Breast milk is, in all mammals, a fundamental source of nutrients for proper development in these early stages of life, and it will lay a good foundation for the rest of the life cycle of all mammals.
Although it is the same in all cases (except in humans since we cannot fend for ourselves at that stage), speaking specifically about cats, at the moment that it reaches a certain level of development, weaning occurs with respect to the mother.
Although there are differences in the previous process (if the cat is an orphan and was bottle-fed or fed by its mother through breast milk ), when it comes to weaning, the process will always be the same.
Let’s get to know all the information about it, as well as some recommendations to make the best possible process of weaning the cat. Let’s get started!
What is weaning?
The lactation stage is fundamental, as the colostrum in breast milk is made up of immunoglobulins, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, water, and other components that have the nutrients that are needed for the optimal development of puppies.
Weaning is something that must happen, and it is that stage in which the cat stops drinking breast milk to start feeding on solid food.
This stage is quite exciting for humans since there are many challenges that must be faced, but it is very attractive to live with the cat.
At what age is it better to carry out weaning in cats?
The doubt about knowing the age at which a cat should be weaned is very common, and it is essential to know it before being in charge of a litter or orphan cat.
In the event that the kittens are with their mother, this process will take place naturally, so it is very likely that it will not be necessary to intervene.
The cats begin to taste some of the food from their mother’s feeder, so their taste for these foods becomes greater.
In the case of an orphaned cat, this will be a process that will take place when they begin to show some interest in the food that we as humans consume.
In that sense, the weaning of these little cats is at four weeks of life, it may take a few more days to start.
Of course, the process does not happen suddenly, it takes time, and it happens until they stop consuming breast milk (or in the case of orphans, formula milk for infants ) for solid food.
To know the age of a cat that you saw being born, obviously, there are no complications, but when the kitten is rescued from the street, knowing the age to wean them can be complicated, but in any case, until you know the age, weaning should not be done.
How to determine the age of a cat
When it comes to age in years, this is easier, but here the important thing is to determine the weeks, so in any case, it is better to go to a veterinarian who can help you with it.
Likewise, there are certain details that you can easily notice at home to find out the age of your feline, for example, its teeth and whether or not they have come out, as well as the weight and magnitude of the reactions it can present in certain situations.
How long does it take for a cat to wean?
As we mentioned before, kittens begin their weaning from the fourth week of life, but this process itself can extend until the eighth or tenth week, so all this can take from a month to a month and a half to complete. achieve complete weaning.
So, it is a month in which maximum attention should be paid to the cat‘s diet since it will be a combination of breast milk and solid food that is given to the little feline.
The best thing to do before experimenting on your own is to maintain constant communication with your vet to ensure a smooth transition to solid food with a healthy kitten.
And of course, the mother’s diet should also be of quality, so the cat will benefit.
Also remember that during this interval of time it is of vital importance that you nourish your cat well after giving birth, as this way she will be able to produce the milk that the little ones require.
How to correctly wean cats?
In general, it is essential to let the cats spend as much time as possible with the mother (around the seventh-eighth week), until weaning is finished or has finished (tenth week).
In any case, it is from the fifth week when solid food can be introduced.
Likewise, below, we give you a small guide of what should be done according to the weeks of life:
- Week 4-5: The cat will still be lactating, so you can offer it a little specific breath for its age, and, to make it have a very soft texture, it can be moistened with formula milk.
- Week 5-6: You can start with the introduction of feed croquettes directly moistened with water so that the cat can nibble a little.
- Weeks 6 and 7: Here, basically, what was mentioned above is continued, only that it will be less and less necessary to moisten the food, and by weeks 7-8 onwards, weaning will be coming to an end, so, at the end of, the kitten will be ready to eat solid.
In general, eating habits begin before the sixth and eighth week, so you should take advantage of this stage to lay a good nutritional foundation.
In addition, when adopting a kitten you should know the food that was given to it at weaning (if you did not) since you will have to give it the same so that it adapts better to its new home.
How to choose the best food to wean a cat?
This point is quite personal, although it is true that it must be a quality diet since this stage lays the foundations for the healthy growth of the kitten.
It is essential that the food has a pleasant taste, that it stimulates your appetite and can easily differ.
On the other hand, it must be specific to their age, since it will meet their nutritional needs for that age.
What happens when we wean early? Consequences for the cats and for the mother
When weaning happens naturally, it is like a type of life learning, and it is that the mother, by not allowing the kittens to suck, is teaching them to tolerate that frustration, something valid for their adulthood.
Weaning should be done in the best way, and if it is done early enough, it can increase the aggressiveness of cats and their stereotyped behaviors, something that is related to their level of tolerating frustration.
In addition, there are related problems that we discuss below:
- Lack of nutrients causes behaviors such as eating objects, be it fabrics, plastics, and more.
- Low defenses.
- Easier to get sick.
- Trouble eating on your own.
- Little socialization.
- Fear and lack of confidence.
- Few grooming habits.
- Little control when playing, such as biting, scratching, and others.
Therefore, it is essential that this weaning process takes the necessary time, and that means letting the cat spend as much time as possible with the mother, and if it is an orphan, against the help of a veterinarian to avoid falling into trouble.