Cat Behavior

How to Wean Kittens From Their Mother? (2024)

Is it possible to wean kittens from their mother, and is this measure reasonable? The sucking reflex is the key to survival. Newborn kittens can only look for the mother’s nipple and eat. What should be done if the kitten is very attached to breast milk? At what age should complementary foods be introduced, and what methods of weaning can be used? We’ll figure it out below.

General Information On Feeding Kittens

Kittens learn to suck in the womb. By the time of birth, babies have only one mission: to determine the direction with the help of ascent and crawl to a power source. The first sips of colostrum help colonize the intestines with microflora so the kitten can digest food. Within 2-3 days, the kittens receive colostrum, after which the cat produces milk.

Cat milk gives kittens all the necessary nutrients and antibodies – temporary immunity. A cat regulates the feeding duration; some mothers feed their babies for up to 15 weeks. Most often, the cat begins to avoid kittens or not to suck at 8-12 weeks. Up to 12 weeks of age, it is advisable not to interfere with feeding kittens!

If the pet refuses kittens earlier, they need to be fed artificially. Kittens are regularly weighed; if some babies are underweight, they are fed with mixtures. In a non-multiple litter, milk should be enough for all the crumbs. If the kittens are six or more, 1-2 of the last-born kittens usually need additional feeding.

At about three weeks of age, kittens become interested in the smells of adult food. If the kittens are fed, they can start complementary feeding from 2 weeks. In the 3rd week of life, the kitten’s teeth erupt, which can cause serious inconvenience to the cat. You need to think about this point in advance and gradually train the kittens to feed so that the mother’s milk is not the main source of nutrition.

Suitable Methods to Wean Kittens from Their Mother

To wean a kitten from sucking a cat without psychological trauma, you need to act gradually and slowly. Your pet will help you because it will not allow kittens with teeth to bite her nipples. Kids will be hungry, so they will be more willing to switch to complementary foods.

Sucking is not only a way to eat but also tactile contact. Most kittens older than three weeks suck their mother just because they lack communication, like the smell, etc. Simply put, kittens are childishly attached to their mother and do not want to change this. If you carefully watch adult kittens, many of them do not suck on the nipple but on the mother’s hair, trample her paws, and purr – this is communication that the mother cat will not mind.

There are several methods for weaning a kitten from sucking:

●    Games – At 3-4 weeks of age, the kids are very playful, and their attention can be attracted by toy noise, rustling, or squeaking. Enter the feeding according to the schedule, and the rest of the time, as soon as the kids rush to the cat, distract them.

●    Time – most kittens cease to suck their mother without interference. This happens after the kittens gain self-confidence and a sense of “self.” A baby can maintain the habit of trampling, but this is also common in many adult cats.

●    A nipple – a kitten is first accustomed to a bottle and mixture, and then, the mixture is poured into a saucer and taught to the baby to lap. In this method, the transition occurs gradually since the smell of food plays a very important role when sucking. You change the usual things in stages, first the smell, then the way.

What to Do if An Adult Kitten Sucks a Cat or Things?

What to do if an adult kitten continues to suck the cat, its body parts, your hands, clothes, and bedding? The crude method recommended by many owners is separation. The kitten and the object of his adoration should be in different rooms for 3-5 days. Perhaps the pet will put up with the loss. And maybe choose a new sucking item. If the cat is the subject of addiction, her nipples can be protected with an ordinary postoperative bandage. Thus, the kitten can communicate with her mother but will not bite her.

However, for a truly effective solution to the problem, its cause must be excluded. Kittens suck everything for one reason only – stress. Strange habits are also inherent in people; for example, many bite their nails, tease or chew their hair, and children can suck their fingers in a dream – all these are methods of complacency.

The problem is that the pet’s calming therapy often ends with bites. The pet sucks a finger and then starts to chew it, and if you try to twitch, it will “gently” hold its hand in its claws. It is especially lucky for those owners to whom pets creep in a dream and suck not their hands but their nose or ear.

When do kittens start walking

The appearance of offspring in a cat brings both joyful moments and certain troubles for the owners. From birth to moving to a new home, kittens depend first on the mother cat and then on the owner. The owner of newborns needs to know when kittens start walking to prevent possible pathologies. When kittens start walking, it depends on the development of the musculoskeletal system, genetic predisposition, breed, individual characteristics, and proper care.

