Weaning is the fun, messy adventure of helping a kitten transition from nursing (or bottle feeding) to eating solid food on her own! Kittens often need extra support during this time to help ensure they’re receiving the proper nutrients in proper quantity, and to keep them on track for success and independence. Here’s what you need to know about weaning:
START AT THE RIGHT AGE
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.
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.