When and how to wean a kitten?
Weaning is the process of transition from mother’s milk to solid food. Ideally it should be handled completely by the mother, but now that you are the pet parent it is your responsibility to wean the little one properly.
A kitten is happy suckling milk from her mother but she needs to be weaned. Here’s how to do it.
When to start?
A lot of pet parents are confused about when to start weaning. It should be done when the kittens are around 4 weeks old and should be completed by the time they are 8 -10 weeks old. Usually it takes 6 – 10 weeks to wean a kitten. It may vary with each kitten separately.
Apart from this another indication to start weaning the kitten is when they start to nibble or try to chew the feeding bottle, you know your little kitten is ready to take the plunge. It is recommended that you talk to your vet because he/she would know the best for your kitten.
How to wean a kitten?
Deal separation slowly: Don’t separate the kitten from the mother before 4 weeks. Also in the initial weaning stages, you could keep the queen cat (mother) around as she would know just the right way and would do it in the best possible way. Slowly when the kitten becomes more independent, he would be able to spend more time alone without the mother.
Feeding tips: Start by giving the food (or milk replacers) in a very shallow dish. This way it would be easy for the kitten to slurp it up. Dip your finger in the milk and let the kitten lick it first. Then slowly guide her to the bowl.
You can give a combination of dry food and canned food. Make sure that you crush the dry food into really small pieces so that it is easy to chew and swallow. Serve the food close to room temperature or lukewarm. It is a great idea to blend all the ingredients and make a smooth paste. This way it would be easier for the little one to lick it.
You should feed them slowly but at frequent intervals, every 2–3 hours. At night if the kitten is sleeping don’t wake him up. If by chance, he is hungry he’ll wake you up by nudging or whining.
Week 4-5: Slightly moistened food preferably in slush form.
Week 5-6: The kitten would start nibbling on dry kibble.
Week 6-7: Give them solid food.
By the end of 7 weeks the weaning process would be complete and the kitten would be happily eating solid food.
Tips for an easier weaning process
Right age: Start weaning at the right age (mentioned above) and in the right manner for fruitful results.
Make it a gradual process: Make sure that the transition is gradual. An abrupt shift from mother’s milk to solid food can have negative effect on the kitten.
Nutrition balance: Use food (packaged) especially formulated for weaning kittens. The food is made keeping in mind the calorie intake and the nutritional needs of kittens.
Keep the kitten warm: It is important to keep weaning kittens warm. You could experiment with heating pads or hot water bottles. Just be very careful and never leave the kitten alone. Wrap the hot water bottle in a cloth to avoid direct contact with heat.
Patience is the key: Remember that your little bundle of joy is learning something new and you must give her time to adapt to this new habit. Don’t get annoyed or too hassled if things don’t work out in the first go. Ask your mom how patiently she handled you, and you will know.
Weaning is a natural process. All you need to do is to assist the kitten a little and the rest she’ll manage herself!