Are you caring for a kitten that has been orphaned or could not be fed by its mother? If so, you are surely wondering when you can start giving more or less solid food, right? Feeding a bottle is a very beautiful experience, which allows you to create a very special bond with the furry, but it is also very demanding. You have to be very aware of him, and feed him every 3-4 hours depending on the weeks he has (the less they are, the more often he will need to drink milk).
He’s adorable and very, very cuddly, but there comes a time when he has to wake up a bit and be at least a little bit autonomous in order to take care of his physiological needs. So, let’s see when kittens can start eating .
What does a newborn kitten have to eat?
The kitten, from birth to three weeks of age, should be fed only breast milk . If this cannot be, either because her mother is not or is in poor health, she must be given one that they sell in veterinary clinics and in pet stores especially for kittens. Do not give cow’s milk, as it contains lactose, which is a sugar that often causes gastrointestinal problems.
Just in case we cannot find kitten milk, we will prepare this mixture for you:
- 250ml of whole milk without lactose.
- A raw egg yolk (without any white)
- A teaspoon of heavy cream
If we can’t get whole milk without lactose, we can mix the following:
- 150 ml of whole milk.
- 50 ml water
- 50 ml natural yogurt
- Raw egg yolk (without any white)
- A teaspoon of heavy cream
We stir everything well so that it is well mixed, we heat it a little so that it is warm (about 37ºC) and we give it to the puppy.
From weaning to solid feeding in kittens
When a kitten is weaned it is when it goes from mother’s milk to solid food and it is a milestone for kittens since it is a fundamental part of their development. Normally the mother of the kittens is in charge of weaning, but when the mother has problems producing milk or when the litter of kittens is left without a mother, then it is necessary to intervene so that the little ones have a good development. The following tips are the ones you should keep in mind for the process to be correct.
Before starting the weaning process it is important that kittens can have access to breast milk or colostrum which have important antibodies for their growth. If the cat cannot produce enough milk each kitten should receive milk, it is better to receive a little than not receive at all. If the mother has mastitis, you can find another lactating cat who can feed the kittens even if they are not hers.
If there is no surrogate nursing mother, then kitten formula should be used with a bottle or syringe. They can be fed for three or four weeks with a bottle (on demand) always with a bottle with hot water and you have to try before pouring the milk on your arm to see that it does not burn and is at a comfortable temperature, also if you try it it is better to check that it has not soured. If you are using a powdered formula, store the powder unmixed in the fridge . They feed on demand both day and night.
It is more or less during the four weeks of life when weaning is over. They will start trying to eat the food. When they start to bite and chew the bottle it is because they are ready to start eating solid food, although at first it is better to be semi solid.
How to wean kittens
To start weaning a kitten, mix kitten food with formula so they will recognize the taste . Smear the mixture around their mouth with your finger and let them suck on it. Once they get used to the taste, they will look elsewhere for food.
Then, give them in a bowl and observe well so that they do not eat too quickly and do not push their head into the bowl, allow them to do it themselves. It will be between the fifth and the mushroom week when they can make a gradual transition to dry food. The feed should first be somewhat moistened in water and in the seventh and eighth week they should already eat solid food.
More on weaning kittens
When you wean a kitten with solid food, it is necessary that the food she takes is specific for kittens. This type of diet has all the proteins, vitamins and everything necessary for them to grow strong and healthy.
Kittens that have just been weaned need to be warm, so it is important that you put blankets where they sleep and it is even more important if there is no mother. Heating pads or hot water bottles under blankets or towels are a good option. This will give the kittens a lot of warmth they need.
Remember that you should not force the weaning process to eat solid foods. It is a gradual process and it is necessary to respect its rhythm. They just need a lot of patience but also a lot of love.
When can you eat feed?
Once the kitten has reached 3-4 weeks , he will begin to nibble on the bottle, his hands, and any object that is in his path. It will be the signal that we are waiting to start giving him another type of feeding, since his milk teeth will have started to come out and, therefore, he will already be able to chew very soft food , such as that from cans for kittens (wet food).
As it is very likely that he does not want to eat by himself, we will take a little food with one finger, we will open his mouth and we will introduce it . Then, we will close it firmly but without too much force (do not hurt it) until it swallows. Afterwards, we will bring him to the plate with food and, instinctively, he will most likely eat alone. If not, we could make him a kind of porridge with wet food mixed with milk for kittens, and give it with a bottle for a few days.
At two months of age, he can be fed kitten food , but since he will not yet have very strong teeth, it must be mixed with kitten milk or water.
Feeding tips for kittens
For the little one to have excellent growth and better development, he must be given high-quality food, without cereals (corn, oats, wheat, rice) or by-products , since his body does not need these ingredients and, in fact, they it can cause various short and medium term health problems, such as allergies or urinary infections. The health of a kitten is a very serious matter. His condition will depend a lot on the type of diet he takes, in addition to the care he receives.
We, as his caregivers, have to be very aware of him and provide him with all the attention he needs . It will depend on us whether the little one grows up happy and healthy, or … quite the opposite. If we cannot take care of him, it is best to find a new home for him, if possible with the help of an animal protector, who will be in charge of finding a family that can take responsibility for the little one until the end of his days.
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