Whether we are going to adopt a small kitten or taking care of cats and kittens at home, or simply found an abandoned little one somewhere outside, we are often not sure if the kitten is past its nursing stage.
How long does a kittens nurse?
If we are taking a kitten away from the mother cat, how soon can be too soon?
If you happen to be involved with small kittens, knowing this is one of the most critical parts of taking care of the little one.
If the kitten is removed from the mother too soon, there can be serious consequences on its health and development.
The right age
If you have a cat at home who has recently become mother, you will notice that the mother cat will start to wean the kittens off its milk from the age of one month. This might seem like the right age for the kitten to move on to a different diet. However, it is not so simple.
Kittens get used to the mother’s milk and getting them off that diet is going to take a lot of time. It generally takes about 8 weeks to 10 weeks in total for the kittens to move on from the mother’s milk completely. True, the weaning process begins after 1 month of age, but it is not completed till about 8 weeks to 10 weeks of age. However, what you can do is slowly start the small kittens to get adjusted to a different diet other than the mother’s milk after 1 month of age.
When you are trying to get the kitten to get accustomed to a different diet, it is best to start with semi-solid food. You will not be able to make the kitten o transition to dry foods directly. Semi-solid kitten foods are best during the initial phase, especially during the time when the kitten is yet to get completely weaned off its mother’s milk.
You can check out a list of the best cat and kitten foods to get a better idea about the best food options available at present. Also, the automatic cat feeder will be a good investment if you do not stay at your place and need to leave food for the kittens to have all through the day.
The risk of separating the kitten too soon
As already stated, there is a high risk of damaging the kitten’s nutritional intake and development if removed from the mother cat too soon. But, how big is the risk anyway? Let us check out.
Kittens get many essential nutrients from the mother cat’s milk. These are vital for the development of the various parts of the kitten. Without the mother’s milk, the kittens will start having nutritional deficiency and will face lack of growth and development.
For a kitten, mother cat and siblings help in shaping up their character as well. Character development is critical, especially, if you are dealing with a domestic cat. The mother cat and the siblings help the kitten to become accustomed to human interaction. If separated too soon, the kitten can turn shy or can be skittish or even can show aggressive behavior towards human beings.
What should be done in case of orphaned or abandoned kitten?
Kittens can be orphaned or abandoned for a variety of reasons. In such a case it is critical that you take proper care of the kitten assume the role of the mother. You will first have to know if the kitten has been truly abandoned or orphaned. If yes, then you should start by providing cat milk substitute to the small one and give enough attention, care and time.
The nursing time will not reduce in such a scenario and might even increase to some extent. You will have to take special care at least till the kitten is 10 weeks old. The time might increase because of the lack of presence of a mother cat.
There are many kitten rescues that actually find a foster mother for any abandoned or orphaned kitten. This gives the kitten a better chance at proper growth and nutrition as well as character development.
Which is the ideal age for the kitten to leave the mother?
Coming back to the initial discussion, kittens need nursing at least till the age of 10 weeks. Given the time requirement fluctuation, it can be said that 12 weeks is a good time to put up a kitten for adoption. The kitten is enough grown-up at 12 weeks age to go to the new home and socialize. The kitten becomes a healthy small cat by then and can get accustomed to the new owners and home.
If, for some reason, the kitten is separated earlier than this, special care is needed. You will have to ensure that the kitten is getting enough attention, care, and required nutrient supplement. This should help the small one to grow up healthy and fine