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When Can Kittens Be Weaned

What If The Mother Cat Is Not Around

How to Wean Kittens

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, stimulate them to potty and clean them often.

When To Start Weaning Kittens And What To Feed Them

All kittens will reach a point when they’re ready to graduate from consuming their mother’s milk and move onto solid kitten food. But it’s important to carefully wean them off the milk before this diet change.

Dr. Carling Matejka, a veterinarian who is a spokesperson for pet food company Solid Gold, told Newsweek: “For the first few weeks of a kitten’s life, they need to rely on their mother’s milk to provide all the nutrients they need.”

Transitioning a kitten onto solid food is a slow, gradual process that usually takes between four to six weeks to complete, she said.

Here, cat experts explain when and how to wean kittens.

Why Do Mother Cats Leave Their Kittens

When the kittens have no other food source than their mothers milk, the mother cats do not leave them for more than an hour or so. They have to go to satisfy their thirst and hunger otherwise, they would not leave them for even a minute. So if you come across a kitten or a set of them, do not assume that they are abandoned, or their mother has died. But if you notice the kittens being unattended for some hours, there is a good chance that they need your help.

However, when it is time, it is natural for cats to leave their kittens for good. This phenomenon is designed by evolution for the purpose of furthering the species. As important as the question, when do mother cats leave their kittens? is, here are some important reasons why mother cats leave them:

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Carefully Introduce Kitten Food

When your kitten is about 4-5 weeks old, youll want to begin the weaning process by carefully introducing your kitty to their food. You can do this by mixing their kitten food with their formula so that they still recognize the taste. You can do this by spreading this kitten food and formula mixture around their mouth and letting them lick it off. You want them to get adjusted to the food on their own terms. Once they get comfortable with the taste of the kitten food, then theyll be more inclined to eat it on their own.

After youve introduced them to their food, then you can put the food in a bowl and have them eat it themselves that way. Make sure you keep a close eye on them during this process and dont force them to eat it at a certain pace. Let them get used to eating the food on their own.

When Should You Start Weaning Kittens

Weaning Kittens From Bottle

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In its most basic sense, weaning is a mammal’s progression from solely drinking their mother’s milk to eating solid food. Cats are particularly adept at weaning their young, so usually, humans don’t have to intervene very much, aside from providing the food.

Unfortunately, sometimes mother kitties abandon their young or fall ill and are unable to nurse. For these reasons and many more, you may find yourself bottle-feeding a young kitten and having to wean them yourself. While bottle-feeding is a rewarding experience, there’s a time in a young kitten’s life where they need to start eating real food. Luckily, we’re here to guide you through the weaning process. We’ll teach you when to start weaning, what foods to buy, and how to wean a kitty successfully.

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Preparing Your Home For The New Kitten

Before bringing your new kitten home, you have to put certain things in order. The first is kitten-proofing your home. Cats will get to everything if not kept away from it. This may mean placing plants and objects above their reach and hiding away things that could attract it. You should also put away chemicals and other potentially toxic materials from within reach of the kitten.Get one or two cat litter boxes, some food bowls, drinking bowls, and toys. Also, get good quality food, scratching post, and name tag ready before the kittens arrival.

What Is Involved In Weaning Kittens

A newborn kitten is entirely dependent on their mothers, just like a human baby, being provided with warmth, physical protection and nutrition by the mother cat. Weaning is defined as accustomising an animal to managing without something which they have become dependent on.

With young animals, the primary definition means to accustomizing the kitten to feeding itself, rather than being depending on their mother for nutrition via the mothers milk. However, a more comprehensive definition would include the concept of becoming independent of their mother in other ways as well .

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When Do Indoor Cats Stop Relying Solely On Their Mother’s Milk

Its mother’s milk is essential for its nourishment and growth, from birth until it’s weaned. A few days after the kitten is born, it receives protection against infectious diseases through the milk of its mother, called colostrum, which contains high concentrations of immunoglobulins and transmits antibodies that strengthen its immune system.

When Can Kittens Be Weaned Four Weeks Of Age

WEANING KITTENS – Both with Mother and Bottle Fed

Home » Pets » Cats » Kittens » When Can Kittens be Weaned Four Weeks of Age

Kittens feed on their mothers milk for a certain amount of weeks after being born so that they can get the proper nutrients necessary to grow strong and move into the next stage of their lives. The mothers milk is a special condensed milk called colostrum, which contains antibodies to help fight disease. It is also very high in essential proteins.

