Weaning is the process of transitioning a kitten from a liquid to solid diet. One key component is starting at the right age, as kittens’ bodies are very sensitive to premature weaning. Up until five weeks, kittens should be either nursing or bottle feeding. Around five weeks, kittens’ premolars will begin to come in. This is a sign that the kitten is ready to start trying out solid food. However, some kittens may need more time based on health issues or differences in weight or size. If you observe any changes in the kitten’s health during the process, immediately revert back to bottle feeding.
Having the right supplies is also important. Pick up some wet kitten food, making sure it says ‘kitten’. Kitten food is higher in calories, fat, and protein which will help them grow big and strong. Wet food also provides moisture to help them stay hydrated. Shallow food dishes are also necessary so that the kittens can easily reach the food.
Start the transition by beginning with slurry, which is a mix of formula and wet food. Begin by adding a small teaspoon of wet food mixed with formula, which lets the kitten become familiar with new proteins and flavors. As the kitten becomes more comfortable with eating meat, you can begin increasing the ratio of wet food to formula. There are a couple ways to introduce the slurry, so use your judgement on the best way. Some kittens prefer wet food blended with formula then fed to them in a bottle. Other kittens may be able to eat off a tongue depresser or from your finger. Over time, the kitten will learn how to eat the slurry from a dish. During this time, be sure to supplement your kitten’s diet with bottle feeding if you aren’t sure that the kitten is getting a full meal.
Once the kitten is comfortably eating slurry on her own, you can switch completely to wet food. Monitor this transition to make sure there are no concerning changes in weight, behavior, or condition. At this time, you can also begin to introduce water in a small, shallow dish. Large dishes can cause a safety hazard to little kittens, so keep the water dish to roughly two inches high. It’s normal for kittens to struggle with water initially, but she should be drinking comfortably within one to three days.
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