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Cats during gestation and lactation fed with canned food ad libitum: energy and protein intake, development of body weight and body composition


Dr. B. Wichert, Institute of Animal Nutrition, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstr. 260, 8057 Zürich, Switzerland. Tel: +41 446358834; Fax: +41 446358932; E-mail:


The NRC recommendations for cats for energy and protein supply during gestation and lactation are based on limited data. This study aimed to answer the question: Can the energy requirement be met with canned food or is the volume restrictive? Therefore, balance trials were conducted in 10 queens before mating, during the 4th and 7th week of gestation and during the 2nd and 6th week of lactation. The cats were fed with canned food ad libitum. Additionally, the body composition of the queens was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (Dexa) before mating, after parturition and after weaning. Eight of 10 cats presented increased body fat content and lean body mass during gestation. The weight loss during lactation led to a loss of lean body mass, but only six cats lost body fat of widely differing amounts. It was evident that the queens’ dry matter intake was consistent with that of queens fed ad libitum with dry food. The cats lost lean body mass during lactation and had negative protein balances in the 2nd week of lactation. This seems to be physiological in early lactation. Nevertheless, the protein recommendations for lactation seem to be too low.