The mothering process can sometimes be confusing to a human who has never owned a cat that has given birth to kittens in their home. The average cat owner doesnt know much about how cats communicate with each other, especially a mother to its children. It is uncanny how a mother cat is able to teach her young basic principles such as how to use the litter box and how to clean themselves in such a short amount of time. One question that many new kitten owners have is, when can kittens be weaned? Weaning is when you take the kittens off of the milk and start feeding them solid foods. It is a gradual process that requires some patience. Here are a few indications that it is time to start adjusting your new kittens to their new diet of dry cat food and meats.

Number of Weeks

When the Kittens Develop Teeth

When Their Mother Gets Nasty

When Their Mother Leaves

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How To Start The Weaning Process

Weaning a kitten can be quite tricky, especially if youre doing it for the first time.

But not to worry, we are here to make the process easy and hassle-free.

To start with, ensure you mix your kitten food with formula.

This way, your kitten can easily recognize the taste.

Also, you can try smearing the mixture around your kittens mouth using your finger and allow it to lick it off.

Once it recognizes and gets used to the taste, it will always want more.

And if things go well, as they should, try introducing your kitten to lapping from a bowl.

But make sure you watch out, so your kitten doesnt lap too much.

If it laps too much, it could end up inhaling the mixture and come down with pneumonia.

Between the 4th and 6th week of commencing the weaning process, gradually transition your kitten to nibbling dry food while supplementing with the recommended formula.

You can kick off the process with canned or dry kitten food.

Feel free to mix the food with a lot of water and reduce the water as your kitten matures.

They May Grow Up To Be Aggressive

Playtime with mom and their littermates is more than just fun and games. Kittens who are separated from their mother and littermates too early arent properly socialized, so they dont learn how to interact with other cats properly. Without mom there keeping a watchful eye on her roughhousing kittens, they may bite or scratch too hard.

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What Are Some Tips To Encourage The Weaning Process

While weaning can be challenging, remember that kittens are young animals. Donât be surprised if your kitten wants to step in the bowl, bat the pieces, or spill the saucer. Play is a normal and healthy way for them to explore their environment, so be patient and donât rush the process. Things may get messy, so make sure to keep your kitten clean after each feeding.

Show Sources

Alley Cat Allies: âCaring for Neonatal Kittens,â âHow Old Is That Kitten? Kitten Guide: 3 Weeks,ââHow Old Is That Kitten? Kitten Guide: 4 Weeks.â

ASPCA: “Cat Nutrition Tips.”

Is It Ok To Give Kittens Away At Six Weeks

How Old Are Kittens When They Are Weaned

At six weeks, some kittens still suckle their mothers. Their weaning is not yet complete at six weeks. The socialization, teaching of survival skills, elimination and general development are still on-going at six weeks. It is therefore not advisable to give kittens away at six weeks.

In fact, in some countries and states, there are laws against giving out kittens at such a young age. Even if you are taking care of the kitten in the absence of the mother, you still need to continue to do so beyond six months. In either case, you need to wait till the kitten is at least eight weeks before giving it out.

Giving out a kitten at six weeks can have adverse effects on the kitten. For one, it could lead to health challenges for the kitten in future. It could also affect the kittens behavioral pattern later in life like not knowing how to groom or hunt for food.

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What To Feed A Kitten

Weaning a kitten is the process of transitioning the kitten from mothers milk to solid food. Its an important part of the kittens development, and needs to be done at the right time and in the right way. Normally the queen, or mother cat, will handle kitten weaning on her own. But when the queen has trouble producing milk, or when a litter of kittens is orphaned, we need to intervene. Here are some tips for smooth and successful kitten weaning.

Why The Wait Is Necessary

As mentioned earlier, felines, like other pets, learn the essentials better early on in life. And this they learn from playing and socializing with their mother and siblings. When separated too early, kittens miss out on this crucial learning stage. Plus, kittens may become insecure about their new surroundings and adapt poorly. Below, Ill outline some major reasons you should not prematurely separate a kitten from its mother and siblings.

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Before Your New Kitten Arrives

Kittens are naturally shy animals, and in an unfamiliar environment, it could be amplified. Be patient with your kitten when it arrives. Be gentle, kind, and let it explore all it wants. While it would need a warm area to sleep, you should also note that extremely hot areas can be a health threat even for a young cat.

Another thing you want to do is schedule an appointment with your vet for a thorough health check and to update your kittens immunizations.

