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Waening hand-reared kittens

(17 Posts)
Curlybrunette Mon 29-Oct-12 19:59:13

Hi all,

Just wondered if anyone had experience with weaning kittens. My friend fostered kittens for the Cat Protection League and currently has 4 kittens which she got at 2 days old and are now just over 6 weeks. The kittens are refusing to eat food, and are on syringes of milk (well milk mixed with a paste type food, has to be syringed though, they won't lap yet).

I'm looking after them for a few days and thought I'd have a search around for help with weaning.

Some info said that the mother would naturally cut down the milk she gave them to encourage them on to solids, or for hand reared kittens to start weaning younger, perhaps at 3 weeks.

I'm wondering if my friend has somehow 'missed the boat' and the kittens have got past the point of wanting to wean. Are we worrying too much and are they just too young yet?

Any advice greatly appreciated


BrianCoxIsEatingBrains Mon 29-Oct-12 20:00:41

I will PM Pinot - she hand reared 2 kittens that are now healthy and gorgeous, 1 year on. She may have some advice?

Curlybrunette Mon 29-Oct-12 20:14:17

Bloody hell weaning!!!

Curlybrunette Mon 29-Oct-12 20:16:49

Thanks BrianCox. These 4 I've got are so completely gorgeous. I've never been a cat person but I am in so much love. Unfortunately we are a bit allergic so there's no chance of keeping any sad

As I type there's 2 laid on me fast asleep

Pinot Mon 29-Oct-12 20:17:42

Thanks Bri smile

They're not too old - mine were five weeks when they weaned so not far off. Not unusual for hand-reared kittens to be slower than cat-reared ones.

They're just like babies really - you can't go from milk to meat in one go, so get some kitten meat sachets, and mush them up really well so they're a soft paste. Then mix in lots of their milk so that for the first few days of weaning they are eating milk-flavoured meaty mush. Gradually reduce the milk you add, and gradually reduce how much you are mashing their meat, so it gets chunkier and chunkier.

Their bellies will soon tell them that meat is tastier and more filling than milk, and that milk no longer satisfies them. And voilá! Weaned kittens smile

Pinot Mon 29-Oct-12 20:18:12

photos please smile

BrianCoxIsEatingBrains Mon 29-Oct-12 20:46:03

Pictures are a must! <waits patiently> grin

Curlybrunette Mon 29-Oct-12 20:48:19

Thanks Pinot,

My friend (and I whilst I'm kitten sitting!) are mixing a tin of kitten food (looks like pate in a tin) into 400mls of kitten formula and syringing that. It's like a very thick milk. I've tried putting a bit on a spoon and offering it to the kittens but they won't entertain it, nor if it's on a saucer.

Is it worth holding back their formula and only offering a saucer of the paste and assuming they'll eventually eat if cos they'll be so hungry? Feel like I shouldn't do anything dramatic as I'm not the official fosterer, just a babysitter for a few days though I'd feel quite smug if I managed to wean them before C got home from her hols!

How do I put picks on here? I've often wondered that?


Curlybrunette Mon 29-Oct-12 20:50:02

picks = pics

Damn I'm on a roll tonight aren't I.

Pinot Mon 29-Oct-12 21:11:53

I really wouldn't syringe anything that thick - it could easily go down their breathing hole. Eek.

For tonight, start with milk in shallow dish - they'll walk through it and then lick it off their paws - that's the first step - getting them to lick food, not just accept food placed into their mouths.

Then add very, very well mushed up meat to some milk. Just a little bit, to flavour it.

As long as they have fat little tummies, they won't be done any harm by not being syringed - the worry is they've gotten very lazy! Milk in a really shallow dish and leave them to play with it smile

Curlybrunette Mon 29-Oct-12 21:27:11

That's what I was worrying about, that they were so happy being syringe fed that they couldn't be bothered to learn to eat properly. Right I'll get my saucer out now!


Pinot Mon 29-Oct-12 21:31:46

I think your instincts are absolutely spot on. The sooner they take from a dish, the better - if that's milk then fair enough (small steps!) but you are right to worry about syringing at their age.

Curlybrunette Mon 29-Oct-12 22:48:00

They did brilliantly! 3 out the 4 took the milky mixture from the saucer. The one that didn't seemed like she really wanted too but daren't bless her. She walked around the saucer squeaking like mad sad

I'll try again with them each feed time, tomorrow I'll do more pâté less milk. They seemed happy licking the residual lumps off the saucer once the milk had gone (it separates out a bit).
Yay thanks so much for your help Pinot x

Pinot Tue 30-Oct-12 09:46:58

Oh so pleased to hear this smile

Another tip is to snuggle them up with you (like when you're bottle feeding them) and offer them a small mushed up bit of meat on your finger. Theory is they're all content and happy, and may be willing to try something new as they trust you. It stinks, of course, but it's lovely when they lick off your fingers and then lick their lips with contentedness! Maybe try that with the reluctant one - as soon as she learns to lick for food, she'll be well away.

Curlybrunette Tue 30-Oct-12 19:39:28

Had a great day with 1 of them, she had a proper breakfast and dinner. The others not so great but still I'm chuffed to bits for them.

But then...

My friend came home early from her hols and has taken them back. I am gutted. Cried as she left. How ridiculous is it that a grown women has sobbed after 4 kittens that she's only looked after since Friday and were never hers in the first place.

They were so gorgeous and so much fun.

Thanks for your help though, I passed your advice on to my friend

Pinot Wed 31-Oct-12 09:44:18


steal them back


PrincessSymbian Wed 31-Oct-12 09:51:20

I would think that is a perfectly normal reaction to having them stolen from you giving them back.
I'd be sad too.

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