When it comes to talking about the safest place on earth, it is surely a mother’s womb. The sense of security and nourishment that is present there is unmatched. even after you are born, it’s the breast milk that is responsible for producing antibodies in the baby’s immune system and thus, making it strong enough to fight the smallest of infections. Breast milk is very important for the growth and health of a baby. This is applicable to all mammals. But there are some instances when the mother is not able to feed the baby. There could be a plethora of reasons for this but the most common reasons are the following:
1. When the mother is not able to produce milk after the birth of the baby.
2. When there are a lot of babies to be fed (observed in animals).
3. The mammary glands are swollen and thus painful during feeding.
In animals, the mother’s milk is advised only for a week unlike in humans where breast milk should be fed till at least six months. After this time, the mother preferably switches to weaning. Weaning is the process through which a mother introduces her kid to external food other than the breast milk after a few weeks or months after their birth. In case of cats, weaning comes out to be a natural process. Cats produce milk for 12 weeks after the birth of the kittens and there are chances that the kittens nurse from their mothers in this entire period. Initially the kittens would nurse and nap for almost all the time. When the kittens would start teething, they would eat from their mother’s bowl trying to imitate her. After the fourth week of nursing, mother cats start cutting down the nursing time of the kittens by not feeding them and making them habitual of eating from the bowl.
Why is Weaning Needed in Cats?
Weaning is very important in cats for their healthy and proper development. As the kitten’s start growing, the milk from the cats is not able to suffice all the nutritional needs of the kitten and thus, weakening their immunity. A mother cat can naturally start the weaning process with her kittens, but in case of any of the reasons mentioned above, weaning needs to be done manually. Difference is still observed between kittens that are fed by mothers versus manually. They are socially more accepting and adapting than kittens that are fed without the warmth of a mother.
What should be done Before the weaning process?
Before beginning the weaning process, it is always advised that the kitten should be fed the other’s milk. But in case the kitten is separated from the mother at birth or other reasons of not being breast-fed, kittens can be fed with formula milk that is specially prepared for them. In case the formula milk is not available, it can be easily made at home. Mix a cup of whole milk with egg yolk and vitamin tablets with a little amount of water. Mix these well to make milk like consistency and feed it to the kitten using a bottle feeder. But this method is to be used only in case of an emergency. When using a bottle feeder, always check the temperature of milk before feeding it to the kitten. Formula milk should be fed to the kitten after every three hours or according to the hunger patterns observed. Kittens should never be fed with cow milk as it can lead to diarrhoea.
Which is Suitable Age to start weaning?
The suitable age to start weaning a kitten is after four weeks of their birth. You could easily observe the correct time for weaning from the teeth marks on the bottle feeder. Kittens start to develop their teeth during this period and thus, start chewing on the feeder. Weaning should not begin at a very early age. This is because the secretion of digestive enzymes for external foods are produced only at an age of 3 weeks in kittens. Thus, wait for the kitten to be able to stand stably on its own or show visible signs of hunger even after feeding milk.
How does a Mother cat wean her Kittens?
Gradually after some time, the kittens would start to eat from their mother’s bowl. The mother cat would push them away till a few days so that they can first take the proper nursing. After a period of 4 weeks, mother cats allow their kittens to eat from their own bowl. While their kittens eat from their bowl, mother kittens try to keep them warm in their embrace, thus, providing a comfortable temperature for the kittens to start weaning. When a mother cat weans a kitten, it takes about 8 months to be completely weaned in contrast to 10 months while weaning manually.
How to wean a Kitten Manually?
Kittens will not suddenly start eating the food that is given to them. In the beginning, mix a little amount of kitten food with the formula milk so that they slowly develop the taste for it. After sometime, try smearing the foods over their lips so that they recognize the taste whenever they lick it. When the kitten is 4 to 5 weeks, they should be given proper moistened food mixed with their formula milk. After this, you can start weaning the kitten with dry food. If the kitten denies this canned food, add a lot of water to it. Keep reducing the amount of water added as the kitten grows.
How to wean a Stubborn Kitten Yourself?
This is usual scenario observed when people start weaning their kittens. They are too stubborn to consume anything else than milk. Thus, it becomes very difficult for the cat or the owner to feed these stubborn fur balls. There are many reasons due to which the kitten might be avoiding food:
1. Unfamiliarity: This is the most common reason due to which kittens avoid food. When they are introduced to canned food and they have to lick it from the bowl, they freak out because of not finding the familiarity of the nipple of their mother. Thus, it is open advised to give sufficient time in weaning so that the kitten does not have to remain under constant stress.
2. Separation: Separation from their mother at a very early age due to an accident or adoption can lead the kitten to be stubborn. Thus, kittens should only be adopted when they are older than a month.
3. Digestive issues: Observe the patterns of your kitten there might be chances that your kitten is avoiding a certain type of food. This is because there might be some issues with the digestion. Thus, it is advised to either change the brand of the food that you offer or consult your vet.
4. Teething: Behavioural changes due to teething can also cause stubbornness in your kitten. Helping them teeth better can surely solve the problem. Teethers for kittens are available in the market but you can make them at home too. Chew toys can be made using socks easily and a video representation is given below:
So, the main process begins. The following methods are the ways through which you can wean a stubborn kitten:
1. For kittens that are not accepting anything other than their mother’s milk, try the finger feeding method. Mix a little amount of kitten food with the formula milk and feed it to the kitten imitating your finger as a nipple. You do not have to push your finger into the kitten’s mouth. Just linger it around the kitten lips for a while and it will automatically start sucking it.
2. If you have the cat as well as the kitten at your home, isolate the kitten from its mother for some time of the day. Try feeding it food and water at that time. After the kitten learns to be happy even when it is not around its mother, it will automatically start feeding on canned food.
3. Using the correct type of food is necessary. While purchasing the food, always look for labels that specify the age and the nutritional properties.
4. Never lose your cool when you try to feed the kitten. Kittens can easily judge the body language and may act more stubborn. Hold the kitten close to you to provide it body warmth so that it feels a comfortable atmosphere around.
5. If still the kitten does not accept food, there is a bigger problem and emergency vet consultation is advised.
Why should you wean them Slowly?
Kittens should be weaned very slowly and should not be forced at all. This is because making them lick forcefully from the bowl can cause them to inhale the liquid through their nose and cause pneumonia. Thus, to avoid this, never force your kitten to eat from the bowl. Also, it takes time for the kitten to adapt from their mother’s milk to solid food. Thus, mix the food with a lot of water so that the kitten does not feel any unfamiliarity with the liquid it is consuming. Keep on reducing the amount of water slowly and the kitten would be accustomed to eating unmoistened food within two months.
SOME STEPS TO BE FOLLOWED:
Kittens become very messy when they are introduced to a bowl for the first time. Most of the time they would dip their paws in the bowl and would play with it. Teach your kitten to slowly lick from the bowl and let it eat its own way for a few days. After that, properly clean the kitten with a moist towel and let it play in an area that is warmer till it is completely dry.
Thus, these are the methods through which kittens can be weaned easily. There are a few points that you need to keep in mind before you adopt a kitten. Never adopt a kitten that is too young. Separation from one’s mother is the most stressful period that anyone goes through at any age. Thus, let the kitten mature a little. Be a responsible and loving owner. If your kitten is acting fussy, treat it the way you would treat a fussy kid. Take your kitten to the vet periodically. Ignorance is never the answer after all, your little furball is dependent on you for every love and care that you endow.