Newborn Kittens

Like everything after birth, kittens are helpless creatures. Their ears are pressed, their eyes are closed, the muscles of the extremities are not developed, and they cannot walk and maintain their body temperature. Therefore, it isn’t easy to orient themselves in space, and they need maternal care. All these functions develop with age, but for now, they are replaced by the mother-cat. In the first days, she feeds them, protects them, licks them, warms them with her warmth, and makes sure that the kittens do not crawl away. At this age, babies should not be picked up without special reason since the cat may refuse to feed them because of someone else’s smell.

In the first days of life, most of the time, animals cannot walk and are in a dream, interrupting it only for eating since they have developed sucking, swallowing reflexes and the reflex of “shelter” (they hide the muzzle and nose in warm and soft places).

From the 8th day of life, cats develop sensory functions and open their eyes (they become fully sighted by two weeks), which adds confidence and develops paws. After 14 days, babies have already begun to rise on their paws and walk.

First Month

The kitten takes its first steps at the age of two weeks. They walk unsteadily and awkwardly; they can fall and stagger. They jump rather than walk. This is how they develop and strengthen their muscles, ligaments, and joints. At the end of the first month (20-25 days), the kitten begins to walk independently. During this period of his life, he already actively walks, runs, jumps, and plays with other kittens and his mother.

Kittens begin to walk on their own at the age of about a month. They already have teeth, and they can eat not only their mother’s milk but also regular food, repeating all the habits of the mother cat. The cats are active, playful, and curious, so the owners should be attentive to this moment and protect them from possible injuries.

The cat is becoming more and more independent, interested in the environment, new smells, and objects, and wants to explore every corner. He already knows how to jump on chairs and bedside tables and has begun eating solid food. From that moment on, he can be taught to socialize (contact with people and children).

When the cat is firmly on its feet and walks, he repeats her actions, including going to the litter box after the mother cat. Therefore, it is important to start teaching him to defecate himself in the litter box at this stage. At this time, the kitten acquires self-control – it stops scratching and biting and controls the playing time. Partially, this function is performed by the mother cat; she, if necessary, can punish the cat (slap on the nose, immobilization).

How to Help a Kitten?

It isn’t easy to keep track of a baby who has just got up on its feet. After all, cats are very curious animals; they try to leave their house all the time and stick their noses wherever they want. A mother cat cannot always look after them, especially if there are several such nimble babies.

  • Provide a safe area for movement by removing dangerous objects within the radius of the stay of pets. (wires, household appliances, chemical hygiene products, piercing and cutting objects, fertilizers, poisonous plants). And excessively slippery surfaces. In the early days, when the kitten has learned to walk. Do not let him out of the box for his safety.
  • If a month after birth, the cat does not stand on its paws and does not walk (or walks uncertainly limps). This is a reason to contact the veterinarian. At such an early age, it is advisable to call the doctor at home to avoid injuring the not-yet-formed limbs during transportation.
  • The reasons why the cat does not stand on its paws and cannot walk :
  • Foot injuries (including postpartum). It hurts the animal to stand on its paws, so it avoids doing it.
  • The curvature of the paws is due to a lack of trace elements (rickets), poor genetics, and dysplasia of the joints.
  • Poisoning. In which an effect on the nervous system is possible, including the innervation of the hind legs.

Jenifer Miona

Dr. Jenifer Miona is a highly skilled and compassionate veterinarian based in Ireland. With a passion for animal health and wellbeing, she has dedicated her career to providing the highest standard of veterinary care to pets and their families. After completing her veterinary degree at the University of Dublin, Dr. Miona went on to specialize in small animal medicine. She has since gained extensive experience in all areas of veterinary care, including routine check-ups, surgical procedures, and emergency treatments. In her clinic, Dr. Miona is known for her gentle and compassionate approach to patient care. She takes the time to listen to the concerns of pet owners and develops personalized treatment plans to meet the unique needs of each animal. Beyond her clinical work, Dr. Miona is active in the veterinary community and stays up-to-date with the latest advances in veterinary medicine through ongoing education and professional development. She is a member of several professional organizations, including the Irish Veterinary Association and the European College of Small Animal Medicine. Outside of her work as a veterinarian, Dr. Miona is an avid animal lover and enjoys spending time with her own pets. She also volunteers at local animal shelters and is committed to promoting animal welfare through community outreach and education.

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