what age do kittens wean

When do kittens stop nursing from their Mother? 10 things to know about weaning a kitten

This post include on query what age do kittens wean? or When do kittens stop nursing from their Mother? and everything you should know about kitten weaning by thevetscare.com

When do kittens stop nursing from their Mother?

When do kittens stop nursing from their Mother?

Kittens’ bodies are very sensitive to premature weaning, so be careful about starting them too young. A kitten 0-5 weeks old should be nursing or bottle feeding. Around 5 weeks of age, the kitten’s premolars will begin to emerge, indicating that she is likely ready to start trying out some meaty foods.

However, some kittens may need a bit more time on the bottle due to health issues, or differences in weight or size. Use your best judgement and follow the kitten’s lead to determine the appropriate age to wean. If you see any changes in the kitten’s health or energy during this process, immediately step back to bottle feeding. 

Weaning Kittens

Weaning is a big step in a kitten’s young life. It happens when kittens move from mother’s milk to solid food. Just as important, it’s a time when a kitten moves from depending on her mother’s care to becoming a more socially independent cat. And if you live with a cat, you know just how seriously they take that independence!

The process of weaning usually starts when kittens are about three to four weeks old, and takes two to three weeks to complete. If you are bottle-feeding an orphaned kitten, or one whose mother isn’t able to feed her, weaning can begin as early as three weeks.
 

MOTHER KNOWS BEST…

The weaning process is actually very ordinary and natural, especially when handled by the mother cat. Like any good mother, she instinctually knows what to do and when, without ever consulting a single kitten development book. One of her best indicators that it’s time to wean comes from her kittens themselves. At just a few weeks of age, they begin trying to eat her food, and she has to push them away. That’s when the transition to independence known as weaning begins.

During weaning, kittens should remain with their mothers as much as possible. In fact, taking a kitten away from her mother too suddenly can negatively affect her health and socialization skills. After all, a mother cat is not only her kittens’ first source of food; she is also their first teacher, guiding them on everything from playing to mastering the use of the litter box – arguably a most important thing to master.
 

BUT MOTHER NEEDS HER REST

To help weaning kittens become less dependent on mom (and her milk), place them in an area separate from mom for a few hours at a time. Make sure this area has a litter box and water bowls. This will allow the kittens to get used to spending time without their mother close by… and hopefully give mom time to catch up on some sleep.

Kittens generally nibble solid foods at three to four weeks of age, which is a great time to start setting out moistened kitten food for them. Just add one part warm – not hot – water to three parts dry or canned kitten food, changing frequently to ensure freshness. It should look like oatmeal and will likely never be featured on the cover of a cooking magazine. But once your kitten develops a taste for it, you’ll become her favorite chef.

If your kitten plays with her food at first, batting it with her paws and even stepping in the bowl, remember that she has to get used to the idea that this really is food… and not just a fabulously messy toy. So be patient. And have a moist cloth ready to clean up. Like human babies, weaning kittens need to be wiped off occasionally, so be sure to keep them warm while they dry off.

Also, at some point, you might be tempted to reach for the milk jug in your fridge. The problem is, your kitten’s digestive system might not be able to handle cow’s milk… and neither of you will be happy with the results.

THE SWITCH TO SOLID

As your kitten gets used to eating more solid food, gradually decrease the amount of water and increase the amount of food each day. After a week or two of softened food, she should be past the oatmeal-like food stage, and happily munching on only lightly moistened food. At this point, you can leave out small amounts of dry kitten food and fresh water – a sort of all-day snack buffet.

By the time your kitten is five to seven weeks old, she should be getting all of her nutrition from solid food. The weaning process is over – congratulations! – and your kitten is ready to move on to other adventures in development, with her nutritional foundation firmly in place.

Just be sure to keep feeding her kitten food during those first 12 months, since kittens continue to develop throughout their first year. And if you have questions about your kitten’s transition to solid food or concerns about her progress, don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian.

How Long Should a Kitten Stay With Its Mother?

When do kittens stop nursing from their Mother? by thevetscare.com
When do kittens stop nursing from their Mother? by thevetscare.com

When looking to adopt a kitten, it’s common to see very young cats for sale or for adoption. But while it may be commonplace, placing a kitten in a new home at too young of an age can be detrimental to the cat. 

Timeline for Weaning Kittens

Mother cats will typically start to wean their kittens off their milk at one month of age. This does not mean that this is the time that the kittens can go home, though. The next month of life is still full of essentials for a growing kitten, even if it isn’t consuming its mother’s milk all of the time.

The weaning process usually continues for about another month until the kittens are fully weaned between eight and 10 weeks of age. During this time, the kittens will still occasionally nurse on their mother but they will also start to eat liquid kitten food.

The liquid kitten food should gradually get thicker until it is a watered-down canned kitten food or a moistened kitten kibble. Over the four to six week weaning period, the kitten will consume less and less milk from its mother. Getting a kitten used to eating dry food can take some time, so it should not be forced or rushed.

When do kittens stop nursing from their Mother? by thevetscare.com
When do kittens stop nursing from their Mother? by thevetscare.com credit : thesprucepets

What If the Mother Cat Is Not Around?

If the mother cat perhaps did not survive the birth, was not healthy enough to care for kittens, got hit by a car, or if a litter of kittens was abandoned at a shelter, the kittens can still get the necessary nutrition they need and lead a healthy life with the help of humans. Some shelters will use a foster lactating cat to both nurse the kittens and socialize them or bottle-feed the kittens with kitten milk replacement formula.

Bottle-fed kittens do not receive the same care from humans as they would from a cat though. Cats teach their young important skills that we cannot duplicate as humans. Bottle-fed kittens are a huge time commitment, so if you are adopting a young bottle-fed kitten who has no mother cat, be prepared to feed and clean them often.

