Our cat had her first litter last night. She's been away from the kittens most of the first day while they were sleeping. Early this morning, I noticed she tried to jump on some furniture, and she failed as a result of her weakness. She's also very vocal...

She has 90% of the symptoms of milk fever (postparturient hypocalcemia).

I called the local vet and they didn't even know what milk fever is.

The visit and the labs cost too much for me right now, as I had two medical emergencies during COVID-19 pandemic over the last month and I have been unable to work normally.

I'm afraid for my cat's life, and her three babies.

My main question: Is there any way to help her from home?

Dad gave her cow's milk yesterday, and so did mom. They really have no clue.
They tell me she's fine and to leave her alone.
They tell me they have seen many cats have babies, to just leave the cat alone.

I'm looking for any answers on how I can help her during her nursing period from home, since I cannot afford the vet (I doubt they will even see her because I can't pay for the lab tests).

Is it a bad idea to give her cow's milk?
Is there anything else that I can do?

She's been hyperventilating for the past hour while nursing the kittens.

Any help or tips would be appreciated.

  • I have a cat that has had 6 babies and she is very vocal but for the post part she is fine she just doesn't get full so I am trying to kitten food diet and see how she does Apr 11, 2021 at 16:24

4 Answers 4


I do not have a cat, nor the knowledge about them. I only googled for milk fever in mammals and then for adding calcium to cat's food.

The cause of milk fever is the systemic calcium deficiency (also known as hypocalcemia, which simple means there is not enough calcium in the body). More details could be found in a relevant Wikipedia article. It is mostly known for its occurrence in dairy cows. In the past, people used to blow air into the nipples and it helped. (Blowing into the nipples increased the pressure inside, which in turn reduced the milk production). But now that the cause is known, the cows are given calcium infusions, and they get enough calcium while they are being pregnant to avoid the milk fever.

Cats in nature get their calcium from the bones and teeth of their prey. For homemade cat food, there are additions you can buy or you could use the egg shells of ecological chicken eggs. You could grind them into powder and add it to the normal food. Another thing is Algea-Chalk.

There is something about the calcium to phosphorus ratio one has to know. In normal food it should be 1:1. But I do not know, how it is in the case of "get the cat enough calcium as soon as possible". (Phosphorus occurs in nature in the raw meat.)

Cow's milk is not the best I assume, because most animals are unable to digest lactose and get diarrhoea as a result of its consumption.

Please post a comment, to tell us how your cat is doing

I wish you the best.

  • 10
    This is good information. I decided to look deeper into nutrition for nursing cats, and I found that mother cats should be on a special kitten food diet. Since the veterinarian is very expensive ($95 USD just to do the labs to diagnose her) I decided to try my best and go to the pet shop where I purchased a special food for nursing mother + kitten. So far, she has eaten twice, and her breathing has almost gone back to normal. She is taking breaks from the kittens less often, and nursing them more and she looks a lot better. Still, she is getting a lot of rest. I'm hoping the new food helps.
    – Carlos
    May 30, 2020 at 21:20
  • 1
    @Carlos excellent news. Keep up the special diet while she is feeding the kittens.
    – user6796
    May 31, 2020 at 2:36
  • 2
    Thank you, too, lila! I really appreciated the edits to the original post, as I wrote it hastily. An update: she moved the kittens to my room closet (I am the only one who goes into my room, my parents don't come in). She's been much more peaceful, her breathing is back to normal, and she's spending nearly all day now with the litter. I think she's doing better. She probably just needed the nutrition that the new food is giving her, as well as some rest since she had given birth so recently when I posted. Thanks to everyone for your help and feedback!
    – Carlos
    May 31, 2020 at 21:06

Regarding milk fever (original question), the symptoms I noticed were panting, increased vocalisation (she kept coming over to me and meowing), weakness (failure to jump on surfaces), hyperventilation (over 100 breaths per minute), and sweating. Her muscles seemed to twitch a bit when she was trying to relax. She was also staying away from the litter during most of the first day. It was within 24 hours of the kittens' birth. I immediately searched online, trying to find out what was wrong with her and found the information about milk fever. I then decided to post here.

As Yvette mentioned in her comment, cats can die from milk fever. I also found this in my research online, so I was very worried. However, I couldn't afford to take her to a veterinarian, and I wanted to do everything possible from home to help her.

It's worth mentioning that she was the runt of her litter and her mom abandoned her in front of my home around when she was around 4-5 weeks old. My parents had saved her, but she was such a tiny kitten that she fit in one hand. Even to this day, she's about two-thirds the size of a normal cat (smaller than every cat in the neighborhood, in fact), and she's fully grown! So, naturally her health is a concern for me.

Allerleirauh's answer revolving around calcium helped me think along the lines of nutrition. I called the local pet shop and asked about food for nursing mother cats. They referred me to this brand of food for mother & kittens:


I was also told to buy a few of the wet, canned food (same brand) and to mix the wet food with the dry food, to make the dry food more appealing for her.


After 24 hours (she ate 3-4 times) I noticed her breathing was much better. She was no longer sweating and she was spending much more time with the kittens.

Today, she seems perfectly fine! She spends most of the day with the kittens and in the evenings she even goes outside to take her breaks in the back yard. She's very attentive to the litter and only leaves when the babies are sleeping. She's with them 90% of the time and never gone for more than half an hour, and she's no longer weak. She still gets a bit of a twitch, but I'm starting to think that's just normal.

Special thanks to everyone for their feedback and comments! It led me to find some nutritious food for her during this delicate time, and I believe that was the answer all along (previously she had been exclusively eating Friskies Seafood Medley).


Do not give her cow's milk, Cats are lactose intolerant - they do not produce lactase the enzyme needed to digest cow's milk.

Please seek urgent veterinary treatment, as she can die.

  • 2
    Mom will listen if I tell her not to give the cat any cow's milk. Dad won't. He doesn't believe anything that I research online, and he does no research for himself. Anyway, I'll just have to keep an eye on him and take the milk away if he gives her some. Thank you for the feedback.
    – Carlos
    May 30, 2020 at 21:29
  • 2
    @Carlos I understand, some people just refuse to listen. The cow's milk will give her diarrhoea. Please let us know how she goes.
    – user6796
    May 31, 2020 at 2:34
  • 2
    She's looking much better with the new food I bought (mentioned in another comment). Breathing is back to normal. At some point last night, she moved the babies to my room closet (I am the only one who enters my room, my parents don't come in). Not sure why she decided to move them, but she's been nursing them almost all day now, and not leaving the litter so often. She probably needed the nutrition that the new food is giving her, as well as a break. I've been keeping an eye on her throughout the day. Hoping everything goes smoothly from here on. Thanks for the help. ^^
    – Carlos
    May 31, 2020 at 21:02
  • 1
    @Carlos salmon with the bones left in it may also be helpful for extra calcium. Buy a tin of salmon and pick out the bones for her and make a sandwich for yourself with the salmon. Thanks for letting me know, I'm so glad she's doing well.
    – user6796
    Jun 1, 2020 at 2:36

Thank you for caring so much about this new little family! :)

I've heard by watching a kitten rescue organization (TinyKittens HQ on YouTube) that mother cats pant after birth to help their organs settle back into place. Don't worry about this at all, especially since the mother now seems fine otherwise.


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