How To: Weaning Kittens

 

Weaning kittens from formula, or mother’s milk, to solid food will need be done if you have a pregnant cat or have found baby kittens, perhaps abandoned, then you will need to learn the process of . This is generally done as a gradual process. You do not want to force them to eat just solids from the start.

Kitten Formula

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This should be started when the kittens are around four weeks old. The process will usually last about four weeks from there. The kittens should be fully weaned by eight weeks to ten weeks of age. If you do not know how old it is, or if they are developing slowly, a good guideline is to wait until their eyes are open, they can focus, and they are very steady on their feet.

If the mother is around, then you will want her to be involved in weaning. Naturally, she will take over, as this is her job. If the mother is not around, then they will be dependent on you to wean them.

The first step you will have to take is getting them used to drinking from a bowl. If you have been using formula, then pour this into the bowl, if not, go out and buy milk replacement, or kitten formula. DO NOT USE COW’S MILK. Cow’s milk will cause indigestion in the kittens and will not provide them with the nutrients that they need.

Cat Bowl

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Encourage the kitten to drink from the bowl, especially if they begin mewing like they are hungry. If you have the mother cat, she will help by dragging the kittens near the bowl. To get the kitten to drink from the bowl, dip your finger into the formula and let the kitten sniff it. Lead the kitten to the bowl. DO not place the kitten’s head into the bowl. Simply let her smell it for herself.

 

After the kitten has learned to lap the formula from the bowl, you will want to begin mixing in a little bit of wet food. Heat it up just a bit so it is slightly warmer than room temperature. Alternatively, you can mash up a high quality dry kitten food and mix this with the milk instead. You can use your blender  if you like. Gradually use less formula and more solid food until the kitten is eating solid food on her own. During this process you can still supplement the kitten’s feeding with a bottle, or she may still go for her mother’s milk, this is fine.

The kitten may try to play in or walk into the food bowl. This is fine! Let them do it. They will lick the food off of themselves, realize it is food, and eat it. You will have to dry her off quickly after she has eaten to prevent pneumonia. However, you do have to be careful. If you remove her too quickly from the food, she may think she is in trouble.

As you can see, it is not very difficult to wean kittens, though you do need to be patient!


Comments

  1. caren paluch says:

    thank you for your information I took in a beautiful stray cat she was always use to being outside so I let her out on my balcony one day and she jumped off and was gone for three days next thing I know she waas having kittens anyhow I have three of the kittens spoken for and I am trying to prepare them to go to there new owners and I did not know how to wean them. When do they start going in there litter boxes,please let me know thank you Caren Paluch

    • Once they are able to truly navigate their surroundings, and you feel like they can be trusted to roam your house, you can begin to litter-train your kittens. If the mother cat uses the litter box consistently, then she will usually teach the kittens how to use the box by herself, so you may not even need to worry about it!

  2. I took in an abandoned kitten, and have been weaning her. She loves the canned kitten food. And she started using the miniature litter box I made for her on her third day with me. Too bad human babies aren’t as easy to potty-train!

  3. Sue Brewer says:

    I have 2 kittens that are 3 months old. They were completely weaned and litter trained when their MOTHER WAS HIT AND KILLED. Now they are nursing on our dog. They caused her to get milk with a false pregancy. Our vet checked her and said “you have to get her to stop nursing it wii cause female troubles” but didn’t tell us what to do and nothing we’ve tried has worked HELP

    • Try as hard as you can to separate the dog from the kittens. Feed the kittens wet food. You may wish to supplement this with formula, but you do not have to. They may not eat for a day or two at the start of the separation, this is okay, just make sure they don’t go much longer than that. Once they are eating regularly on their own, start having them spend time with the dog with you there. Just a couple minutes at a time. If they try to nurse, separate them and/or spray them with water. Slowly build up the amount of time they can spend with the dog. Eventually, they should be able to spend time with the dog and eat their own food. Good luck!

  4. I have taken in a stray who just gave birth to 4 kittens. How do I get help in getting them all fixed? Thanks, Pat

  5. my cat had kittens. they are 3 weeks old. our cat (momma) left them outside and layed in front of the box. she wouldnt nurse. but then the kittens walk to her (Their first time out in the world) and she nursed them, right there. the’re so cute!

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