This post include on query How to Wean a Stubborn Kitten ? especially the 3 Ways that can help you to wean a stubborn kitten by thevetscare.com
Weaning kittens is a natural process. Mother cats, who completely focus on their kittens for the first three to four weeks, know that as the babies begin to grow, their need to nurse begins to fade. She may take the lead by curtailing nursing time, but you can make the transition easier by showing the kittens how to eat without their mother. Their curiosity and hunger will make the process an easy one.
For kittens, the nursing experience provides both nutrition and security. Besides feeding her young, mom cat teaches them to play, hunt and clean themselves. Kittens that stay with their mothers for at least eight weeks — or better yet, 10 to 12 weeks — are more adjusted socially than those separated earlier.
But they can start chewing solid food, in addition to nursing, once their teeth start coming in, usually by three weeks. If a cat is nursing a sizable litter, or has had health problems and is not producing enough milk, getting the kittens to eat on their own earlier, at two or three weeks, will give them a nutritional boost.
Here are tip for How to Wean a Stubborn Kitten ?
Lending a Hand to Mother Nature
Mother cats produce milk for about 12 weeks, and kittens may try to nurse the entire time. During their first three weeks, kittens nurse (and nap) almost continuously. When their teeth come in, they may explore their mother’s food, imitating her by trying to eat it. By the kittens’ fourth or fifth week, mother cats encourage weaning by gradually cutting down nursing time for kittens with their sharp, growing teeth.
You can assist by offering a shallow dish of kitten milk replacement, available at pet supply stores. Kittens should never drink cow’s milk, which causes digestive upset and diarrhea. Dip your finger into the dish; let the kitten lick off the milk, and then guide it down to the bowl.
A kitten may walk into its dish, cleaning the milk replacement from its paws as it figures out this new way of eating. This is a good thing. Never push a kitten’s nose into a dish; it could inhale the liquid and develop pneumonia or other lung problems.
From Mother’s Milk to Real Meals
Once kittens are accustomed to lapping from a bowl, combine the kitten milk replacement with a little canned food, mixed to a gruel-like consistency. A kitten-specific formula food will provide the protein growing kittens require. Serve this mush-meal at room temperature, three or four times a day.
As kittens get used to eating it, gradually cut back the amount of milk replacement while increasing the food. Kittens will continue to supplement these meals with nursing, but as they get used to the taste, scent and texture of solid food, they will prefer it to mother’s milk. They should be eating regular un-moistened food by eight to 10 weeks. However, always offer a shallow dish of fresh water to kittens that can get dehydrated easily.
To prevent the mother cat from developing mastitis, or inflammation of the mammary glands resulting from a blocked milk duct or infected gland, weaning should be done gradually. Instinctively, the mother cat will discourage nursing.
She may walk away from her nesting box to take a nap apart from her increasingly active family. Kittens eating solid food can be separated from their mothers for longer periods. If the mother cat is still producing milk and the kittens have stopped nursing, reducing her food and water intake can help the milk dry up.
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An orphaned or otherwise hand-fed kitten should always be given kitten milk replacement, not cow’s milk. Bottle-raised kittens can begin weaning a bit sooner than nursing kittens.
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At about three weeks, begin offering the kitten its milk replacement in a shallow dish, urging it to drink the same way you would show a nursing kitten. At first, keep a bottle ready if it rejects the bowl. As it grows more comfortable taking meals from the dish, mix the milk replacement with a little canned kitten food. Gradually adjust the amount of milk replacement until it’s eating just food.
How to Wean a Stubborn Kitten ? – Top Tips
I find that weaning kittens can be easy with some litters and much harder with others. I usually start weaning kittens by introducing my kittens to ‘solids’ at about three to four weeks though I do not worry if they are not eating until about five or six weeks old.
Some litters literally dive in the food bowl as soon as I offer them their first meal where as some litters decide that the food I am offering them is in fact poison and should not be consumed under any circumstances.
