How to Wean Kittens and What Food Should They Be Given
When does a kitten become a cat? Kittens are usually the cats of age 1 year or less. After 1 year, a cat enters into its adulthood. Weaning kittens from mother cat at right kitten age is very important. Kitten food during the first year of cat’s life helps a lot in forming good eating habits in later years. Adult cat food is different from food for smaller cats. Kittens start eating anything they are given in the early days. That’s why special care is required to make sure that their food contains all sort of nutritional values.
Weaning is the process whereby a kitten is transitioned from mother’s milk to solid food. When to start kittens on solid food? Once weaned, the kittens are no more dependent upon their mother for fulfilling their dietary needs. How long do kittens need to be with their mother? The mother cat usually starts this process four weeks after the kitten is born and the process usually completes in kitten’s eight week. During weaning, the mother cat gradually directs the kittens towards solid food and decreases nursing time. Weaning kittens at 4 weeks is normally recommended time period. This is perfect age to wean kittens.
How to Start Weaning?
People stay confused about what to feed kittens? Can kittens drink milk? Do kittens drink water?
What to feed kittens without mother? In case the owner brings home the kitten without it being properly weaned or if the mother cat is pregnant again then the owner can help with the weaning kittens process by following these steps:
- Weaning should not start until the kitten does not open the eyes and properly balance of its feet- this usually happens at four weeks of age.
- In case the owner wants kittens to be less dependent upon their mother’s feed, then from four week old kitten onward, can be kept in a secluded area for small periods of time and they should be properly supervised. From fourth till eighth week, this time period should be gradually increased till they are fully weaned.
- The owner will have to force feed the kittens since they do not know how to eat from bowl as yet. The owner can dip his/her finger tip in the milk re-placer and then let the kitten lick it. A syringe or dropper can also be used for this purpose.
- To 5 week old kittens, the owner should guide them towards the food bowl with milk in it and let it smell around; eventually the will start drinking it. The kitten’s nose should not be pushed into the milk, for it might inhale it. If the kitten does not start to eat the food then the owner should force feed it again and also constantly guide the kitten to the food bowl.
- Once the kitten gets used to drinking milk replacer from the bowl, next step is to get it used to eating kitten gruel. When can kittens eat wet food? Small quantity of canned kitten food should be smoothly blended with milk replacer and fed to the kitten. As the kitten grows into sixth week, the quantity of milk should be decreased and that of canned food should be increased.
- 6 week old kittens should also be introduced to dry food and water to the kitten. By eight or nine week the kitten will be completely weaned and eating solid food only.
How much do kittens eat? How much should you feed a kitten?
The basic food requirements of kittens are same as of adult cats but kittens should be fed with care and love. They should be given a proper high nutritional diet plan so that they grow into healthy adult cats and live longer. These basic foods are:
Can kittens drink regular milk? Kittens should not be given cow milk for it usually causes an upset stomach and makes them ill. Instead, for the first eight weeks, kittens should be fed mother cat’s milk replacer which is easily available at pet stores. After eight weeks, kittens do not need the milk but they enjoy it, so giving it to them as a treat works well.
Water should always be kept in a small bowl next to food, for the habit of drinking water can easily be developed in young age. It should be made sure that the water bowl is heavy enough not to topple over under the kitten’s weight for they sometimes like to play in the bowl.
Cat food for adult cats will not hurt the kittens but it is not enough to fulfill their nutritional needs. Thus special food should be served. Special kitten food is available commercially along with foods for adult or older cats. It is easy to digest and contains high proteins for growth. If the kitten is raised on natural food then boiled meat should be given along with broth or stock so that kitten eats a well-moisture food. Dry food could be hard on stomach and kitten won’t eat dry food as its hard.
Food Quantity For Kittens in Different Age Groups
Kittens should be fed according to their age. People do not know how much does a kitten eat. Over-feeding a kitten could result into bad digestion and health problems. Kitten could develop habit of over-eating and hence could start gaining weight in the early days. Over-weight kittens will not be playful and active, which would ruin their true cat personality.
Here are the basic guidelines for feeding the kittens in different age groups. It is also recommended to get a diet plan from the Veterinary consultant in case of necessity. Kitten feeding times should also be fixed so that kitten gets trained for meals.
- When kittens are 4- 6 weeks old, they should be fed around quarter to one third cup of milk re placer daily. The feed should be divided into five small meals.
- 7 weeks to 6 month old kittens should be fed one third to one cup of food daily divided into three to four intervals.
- 7 months to one year kittens should be fed one to two cups of food daily and it should be given two times per day.
- Kittens have ultra-sensitive bodies, they have small stomachs so eat in small amounts and they only eat as much as their bodies require thus kittens are fed meals more often than adult cats.
- At around six months, kittens start to resemble grown up cats, but their kitten food should not be changed.
- Kittens have weak and sensitive gums, thus it is advisable to serve them wet meals initially.
- From four to seven months of age, kittens start losing the baby teeth and permanent teeth start coming out. At this time, kittens might start eating less. The owners should not get worried; instead wet foods should be given to the kitten.
Weaning kittens is not hard but definitely it should be done with extreme care. Mostly, it takes quite few months to settle down on certain food for kitten that is being accepted and digested easily.