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Newborn kittens do not need anything other than their mother's milk to develop, but there comes a time when they will switch from milk to solid food. In this AnimalWised article we will explain how and when to wean kittens. Although there will be differences if the litter has been bottle-fed or, on the contrary, has the presence of its mother, the process to substitute liquid for solid food will be the same for all kittens. Therefore, keep reading to know the steps you must follow..You may also be interested in: How to feed a newborn kitten? Index
- Feeding the kittens
- When to wean cats?
- How to wean cats?
- When to take the cats away from the mother?
Feeding the kittens
Before explaining when and how the weaning of cats happens, it is important that we know some basic aspects of their diet in those first weeks of life. If we want to know when the kittens start to eat we have to go to the beginning, to the colostrum. This liquid is what cats produce as soon as they give birth and is characterized by its immunological properties. For this reason, as soon as the kittens are born, once their mother releases them from the amniotic fluid bag, cuts the umbilical cord and cleans them of secretions from the nose and mouth, we will be able to observe how they go to a nipple to start breastfeeding by ingesting the precious colostrum that, later, will be replaced by mature milk.
The breast milk will be the exclusive food during the first weeks of life. The milk completely covers all the needs of the kitten in terms of both physical and psychological development. In addition, mother and young communicate during lactation. Everyone will purr as a sign of well-being. This way the cat knows that her little ones are well and feeding satisfactorily. For their part, they massage the breasts with their front legs, which is a stimulus for the milk to come out..
Kittens are born with their eyes closed and will spend practically the entire day sleeping. Around eight days of life his eyes will begin to open. Approximately a week later, with about 15 days, they will take their first steps and, around three weeks, they will be able to start eating solid foods, beginning a transition stage until these completely replace milk. We will explain the weaning process of cats in more detail in the following sections.
When to wean cats?
The ideal age for start weaning kittens it's around three weeks old. Before, as we have seen, they do not need anything other than milk and therefore we should not try to make them eat anything, we will not even offer them water.
With three weeks, the kittens already interact a lot with each other, they play, their mother leaves them time alone and their interest in the environment that surrounds them will increase, and this will include food. If we ask ourselves when and how the weaning of cats happens, data such as the ones we have mentioned indicate that they are ready to start the process.
However, we must know that weaning is not an exact science. There will be cats that show an interest in food later, while others will be more precocious. Must respect their times and, above all, keep in mind that we are facing a process that must always be done gradually and naturally. It must also be taken into account that breast milk has to be part of their diet, at least until 6-8 weeks of age, so that lactating kittens will continue to be so until this age.
How to wean cats?
Once we know when to wean kittens, the time has come for us to know how to wean them. For it, we can choose different formulas. Thus, for sale we will find feed or wet food, always specially formulated for growing cats, or we can choose to prepare homemade food.
If we opt for the feed we will have to start by soaking it with warm water to form a porridge, since, otherwise, the kittens will have difficulties to be able to eat the hard balls. On the other hand, if we want to offer you homemade food, it is essential that we know that this is not synonymous with human leftovers. We would have to contact a veterinary specialist in nutrition and make a balanced menu, always bearing in mind that cats are carnivorous animals that require a diet based mainly on the intake of meat and fish..
With three weeks we can put the kittens a plate with the food we have chosen 2-3 times a day. A low-edged plate will make access easier. Thus, they will continue to suckle on demand and eat solid if they want. If the kittens do not have a mother and we are feeding them with a bottle, so we are interested in knowing how the weaning of orphaned cats should be, we must know that we can put the dish before giving it to them. Then we will let them drink whatever milk they want.
Little by little we will notice that they will eat more solid and less milk, so we will adapt the amounts, always gradually. If we give them porridge every time we must prepare them more solid. It is very important that we accompany the increase in solids with the water offering, since it is essential that the kittens are always well hydrated. They must have clean and fresh water freely available. We insist that weaning of kittens should never be completed before 6-8 weeks. Early weaning and early separation from the family will have consequences on the future character of the cat. If the kittens are with their mother, it will be she who decides when to end breastfeeding.
Any questions that arise about how and when to wean cats can be resolved by our veterinarian..
When to take the cats away from the mother?
As we have already pointed out, the weaning of the cats and the separation from their mother must be something that marks the feline family itself. An early separation will lead to socialization and behavior problems for kittens in the future. Therefore, it is not recommended to separate them before 6 weeks of life..
For more information on this, don't miss the following article: "¿When can kittens be separated from their mother? ".