Weaning Kittens – by Dr. Desmond
The Weaning Process In Kittens – Written by Dr. Desmond
Weaning is the process of transitioning from mother’s milk to solid food. This is usually done by the mother cat. It is the state where the kittens progress from dependence to social independence.
What’s the best age to wean kittens?
Kittens start to wean at 4 weeks of age. If an orphaned kitten is in your care, don’t start the weaning too early as the digestive system may not be ready for solid food. The process usually goes on for up to 8-10 weeks. Generally as soon as their eyes open and they’re steady on their feet, and can focus, the process can begin.
How to start weaning your kittens?
The weaning process should be gradual, so that you don’t interrupt other social behaviour like using the litter box, playing etc which may impact their health negatively.
At 4 weeks, start by putting the kittens in a separate room for a few hours to reduce their over-reliance on their mum’s milk and her overall presence. In the separate room put for them, a litter box, food and water. As they become more independent, they can spend more time away from their mum until they’re completely weaned.
Weaning an orphaned or abandoned kitten
NB: Use kitten milk replacer instead of cow’s milk. Some kittens are intolerant to cow’s milk and may develop severe diarrhoea.
Serve the milk in a shallow bowl and dip your finger in it and let the kitten lick it. Slowly guide the kitten by moving your finger into the bowl. Do not push his/her face into the bowl, he/she may inhale the milk and develop pneumonia or lung complications.
Continue to bottle feed as you progress with weaning. You can start by introducing the bowl of milk then finishing with the bottle. Reduce the bottle as he/she becomes more independent.
How to introduce solid food to kittens?
Get a high quality dry or wet kitten food, then mix it with the milk replacer until it’s in the consistency of oatmeal. Feed in a shallow bowl. As the kitten gets used to the formula, slowly reduce the milk replacer and gradually increase the kitten food. By 5-6 weeks, the kitten should be eating only lightly moistened food. Now you can start to leave dry food at certain points in the house with a bowl of fresh water at all time. By 8-10 weeks, kittens should be able to eat unmoistened kitten food comfortably.
Steps to help the weaning process
1. Be patient. Sometimes kittens may play with the formulation, stepping in it before they know it’s food. Do not rush them.
2. Use a soft moist cloth to clean up any formula on the kitten’s face and legs after each feed.
3. Gently dry him/her with a towel and keep him/her in a warm place, free from draft, until he/she is completely dry.
Dr. Desmond Tutu – B.V.M. – Veterinarian
If there is anything you would like to know, leave a comment and Dr. Desmond will get back to you!