Tip #1 – Tempt, Encourage & Trick
When I begin weaning kittens I usually start off with some kitten food that is of a paste like substance and add some hot water to increase the smell of the food. Often this is enough to encourage some of the more greedy kittens to venture over to the bowl and give it a try. If the kittens are not happy to explore this delicacy on their own I am happy to pick them up and place them next to the food bowl.
If they still do not show much interest I will then smear a little on their mouth and feet. Often a kitten will then clean themselves and discover that they do in fact quite like the taste and then proceed to demolish the lot!
Trick Your Kittens Into Eating Solid Food
Remember a kitten will lick their paws to clean them and also to use their paws to clean their faces where their tongue cannot reach. All the time they are cleaning they are also actually eating as well and getting used to the taste of food.
Tip #2 – Mum Cat Knows Best
If I am not making much progress I will then allow my queen to clear the plate and clean her kittens. The benefits of allowing the queen to remove all the food are…
- Waste not, want not! I am always happy to see my nursing queens eat as much as possible.
- Less cleaning for me.
- Most important is that I do not want the experience of weaning to be too distressful to the kittens and for them to then associate food with a traumatic experience. Nothing is more reassuring than their mother giving them a good bath and a love.
Tip #3 – Never Give Up
Never one to give up I will retry the above the same day and possibly then bring my finger in to the equation. Have you ever considered how it must be for a kitten that is used to sucking away at their mums ‘milk bar’ to then having food shoved down their mouth. Not very nice at all! So I will try to imitate with my food smeared finger the girls teat in as much as by lightly bouncing my finger around the kittens mouth.
Using Your Finger
Theory being that when a very tiny kitten is looking for a nipple they use two senses….touch and smell and my food smeared finger lightly bouncing around their mouths will imitate their mums milk smelling nipple.
Another useful trick that I like to remember when weaning kittens is that a kitten is used to suckling for their food they are used to having their heads tilted upwards or level and not facing downwards to a food bowl.
I find that if I can get a kitten to lick some food from my finger (keeping my finger at head height) and then very slowly move my finger lower and lower until it is level with a flat feeding bowl (I usually start off with a saucer) I can then try and encourage them to eat directly from the edge of the bowl.
I often find that the kittens will try and suck the food from the edge of the plate (as if the edge of the plate is a nipple) and so I put the food around the lip of the saucer to allow them to suckle their first meals.
Tip #3 – Follow The Leader
Persevere with the most promising prospective eaters in the litter as very often if you get one or two kittens eating then the others start to worry about what they are missing out on. Kittens also hear much better than we do and when they hear their litter mates eating they are more likely to give it a go. Have you ever noticed one kitten start to suckle and then they all wake up and have a quick go at the milk bar?
Keep repeating these little tricks 3-4 times every day and 99% of the time I find by the third day they are on the way to being weaned.
Sometimes you will have four out of your five kittens eating and one that just plain refuses to eat ‘solids’ no matter what try.
Weaning Kittens by thevetscare.com
If I have the majority of the litter weaned I will then let the kitten that is not eating go at their own pace and not try and force the issue.
I have never yet had a kitten that has starved to death…sooner or later they join in with their litter mates.
Why is Weaning needed?
You may be wondering why this is even required. It’s a good question. However, there are scenarios where weaning is legitimately needed.
For example, the kitten may be orphaned and removed from its mother (more on this later) or the mother may have issues with her milk flow.
At what age do they start weaning?
what age do they start weaning
The weaning process can start as early as 4 weeks old. However, if they are orphaned from their mother, this could even be earlier.
You may notice that a kitten will try to wean itself automatically by trying to eat her mother’s food. The usual response from their mother is to push the kids out of the way until they are ready for solid food.
How can you wean a stubborn kitten yourself?
From time to time you may encounter a kitten or a selection of kittens that are being very stubborn. And, for some reason, it will not wean no matter what you try.
For that reason, you may need to intervene. For that reason, I’m going to give you some examples of how you can do this.
01. Showing them the food.
The first part of the process is literally just presenting your kittens with the food.