Weaning Kittens: How And When It Happens

When and How to Wean Kittens

If you are going to adopt a kitten, or if you have a cat with kittens, you will most probably have wondered how they should be weaned.

Weaning your kitten is the stage when she stops drinking her mother’s milk and starts feeding on solid foods. It’s a very exciting and adventurous phase that’s worth experiencing with your kitten.

In this article we’ll talk about how and when kittens are weaned so you don’t have any more doubts about this wonderful stage.


Kittens spend the first weeks of their lives feeding exclusively on their mother’s milk. From the first milk, called colostrum, they acquire immunity to many diseases through immunoglobulins or antibodies transmitted to them by their mother, which keep them protected for up to six weeks. At this age, they begin to lose the immunity transmitted to them by their mother and the vaccination period begins.

At 4-5 weeks, their first teeth begin to appear and kittens begin to taste solid food. From that age onwards, they eat more and more solid food and drink less and less milk, while the mother starts to produce less.

Weaning kittens ends at around 8-10 weeks old and is the ideal age for adoption. During this time with the mother, the kitten has learned how to look after herself and relate to her environment, a time known as the socialization period.


If you have a kitten of this age, here are some things to help her at this stage:

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How To Wean Kittens

To begin weaning a kitten, mix the kitten food with formula so they recognize the taste. Smear the mixture around their mouth with your finger and let them lick it off. Once they get used to the taste, theyll seek it out elsewhere. Then you can introduce them to lapping from a bowl. Monitor them so they dont lap too fast, and never push their face into the bowl, which could cause them to inhale the mixture and develop pneumonia.

Between the fourth and sixth week, gradually transition the weaning kittens to dry food, supplementing with formula if needed. Use canned food or dry kitten food mixed with water at first, add a lot of water, and then reduce the amount of water as the kitten matures.

A general schedule for kitten weaning might be:

  • Weeks 4-5: Give wet or moistened dry food, mixed with formula to form a slush. Supplement with formula if the kitten is not taking to the new food, to make sure it gets enough calories.
  • Weeks 5-6: The weaning kittens should start to nibble on the kibble, slightly moistened with water.
  • Weeks 6-7: By now, the kitten weaning process is complete, and they should be eating all solid food by week seven.

About Dr Pete Wedderburn Dvm

Dr Pete Wedderburn qualified as a vet from Edinburgh in 1985 and has run his own 4-veterinarian companion animal practice in County Wicklow, Ireland, since 1991. Pete is well known as a media veterinarian with regular national tv, radio and newspaper slots, including a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph since 2007. Pete is known as “Pete the Vet” on his busy Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, regularly posting information on topical subjects and real-life cases from his clinic. He also write a regular blog at His latest book: Pet Subjects, was published by Aurum Press in 2017.

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Consider This Your Guide To Weaning Kittens From Milk Or Formula To Solids

By the time you usually bring home a brand-new kitten at eight to nine weeks old, theyve already gone through a significant transition: being weaned from milk to solid foods. However, you may find yourself in the trenches of new kitten parenthood at an even earlier stage. If you are fostering a kitten or have found a newborn, you have likely been bottle-feeding them milk or watching their mother nurse.

In these cases, you may wonder, When do kittens start eating food? Weaning is usually a natural process, particularly if the Mom is involved. If youre bottle-feeding, the process may be a bit trickier, and you may have to help lead it. Regardless of your situation, understanding what to expect can help you know when to have kibble and water on hand as a kitten gets ready to wean. Consider this your guide.

How To Care For Newborn Unweaned Kittens

Adorable 2 Sibling Kittens

Born unable to hear or see, newborn kittens are entirely dependent on their mothers milk for nourishment.

Born unable to hear or see, newborn kittens are entirely dependent on their mothers milk for nourishment. Around four weeks of age, they will gradually begin to eat solid food, and they are fully weaned around eight weeks of age. The mother is also busy round the clock protecting her kittens and keeping them warm and clean, teaching them basic socialisation skills and helping them to urinate and defecate in the first three weeks. Should you come across a kitten she seems to have left behind, or if your cat is unable to care for her litter, you may need to look after the kittens yourself. In this case you will have to take over very quickly, especially if your kittens eyes are still closed, which means that the kittens are less than two weeks old. Taking over the mother cats role is a full-time job and requires a great deal of care and patience, especially in the first four weeks, but it can be very rewarding. Follow Perfect Fits practical guidelines on how to care for unweaned kittens to help your little felines grow into happy, healthy cats.

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