Kittens don’t stay small forever. Neither do they keep drinking milk until they are grown adults. That is why it is important for cat owners to know how and when to wean a kitten. Weaning a kitten is the process of transitioning the kitten from consuming mother’s milk to solid food. It is a very important part of a kitten’s development and growth.
Normally, the mother cat handles the kitten weaning on her own. However, there are instances when she has trouble producing milk, or when you are left with a litter of orphaned kittens.
What are the steps in weaning a kitten? Terry Kaye of PetMD.com shares a few tips on how to do this.
Kittens should be exposed to some mother’s milk, especially within the first 12 to 24 hours of life. The first milk, or colostrum, contains antibodies that the kitten can only absorb during this time. If the mother ends up with an extremely large litter of kittens and cannot produce enough milk, each kitten should still get some. If she cannot produce any milk dues to health issues, another nursing may accept the kittens if they are close to the size of her own.
If no nursing cat is available, you can feed a kitten milk replacement formula using a nursing bottle or syringe. In an emergency, it is recommended to mix a cup of whole milk, an egg yolk, a drop of liquid multivitamin, and three Tums in a blender. This is strictly temporary and is used only to get some nutrition into the kittens.
Bottle feeding lasts for three to four weeks. Always warm the bottle in a cup of hot water and taste test it yourself to check the temperature and to make sure the milk hasn’t soured yet. If you are using powder formula, store unmixed powder in the freezer.
Weaning kittens normally begins at about four weeks of age. When they start biting and chewing on the bottle, they are ready to eat solid food. To begin weaning them, 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.
Read the full article here for more details on weaning kittens.