Weaning is a very important step in a cat's life. Synonymous with maternal detachment, it determines how a cat will adapt to their future environment, as well as how they will interact with others.
To gain true independence, there are different steps that need to be taken.
But contrary to what you may believe, weaning is not only diet based, but also psychological. It's advised against adopting kittens under the age of 8 weeks.
What psychological and dietary steps need to be taken to fully wean your kitten? Everything you need to know here.
How to wean kittens onto solid food
At the beginning of their life, the kitten feeds on breast milk. Food weaning is the transition from liquid to solid food, and takes place in different stages. A general schedule for a kitten might be:
- Weeks 4-5: Give wet or moistened dry food, mixed with formula to form a slush. Supplement with formula if the kitten is not taking to the new food, to make sure it gets enough calories.
- Weeks 5-6: The weaning kittens should start to nibble on the kibble, slightly moistened with water.
- Weeks 6-7: By now, the kitten weaning process is complete, and they should be eating all solid food by week seven.
How to wean a kitten psychologically
Legally speaking, it's forbidden to give or adopt a kitten under the age of two months. Having said this, it is definitely advisable to wait until three months, as between two and three months, the kitten will learn a lot psychologically/behaviourally from their mother. During this stage of socialisation, the kitten will learn the following:
- to be autonomous: they will learn to eat alone, use their litter and go to the toilet.
- to live with other cats: by playing with their brothers and sisters, they will learn to establish boundaries. The mother is also there to reprimand the kittens if they go to far and show them how its done.
- to live with other species: in the same way, by observing their mother, the kittens will learn to trust humans and dogs for example. If they see their mother cuddling a human, they will understand that humans don't present any danger to them.
From three months onwards, the mother considers she has nothing left to teach her babies; this is the rejection phase. The kitten should be able to manage all on their own and have all the tools to get off to a good start. They will have learnt social codes, to feed themselves, and their digestive system will have adapted to a solid diet. They will be a balanced cat.