The weaning period (transitioning your kitten from its mother’s milk to solid cat food) is one of the most critical phases in the life of a cat. During this time, kittens often need extra care to make sure they receive the proper nutrients in proper quantities, and to keep them on track for gaining independence.
How can you wean a stubborn kitten?
You can wean a stubborn kitten following these steps:
1. Isolate the stubborn kitten frequently.
Remove the stubborn kitten daily from its mother cat for a few hours to reduce its dependency on its mother’s milk and her presence. You have to prepare separate foods, water and litter for your kitten. When the kitten realizes it’s able to survive by itself, it will feel more comfortable being away from its mother.
2. Use the finger feeding method.
You can use your fingers to imitate mother cat’s nipples. This method works well for kittens that feed on its mother’s milk alone. To your kitten, your finger will look like the nipple of its mom. As you hover your finger around the mouth of your kitten long enough, it will suck on it. You can place bits of food on your finger then gently push it forward the lip of your cat which should help the kitten to learn to eat solid food.
3. Add water into food moderately.
There are kittens who are exceptionally stubborn. What you can do in this situation, is to mix its food with water and have a semisolid mixture. This should help since the consistency of the mixture will be similar to its mother’s milk. When it’s time to feed your kitty a meat, it will not be so hard for your pet to move from milk. Reduce the amount of water mixed in the food gradually to allow your kitten to adjust to its new meal.
When to wean kittens?
Normally, the weaning process begins when kittens are around four weeks old and is usually completed when they reach eight to ten weeks. If you are weaning an orphaned kitten, remember that weaning should not start at too early of an age. When a kitten’s eyes are open and able to focus, and it is steady on its feet, it can be safely introduced to solid food.
Why is weaning needed?
The weaning process is actually ordinary and natural, especially when handled by the mother cat. Like any good mother, she should instinctively know what to do and when. So why do pet owners have to give extra hands in weaning?
Understanding stubborn kittens
You may notice some kittens who can hardly be detached from its mom’s teat. There are reasons why some kittens insist on depending on milk instead of moving to solid food. Here are few of them:
Every cat has a different personality. While some goes with the flow, others are unwilling to be pusharounds. This is why cat owners should see their pets as individuals. In weaning, some kittens need special attention. You need to guide them and repeat the process until they obey.
Cats can easily notice changes in the surrounding. When a kitten finds a different type of meal in the form of solid foods instead of its mom’s milk, it may have a hard time transitioning. If the kitten is uncertain, it will be difficult to convince it to eat solid foods. To avoid stressing your pet, wean it gradually and carefully.
Reminders in weaning
Start at the right age
Be careful in weaning at a very young age. You can start when the kitten is around four weeks of age. However, some kittens may need some more time in their mother’s milk due to health issues or differences in weight or size. Use your best judgment and follow the kitten’s lead to determine the right time to wean. If you see any changes in your pet’s health or energy during this process, immediately return to feeding it milk.
Get the right kitten food
When choosing food for your kitten, make sure it’s made for kittens. Kitten food is higher in calories, fat and protein which the little felines need to grow big and strong. Wet food is the healthiest choice to begin with given its moisture content to keep the kittens healthy and hydrated. See our article on how much wet food to feed a kitten for information on dosage. Choose healthy kitten kibble for kittens who prefer dry food.
Not all kittens are the same. Treat your pet as an individual, give attention to stubborn ones and extend your patience as you wean. Check on them if there are changes on their health and energy, and adjust if necessary. If complications happen, it’s best to visit the vet.