Weaning a Kitten

WebMD Veterinary Reference from the ASPCA

Weaning is the process of transitioning kittens from mother’s milk to solid food. During weaning, kittens gradually progress from dependence on a mother’s care to social independence. Ideally, weaning is handled entirely by the mother cat. However, if the kitten in your care has been separated from his mother or if you are fostering a litter or a pregnant cat about to give birth, seeing the young ones through a successful weaning process may be up to you.

At What Age Should Kittens Be Weaned?

The weaning process normally begins when kittens are around four weeks old, and is usually completed when they reach eight to ten weeks. If you are in charge of weaning an orphaned kitten, please remember that weaning should not be attempted at too early of an age. Generally, when a kitten’s eyes are open and able to focus, and he is steady on his feet, the introduction of solid food can safely begin.

How Long Does it Take to Wean a Kitten?

The process typically takes between four and six weeks, with most kittens completely weaned by the time they’re eight to ten weeks old.

How Do I Start the Weaning Process?

It’s important to remember that abrupt removal from the mother cat can have a negative effect on the kittens’ health and socialization skills-they learn to eat, use a litter box and play, among other things, by observing their mother. Whenever possible, kittens should remain with their mother during the weaning process, as she will inherently know what to do.

When the kittens reach four weeks old, you can place them in a separate area for a few hours at a time to reduce their dependency on mother’s milk and her overall presence. Put them in their own special area with a litter box and food and water bowls. As the kittens become more independent, they can spend more time away from their mother until they are completely weaned.

How Do I Wean a Kitten Off of Mother’s Milk or Bottle-Feeding?

Serve kitten milk replacer in a shallow bowl. Do not use cow’s milk, as this will cause stomach upset and diarrhea in some kittens. Dip your fingertip (or the syringe or bottle the kitten is used to nursing from) into the liquid, let the kitten lick it, then guide him by moving your finger down into the bowl. Please do not push his nose into the bowl. He may inhale the liquid and develop pneumonia or other lung problems. Once he becomes accustomed to lapping liquids, create a gruel as described below.

Though you should continue to bottle-feed while the kitten is learning to eat from the bowl, you can help with the gradual transition by always offering the bowl first, and then the bottle.

How Do I Introduce a Kitten to Solid Food?

Make a gruel by mixing a high-quality dry or canned kitten food with kitten milk replacer until it is the consistency of oatmeal. As the kitten gets accustomed to eating, gradually decrease the amount of milk replacer you add, while slowly increasing the amount of kitten food. By five to six weeks, he should be eating only lightly moistened food. Now you can start to leave out small amounts of dry food and fresh water at all times. By eight to 10 weeks, kittens should be accustomed to eating unmoistened kitten food.

What About Weaning an Orphaned Kitten?

Generally, orphaned or hand-fed kittens can begin weaning slightly earlier, at about three weeks of age, but otherwise the process is essentially the same. Begin by offering milk replacer in a dish, teaching the kitten how to lap from the dish. Gradually transition to a gruel created by mixing a commercial milk replacer with high-quality kitten food.

As the kitten slowly grows accustomed to eating, gradually reduce the amount of milk replacer you use. By five to six weeks of age, he should be relying solely on kitten food for his nutrients.

Also Check : How to feed orphan kitten at home?

You might be interested in : Orphan kitten homemade kitten formulas

What Are Some Steps to Help the Weaning Process?

Kittens may play with the gruel, batting it around and stepping into the bowl before they understand that it’s food. Have patience and don’t rush the process-they’ll catch on eventually. In the meantime, use a soft, moist cloth to wipe any formula off the animal’s face and feet after each feeding. Gently dry him with a towel and keep him in a warm area free of drafts until he’s completely dry.

What Happens When a Kitten Is Removed From Its Mother Too Soon?

If a kitten is taken from its mother and sent to a new home too soon, there can be some serious health consequences. The first few weeks of a kitten’s life are essential for its health and body development. The colostrum and nutrients in the mother’s milk are responsible for strong bone development, eye health, and full organ development, so if a kitten is weaned too soon, you could be increasing the risk of your cat developing more health issues later on. A kitten removed from its mother too soon may need nutritional supplementation and other veterinary care early on in life.

In addition to health concerns, behavioral issues can arise in kittens who were removed from their mothers too early in life. Mother cats teach their kittens’ lifelong lessons and give off calming pheromones. Kittens who left their mothers too soon may have trouble grooming themselves, not know how to bury their waste in the litter box, play too rough, not know how to hunt for food, or have other behavioral problems.

A kitten that is removed from its mother too soon may also have trouble adjusting to its new home and you. Growing up with a mother and littermates is an essential part of cat socialization. Without proper socialization at a young age, the kitten may grow up to be fearful, skittish, or even aggressive. It also may not know how to properly communicate with other cats. You will need to spend significant amounts of time working with a kitten that did not spend adequate time with its mother and littermates. This will help it adapt to its new home and learn appropriate behaviors. 

The Ideal Age to Adopt a Kitten

Ideally, kittens should go to their new home around 12 weeks of age. While some kittens can go home earlier, the closer you wait until 12 or 13 weeks, the better off the kitten will be. Your cat’s chances of being healthy, well-socialized, and properly developed are dramatically increased by allowing it to spend extra time with its mother and littermates.

References

  • Kaye T. petMD. “Weaning Kittens: How and When.” <http://www.petmd.com/print/29483>
  • ASPCA. “Weaning.” <https://www.aspca.org/print/pet-care/cat-care/weaning>
  • Vigil L. Nestlé Purina PetCare Senior Nutritionist (Cat Portfolio). Interviewed Dec 2014.

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