The weaning of a kitten consists of the passage of mother’s milk to solid food . It is very important to do it at the right time and in the right way.
Normally, the mother cat will decide to wean the kitten on her own. But when the mother has problems producing milk, or when a litter of kittens is orphaned, we must intervene.
In this article I will give you tips for the smooth and successful weaning of the kitten.
You may also be interested in reading this article: Behavior of a cat after giving birth to kittens .
- Before beginning weaning of baby cats
- Healthy kittens should eat or sleep 90 percent of the time.
- At what time can kittens be weaned
- How to wean the kittens
- Problems with weaning kittens early
- Health problems
- Behavioral problems
- Problems with the litter box
Before beginning weaning of baby cats
Healthy kittens should eat or sleep 90 percent of the time.
Baby cats get all of their nutritional needs (including water) from breast milk. The first milk is known as colostrum, it is produced during the first two days after the kittens are born. It contains all the nutritional requirements along with antibodies from the mother to help provide immunity against common diseases until kitten immunity develops.
Female cats produce approximately 125 ml of milk per day. Supplemental feeding is recommended when your milk supply is insufficient, you have an overly large litter of kittens, or you suffer from mastitis or other problems.
At what time can kittens be weaned
Natural weaning of cats should begin between three and four weeks of age . This can be stressful for the mother if done abruptly or too early, and it can also be stressful for the kitten when she begins to eat new foods and begins to spend time apart from her mother and her littermates.
A slow and consistent weaning will result in healthier and more balanced kittens.
How to wean the kittens
- Regular feeding timesare recommended , and this is useful as it allows you to see which kittens are eating well and which may need more encouragement. Offer food several times a day for about 30 minutes at a time.
- Solid foods can be introduced from three to four weeks of age; Special kitten foods (wet or dry foods) are always recommended as they are specific to meet the special nutritional demands of a growing kitten. If you are using dry food, you may want to moisten it with a little water (or kitten’s milk) before offering it to kittens.
- Food should be offered in a very shallow plate or saucer so kittens can easily access it. You can encourage kittens to eat by offering food on the tip of your finger or with a small spoon.
- Initially, you shouldonly give very small amounts . Over a few weeks, the kittens will gradually consume more food for themselves and less and less milk from the mother cat.
- When the kittens no longer seem interested in food, you clean them up and return to their mother. During this time, try to keep the mother away from the babies for longer periods of time.
- You should never feed kittens with dog or human baby food, as it lacks essential nutrients and can be dangerous. Even special food for adult cats is unsuitable for the nutritional needs of a growing kitten, so only offer good quality kitten food and it is not necessary to supplement this with any human food or other additives.
- The growth of the kittens should be monitored and observe if they gain weight steadily. Most kittens are fully weaned between six and eight weeks of ageand should be fed according to their needs, following the food manufacturer’s recommendations as a guide.
- Some mothers and babies may not wean properly. Mothers who do not start to push their kittens away at 4 weeks of age will need help. Weaning should progress slowly to reduce the incidence of anxiety and inflammation of the mammary glands in the mother.
Problems with weaning kittens early
1. Health problems
Newborn kittens get the nutrients they need from their mother’s milk . When they are around 8 weeks old, their mother will remove them from milk naturally, but if they are weaned too early they can have a difficult time getting the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.
Orphaned kittens, or those who are weaned too early, need to be bottle-fed a formula designed especially for kittens. Even with this formula, very young kittens may not get all of the antibodies they would have gotten from their mother’s milk, making them prone to stunted growth and disease.
2. Behavioral problems
Kittens get their security and peace of mind from their mother. Therefore, separated cats are likely to show aggressiveness and fear very soon , until they are properly socialized.
Kittens pick up social cues and learn how to respond to humans and other species from their mothers .
The kitten separated from his family too soon does not learn to play without being too rude, does not know how to interact with others, is shy and fearful, and bites or scratches quickly when his space is invaded.
3. Problems with the litter box
At an early age, kittens learn by mimicking their mother, if your kitten is not using the litter box properly, that may be because he was separated from his mother early.