The idea is to get some kitten food, which is typically a paste-like substance, and add some warm or hot water. The objective is to get a few eager ones to react and take you up on the offer.
However, it is likely that you will get some stubborn ones that still will not respond. But, don’t worry we have a plan for that later.
You will probably find that there are still a few stubborn ones that do not want to take the bait. For that reason, you need to guide them towards the food, physically. I mean literally pick the kitten up and place them next to the bowl, are you with me?
In addition to this, you need to actually put a small amount of food on their paws. What!? I get it, you may be wondering why you would do such a thing. The reality is, you are hoping that when they start grooming and licking themselves, it will get a taste and continue eating it, are you with me?
03. Get mommy involved
At this stage, if they still haven’t responded to the persuasion and they have this food on their paws. It is a good idea to get their mother involved. The reason for this is, this will help them to clean up and it will make them feel secure again.
You may think to yourself that giving the mother the opportunity to get involved is going back a step, right? Well, no, the reassurance of the mother will keep them from being traumatized and give you another chance at a later stage.
04. Repetition (& the cheeky finger method)
You have to understand that the chances are you will not get this correct first time or even the third. Repetition is the key. In addition to this, I will also explain why using the “cheeky finger” is a top tip.
The “cheeky finger” trick…
Basically, let’s step back a second, how will your kitten act in real life? Sucking on mummies teet, right? So, you need to try your best to imitate this, are you with me?
Therefore, you need to whip out your pinky and put some tempting food on it. The idea is to get the kitten to start lapping up the food off it and gradually move one step further to weening off the mil, are you with me?
05. Focus on the Winners!
The reality is, out of a litter you will not get all of them converted right away. This is just the way it is. But, to be honest, you do not need all of them at once.
Simple, once you have a few winners that grasp it right away, they will naturally entice their siblings to try it as well, in time. So, be patient, focus on weening the winners and, in time, the others will follow suit.
Why you should ween them slowly…
You may be wondering how long this process takes, and if there are any opportunities to speed it up. The reality is, you shouldn’t focus on speed with this.
Well, if you try and speed through the process and force nature to skip steps it can cause havoc with the mother cat. Basically, nature has a way of providing enough milk for her kittens at the right time (much like our mothers did for us, assuming you were breastfed that is).
If you suddenly speed up a kitten and ween them off their mother’s milk fast, this could cause issues with her milk production. But more importantly inflammation of her mammary glands.
This can be painful and avoidable if you take your time and let the kittens ween in their own time.
Weening bottle-fed kittens
If you have an orphaned cat, the weening process may be slightly different. Simply because you won’t have their mother there to support the process. So, I am going to provide some steps you can take to ween her off the bottle milk.
01. Gently Offering an alternative
The first step is simply offering her an alternative food source. This is a kitten milk replacement that can ease them into the process.
The trick here is to get it to feed in a similar way it would when it was being nursed by its mother.
02. Persist & keep a bottle ready
There is a chance that she might get frustrated with the offering. So you need to be prepared with a back-up bottle, just in case.
03. Mixing the Meal replacement
Once your kitten starts to take the meal replacement from the bowl, you can start gradually mixing it with everyday cat food, such as normal cat food. However, start slowly. The idea is, in time, to gradually increase the amount of real food. If all goes well, by the end your kitten should be fully weaned off the bottle milk.
How does a mother kitten (Queen) wean her kittens?
You may be wondering how this weaning process happens in real life, without the intervention of us humans, right?
Usually, the mother kitten will start weaning them when they are about four weeks old. This typically goes on for about one month. During this time there is a gradual process of moving them from nursing her milk to actually eating solid foods.
During this time the kitten starts to have liquid food and will gradually have more liquid food than their mother’s milk. Slowly but surely they will reduce the ratio of the mother’s milk to liquid food.
Examples of this watered-down food could be moistened kibble or water down cat food. At the end of the process, the kitchen will have successfully weaned from their mother’s milk to solid cat food. This is a critical part of their development and one step closer to being an adult.