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Kittens – fourth week – weaning

6 August, 2006

I started weaning the kittens yesterday. They’re now nearly four weeks old and I wasn’t sure if it was too early to start, but what prompted me was that Mum cat was losing condition and starting to look quite skinny. Nursing kittens is hard work, and lots of queens lose condition during that time, but I wanted to help her out as much as I could. During the two weeks I was at home I fed her up to as much as once every two hours. Now that I was back at work, I suspect that Hubby wasn’t as conscientious.

A lot of breeders have problems with weaning, with kittens being fussy etc. Some advocate using intermediate foods like porridge, or rice pudding. With last year’s litter I fed raw mince (homemade and ground up with the bone and supplements added – recipe to be supplied in a later blog) and there were no problems at all. It seems that kittens recognise real food when they see it.

I smeared a little raw chicken mince on the rim of a small plate and put it down in the pen. The cream kitten investigated and to my delight sampled it. The larger kittens all had a taste of it. The smaller kittens, like Squeaky, didn’t bother even though I put a little on my finger and offered it to Squeaky.

Today I repeated the raw food offering, and a few more kittens ate it. Good thing I supervised the meal because the mackrel kitten started making yowling noises. I checked it and there was a piece of meat sticking out of its mouth, so I loosened the meat. It tried to swallow it, and to my horror, started choking. I immediately pulled the piece of meat out, and saw that it had been attached by a piece of ligament to another piece of meat that it had already half-swallowed.

This is the second time I’ve had to rescue a kitten and been successful. I think I’m blessed.

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2 comments

  1. Hi there, wondering if you can help me regarding weaning,

    My kittens are over 10 weeks old, they were weened about 5 weeks ago, however occasionally i catch the kittens feeding on the mum, yet the mother has no milk in her and has now been desexed. I hiss at them and swiftly take them off but in the next minute they are usually back on her. One kitten in particular sneaks a suckle in every so often. As there is evidence on the mothers nipple as to when he has gone on, we know they are doing it many times in the day. We both work so stopping in the day and when we sleep is very difficult.

    How can we stop this behaviour.

    Thanks


  2. Hello, many thanks for your e-mail. In my experience, even if kittens are weaned, they will still try to suckle from mum, even if they are 10 weeks’ old. In fact, there seems to be no age limit on when they will stop suckling – my neuter boy Teddy who is over a year old will sometimes have a comfort suckle from his mother.

    So, even if there is no milk, the kittens will suckle because it is (1) habit and (2) for comfort and (3) natural – 10 weeks is still the age when kittens suckle. In fact, in the wild, kittens will suckle for months.

    So, if you’re worried that it is unnatural, it isn’t. My instinct would be to let it carry on, as long as the mother isn’t distressed. It won’t hurt her. If it hurts her then she will get up and walk off or smack the kittens, and after awhile the kitten will get the message that it isn’t OK to suckle. Better that then to try to force the issue – it could lead to habits like wool sucking later on.

    However, if it really is disturbing you, then there are a few alternatives:

    (1) you can separate mum and kittens by putting them in different rooms. I don’t know if this will upset mum though. You could try separating them for an hour, then increase the time each day.

    (2) you can get a product called bitter apple and put it on her nipples – like its name, its a bitter-tasting substance that will stop them from suckling.

    When are the kittens leaving home? If at 13 weeks, then I’d just let them carry on suckling, unless mum objects. Let them learn the lesson from her – she knows best.

    Hope this helps.

    Regards,
    Rona



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