Kitten weaning: at what age? how to proceed?

 Kitten weaning: at what age? how to proceed?

An essential stage in a cat's life, weaning is the transition period between total dependence on the mother and the first forms of independence. It is important to respect it because it conditions the rest of the kitten's existence

At what age does the weaning of the kitten take place?

From the 3rd or 4th week after the birth of the kittens, their mother accepts breastfeeding more with difficulty; she begins to avoid her offspring by taking refuge in places that are difficult for them to reach. It is during this period that baby teeth begin to appear. This is a good time to teach kittens to discover their mother's food. The latter can still nurse the kittens until they are 8 weeks old, but she ends up pushing them away after 2 months. Alternating with a solid diet during this transitional period can relieve the mother and gradually accustom the kittens to weaning.

Weaning itself marks the beginning of a cat's independence. During the first four weeks of life, the kitten drinks only milk and sleeps most of the day. It is only from the beginning of its second month of existence that it begins to wake up and explore its environment. He then switches from breast milk or formula, liquid food, to a form of solid food such as kibble for kittens. This transitional period allows the kitten to prepare for independence and to relieve the mother little by little, because breastfeeding requires a lot of energy, especially if the litter is large.

Weaning is an essential step that must be respected. It should not be started before four weeks and it is important to take the time necessary for its successful completion, approximately one month.

How to wean the kitten?

Weaning is an essential stage in the life of a cat. Done poorly, it can have significant consequences on his adult life, even jeopardize his survival. It is therefore imperative to follow the process carefully and to accompany it with patience.

The stages of weaning in the life of the kitten

For successful weaning, it is important to know the various stages which constitute the evolution of the kitten in the first times of its life.
  • At the end of the 3rd week, the kitten's milk teeth begin to form. It is therefore ready for the discovery of dry food.
  • Between the 4th and 5th week, the growth of the kitten is slowed down, due to the transition that takes place. Indeed, he consumes less of his mother's energizing milk and he does not yet eat enough solid food to make up for the lack. This is the beginning of the period of vicariance.
  • From the 5th week, the mother neglects her litter more and only gives her little time. She is no longer able to meet the nutritional needs of her kittens. This stage allows its offspring to prepare for autonomy. Sometimes, in the case of reduced spans; the mother can breastfeed her young for one to two weeks longer.
  • Around the 7th week, the growth of the kitten resumes, because it ingests enough solid food to meet its energy needs. The vicariance period ends.
  • From the 8th week, the kitten begins its phase of autonomy. He learns to feed himself and regulate his appetite according to his needs until he grows enough to reach his adult size.

What food to give a kitten to wean it?

The food you give your kitten should be high in energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals. It must be palatable to naturally stimulate its desire and its spontaneous consumption. You should know that it is during this decisive stage that the cat's taste is formed.

The same food can be given to the mother. Indeed, during pregnancy and when she is nursing, the cat needs a diet rich in energy and of high nutritional quality to pass it on to her reach. In addition, kittens tend to imitate their mother, they will more easily adopt the same eating behavior.

No need for various food types, tastes, or brands. Choose a complete, quality, balanced food adapted to the nutritional needs of a kitten. The cat's organism is built during weaning; it grows stronger like that of a child. It is therefore essential to provide it with suitable food to avoid the risk of deficiency.

How often should a kitten be fed during weaning?

During weaning, the kitten must always have easily accessible water and take several meals a day. Ideally, distribute 3 to 5 daily meals, as needed, spread throughout the day. To give him good eating habits, leave the bowl available for a limited time, then remove it and give him nothing to eat before the next meal.

The cat must also learn to drink enough, as it is very susceptible to urinary stones and kidney problems. Always leave clear, freshwater water available to him so that he takes good habits very early.

The right gestures and advice for successful weaning

Here are some tips and good things to do to successfully wean your kitten.

The pre-weaning period

During the pre-weaning period, that is to say during the first four weeks of a kitten's life, it is not necessary to intervene in its diet since its mother takes care of it entirely. On the other hand, make sure that he suckles well and that his birth weight doubles after the first two weeks. If he is growing well and gaining weight normally, everything is fine. If not, intervene by helping her to breastfeed or giving her formula milk to meet her needs. Do not hesitate to seek the advice of a veterinarian.

Feeding the kitten during weaning and controlling its weight

During the weaning period, you can slightly humiliate the kibbles for kittens with a little lukewarm water to make them softer and easier to swallow.

Do not hesitate to weigh your kitten once or twice a week, always at the same time. If his weight stagnates or decreases, be vigilant and make sure he has enough to eat. Change your food if the one you have chosen is of poor quality.

During its weaning, the digestive abilities of the kitten evolve. Indeed, his body digests lactose, which is the sugar contained in milk, less well, and he digests cereal starch better. On the other hand, learning to digest starch is very slow; be careful not to abuse it at the risk of causing diarrhea.

Kitten weaning: at what age? how to proceed?

The particularity of the kitten fed with artificial milk

If you've taken in an abandoned kitten or been forced to formula feed one, it still needs to be weaned like a kitten raised on mother's milk. You will notice from the 4th or 5th week that he bites the nipple of the bottle when he is suckling; this is a good time to offer him a plate of croquettes slightly moistened with milk.

As for a kitten raised on mother's milk, gradually reduce the quantities of milk and increase the ration of kibble each day.

Is it necessary to vaccinate a kitten during its weaning?

The kitten is naturally protected by the antibodies that its mother transmitted to it until its 8th week. It is therefore necessary to vaccinate him around the 8th to the 10th week against typhus (panleukopenia) and coryza.

Kitten education during weaning

It is mainly between its 2nd and 8th week of existence that the kitten learns to socialize and be educated. This period is essential so that he can grow up within a family by having adopted good habits.

The mother is the first to teach socialization to her kitten. This later develops when the animal interacts with other animals and with humans. The kitten learns to discover its environment, wash, relieve itself, to behave well thanks to its mother. Teach him the right gestures too, but go slowly so as not to scare him. Be patient, caring, and a good teacher.

The consequences of weaning the kitten too early

The law of January 1999 prohibits the adoption of a kitten before 8 weeks. To establish this period, the authorities relied on the end of the vicariance period, considering that a kitten can only leave its mother after the rejection phase in order not to experience emotional shock and to have been properly educated by this one.

A kitten prematurely separated from its mother saw it as a child torn from its family. From one day to the next, he is cut off from his mother's warmth, from her smell, from his environment. He is immersed in an environment he does not know, with people he does not know, surrounded by unknown sounds and smells. The trauma is great and unfortunately, incomplete weaning followed by a too early separation leads to disorders in the kitten, and can sometimes lead to it allowing itself to wither. It is therefore essential to respect the 8-week deadline to adopt your kitten.

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