When do kittens start eating solid food is a very common question. Whether your cat has given birth or you’re bottle feeding kittens, this is important.
In this post you’ll discover everything you need to know about weaning kittens onto solids. You’ll learn how to wean bottle fed kittens, as well as the best age for introducing solid food.
Plus, we’ll look at the best type of food for your kitten, as well as how much water she needs. Also, a few common myths you may have heard of, and lots more.
It’s believed there are over 96 million pet cats in the USA, and over 5 million female kitties in the UK. So you can imagine how important it is to neuter cats before they reproduce!
However, that topic is for another time as we focus on weaning kittens. So without further ado lets take a look at the weaning stage.
What Is Weaning?
Weaning is a process all mammals go through including humans. I simply means the gradual introduction of solid foods from milk.
By around 6-8 weeks old kittens should be completely weaned and feeding on kitten food. You can help the transition by offering soft or mushy gruel.
When Do Kittens Start Nursing?
If your cat has recently given birth, she’ll instinctively know what to do. In fact you should resist touching newborns unless you spot a poorly one.
Ideally, you should leave mother and babies alone for at least the first two weeks. Providing all is well, the kittens will start to suckle in as little as one hour after birth.
Despite having eyes closed they can find their mother. The warmth of her body will help newborns find their way.
By around 3 weeks, you’ll find the kittens begin taking an interest in their mother’s food. Of course, not all kittens are the same.
You may discover some develop at a slower rate, but don’t be alarmed. This is completely natural.
By around 4 weeks, your kittens should be ready to start weaning. This is when you can start introducing them to a mushy mix of water and kitten food.
Weaning Bottle Fed Kittens
Bottle feeding newborn kittens can be very demanding. If you’ve found yourself bottle feeding a rejected or abandoned kitten you’ll know what I mean.
In fact, you’ll discover it’s a full time job with exhausting night feeds. However, you’ll be rewarded with the satisfaction of rearing a happy and healthy kitty!
If you need to bottle feed newborn kittens you must always use kitten milk replacer. This is specially formulated to be as near to mother’s milk as possible.
You can also buy bottle feeding kits for small animals, providing you with all the necessary equipment. Ones such as Lixit come with two bottles, a selection of teets, and cleaning brush.
Keeping everything clean and sterile is just as important for bottle feeding kittens as it is for human babies.
How To Introduce Your Kitten To Solid Food
As previously mentioned, 4 weeks is the best time to start weaning a kitten. This applies to both kittens nursed by their mother, and those you’ve bottle fed.
Just like with human babies, introducing solid foods can be a messy process! In fact, you’ll probably find your kitten plays with her food as if it’s a toy.
Starting with a mushy mix of kitten food and water is a good way of getting young kittens used to feeding on solids.
NEVER be tempted to mix cows milk with food as many cats are lacto intolerant. Doing so could give your poor kitty diarrhea.
By the time kittens are 5 weeks old their premolar teeth are starting to emerge. This means crunchy kibble can soon become a favorite!
As kittens first teeth begin to appear they drink less of their mother’s milk. You should also notice weaning has completely finished by the time your kittens are 8-10 weeks old.
Which Is The Best Type Of Food For Kittens?
You should only offer your kitten food that’s specially formulated. This is because young kittens are bundles of energy, requiring higher amounts of protein and carbs.
In addition, kitten food is formulated to provide all the essential nutrients required for a growing cat. Opting for good quality kitten food will be always be best for your little one.
You don’t have to spend a fortune, but simply buy the best you can afford. Ensuring your kitten has a healthy diet is vital for her development.
Strong bones and teeth require certain nutrients such as calcium and Vitamin D. Also essential fatty acids including Omega 3 help support your kitten’s skin and coat.
Ideally, offer both wet and dry food. This helps broaden your kitten’s palate and introduces her to different textures.
how much water should your kitten drink?
While all cats need drinking water, very young kittens up until 4 weeks old get all their nourishment from mother’s milk.
It’s only when weaning starts you’ll find kittens taking an interest in water. At first, it will probably involve splashing their paws in the water bowl.
However, as your kitten (or kittens) begin eating solids, it’s important to provide a bowl of fresh drinking water. Up until a kitten is three months old she should be drinking 70 ml of water each day.
Then, from six old this should be increased to 135ml. Once your kitten is over a year old, the recommended daily intake should be between 200-300ml depending on size.
You may also find your cat drinks more in hot weather. This is completely normal.
Avoid plastic water bowls as they can attract germs. Instead, opt for metal or ceramic.
You could even consider a pet water fountain as cats are attracted to running water. If you’ve been a cat parent for any length of time you’ll know what I mean!
Dripping taps can be a great incentive for drinking water as well as play. This is exactly why water fountains encourage cats to drink.
Weaning is an important process for kittens, and can vary in time. However, 4 weeks is about the usual time when solids can be introduced.
Offering mushy, soft foods when your kitten is ready gets her used to eating. Although, she’ll probably paddle her paws in the dish at first, she’ll soon get the hang of it.
Kittens grow extremely fast and your little ones will have bundles of playful energy. Whether you’re caring for one kitten or a whole litter you must be mindful of potential dangers.
Once a kitten reaches 8 weeks old it’s usually finished weaning and no longer drinking mother’s milk. However, it’s still important to allow at least another 4 weeks before you consider rehoming.
This is to allow socialisation, an important part of a kitten’s development. Playing with litter mates, and learning habits and behaviors is vital.
I hope I’ve answered your question “when do kittens start eating solids?” As you can see, it’s a gradual process from nursing, to weaning, and finally eating solid food.
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Wishing you a purrfect day:)