Why a Mother Cat Won't Wean Her Kitten

Mother cats instinctually know when their kitten is ready to wean.
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Weaning is such a rewarding experience that some momcats simply don’t want to give it up. Kittens should be weaned around 4 weeks of age, according to the ASPCA. Weaning is normally handled entirely by the mother cat, but you can help get your kitten ready by introducing solid foods.

When to Wean

Momcat may not want to wean her kitten if she feels that he is not yet ready for solid food. Ideally, kittens should be weaned when they are 3 to 4 weeks of age. Your kitten may be ready if his eyes are opened, he is able to focus and he can stand steadily on his feet. It’s important not to attempt weaning your kitten too early. Leave it up to momcat to decide when her kitten is ready to take the leap from her milk to solid food.

Starting the Weaning Process

Removing kittens from their mother too early can have adverse effects on their health and social skills. Kittens must observe their mother as they learn to eat, play and use their litter box. When a kitten is 4 weeks of age, place him in a separate area for short periods of time to decrease his dependency on momcat’s milk. By week 4 and 5, momcat should gradually cut down on nursing time.

Introducing Milk and Solid Food

To help get your kitten attracted to his new source of nourishment, offer a shallow dish of milk replacement. Dip a clean finger into the milk and allow the kitten to lick it off. Solid food can be introduced to kittens by creating a gruel of high-quality canned or dry kitten food, mixed with milk replacement. As your kitten gets used to eating solid foods, reduce the amount of milk replacement. By 10 weeks of age, your kitten should be able to eat unmoistened food like a champ.

Kitten Behavior

Kittens are feisty creatures and do not always have the best table manners. Expect your kitten to frolic through his food bowl, licking the goodness from his paws. He may not understand that its food just yet, but he will soon enough. Keep your kitten clean after his messy feedings by washing his face and paws with a moist, soft cloth. Dry him with a towel to keep him warm. With a little help from you and momcat, your kitten will be ready for solo eating in no time.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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