     

    Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Cat Foods for Nursing Mother Cats

    Now that we’ve discussed the top reviews of the best cat food for nursing mother cats, you’re probably still left with some questions. Let’s take a deeper look and investigate important things to consider when searching for cat food for a nursing mother cat.

    grey mother cat nursing kittens
    Image Credit: Rashid Valitov, Shutterstock

    Wet vs. Dry

    You’ve noticed by now that you have the option between wet canned food and dry kibble. The biggest difference here is that dry food can sit out for longer periods of time. Wet food, however, will spoil quickly and is not a food you can leave out throughout the day. Wet food also offers more water, as most cans contain a high amount of moisture. Wet food also has fewer calories than dry kibble, making this an important factor because the mother cat needs an increase in calorie intake during this time. Dry kibble contains more carbohydrates, but the nutritional value is usually greater. If your mother cat likes wet food, you can always add dry kibble to boost the taste.

    Ingredients

    The ingredients are always listed from the first to the last, meaning the first ingredient is dominant in the formula. For example, if real chicken is listed first and rosemary extract last, it contains mainly chicken and very little rosemary extract. Cats are carnivores, so it’s important to make sure the food you pick is high in animal-based proteins, such as chicken, chicken liver, turkey, pork, or salmon.

    While providing our feline companions with high-quality food is paramount, selecting the right food and water bowl is equally important. The modern yet practical design of our Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl combines cat-catered features, like whisker-friendly shallow dishes and slight elevation, with a contemporary style aimed at protecting your floors from messy eating and drinking. The NomNom is entirely dishwasher safe and was thoughtfully created with your cat’s health and well-being in mind. 

    Hepper 360 Cat Feeder, Stainless Steel, Anti-Chew...
    169 Reviews
    Hepper 360 Cat Feeder, Stainless Steel, Anti-Chew...
    • NO MESS - The 360° tray on this cat food and water bowl set has a raised design to catch and...
    • WHISKER FRIENDLY - Shallow and wide metal containers with flat bottoms ensure your kitty can enjoy...

    Should I Avoid By-Products?

    This is a question many cat owners have, so let’s dive in. By-products in pet food are ground-up carcasses that may include feet, necks, bones, and intestines. According to experts, by-products contain vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, and copper, which may not be present in real chicken. The short answer is, no, you don’t have to avoid by-products because they do hold nutritional value. When in doubt, though, check with your vet.

    Cost

    If you’re on a budget, the cost is a big factor. Luckily there are plenty of options that have optimal nutrition and won’t break your pocketbook. Wet food is a little more expensive than dry kibble, and dry kibble offers more choices of bag sizes.

    Nutritional Content

    As we’ve mentioned, the mother cat will need more calories and protein during this time, so aim for high-calorie and high-protein food. If your mother cat has any food allergies, make sure the food doesn’t contain anything harmful. Also, make sure the food has omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian.

    Cat Eating Tuna
    Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

    Final Verdict

    For the overall best cat food for nursing mothers, we recommend Smalls fresh cat food for its high calorie and protein content, and quality ingredients. Royal Canin Mother & Babycat Ultra-Soft Mousse Wet Cat Food is our budget pick with its variety of purchase options, nutrition, and prebiotics.

    We hope you’ve enjoyed these reviews of the best cat food for nursing mother cats. Now go and enjoy the precious moments with mother cat and babies!

    See also:


    Featured Image Credit: Elizabett, Shutterstock

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