When do kittens start eating solids? Top tips on weaning kittens off milk

If you’re new to kitten parenting, you are probably looking for some tips to get started. Nutrition is the key aspect to a quality feline life, so that’s the area you want to focus on the most. Are you wondering what and how much your kittens should eat? Most mammals—including cats—nurse from their mum until a certain age, but when do kittens start eating solids?

To ensure you get off on the right foot, we will help you learn when to:

  • Start separating your kitten from their mother or feeding them less from the bottle
  • Introduce solid food to your kitten’s menu

What is kitten weaning?

Weaning is the process of transitioning a kitten from their queen’s milk or a substitute to solid food. Weaning marks a significant period in every kitten’s life because they start to:

  • Resemble their parents
  • Become independent of their mother
  • Develop mobility and senses

Your kitten will also get their first teeth around the time they should start weaning.

Mum, how come I didn’t have this as a kitten?!

Image (c) Untamed

How to wean a kitten

To wean a kitten successfully, you need to:

  • Separate the kitten from the queen (if you have the mum too) for a few hours at a time, several times a day—You will have to establish two separate areas for the mother and the kitten, each with their own litter boxes and food and water bowls
  • Switch from nursing to homemade kitten gruel or wet food gradually—If you opt for kitten gruel, you should slowly add more wet or dry food to the mix to get the kitten accustomed to the taste and texture. Should you serve wet food, start with one tablespoon and increase the amount over time

    When to start weaning a kitten

    Most cat parents recommend beginning the weaning process after the kitten’s fifth week, but some vets argue that you can start weaning your kitten as early as three weeks of age. The truth is, not all kittens are ready to start weaning at the exact same time, but some signs can help you determine when to begin switching your furball’s food.

    Let’s learn how to recognise the signs that your kitten is ready to start weaning:

    Signs your kitten is ready to start weaning

    Signs your kitten is not ready to start weaning

    • Kitten is exploring the surrounding area through play
    • Canines and incisors are present in the kitten’s jaw
    • Kitten is mobile and able to stand on all fours while holding their tail up
    • Kitten isn’t standing and playing yet
    • Kitten can’t focus their eyes

    A general rule of thumb would be: if your kitten has teeth and can find and approach a bowl, it’s time to start weaning.

    There is nothing better than a nap after lunch!

    Source: jannoon028

    How long to wean a kitten

    Kittens usually take between four and six weeks to switch to solid food, but some can take longer and need to be stimulated to eat wet or moistened dry food. 

    Tips on choosing the purrfect first solid food for kittens

    Most vets recommend a formula specially designed for kittens, and this is because this type of food usually has a slightly higher caloric value. Whether you choose wet or dry food for your kitten, you should ensure it contains the right amount of nutrients for your little feline friend. 

    Check out the table to learn about the essential nutrients for kittens and the necessary amount of each:

    Nutrient

    Minimum daily intake on a dry matter basis (in %)

    Protein

    35–50

    Fat

    18–35

    Calcium

    0.8-1.6

    In addition to knowing about the essential nutrients, you should consult your vet about foods that could potentially lower your kitten’s urine pH level under 6.3 so you know what to avoid. A pH level that’s too low can cause a ruckus in your furry friend’s urinary tract. One of the more dangerous problems a low urine pH can cause are crystals in your kitty’s bladder, which can be removed only surgically.

    Keep your options open—finicky kittens can cause you trouble!

    Kittens like to explore—everything is new to them, including food, so they’re more willing to try different foods than adult cats. When shopping for food, get several options so you can observe the kitten's reactions to them. As the weaning period comes to an end, you will discover that your kitten has particular preferences and eating habits you need to tend to. Untamed helps you do so because our food assortment caters to all picky eaters.

    Options, options… Where do I start?

    Image (c) Untamed

    When can kittens eat wet food?

    Many cat parents and vets agree that wet food is the best first solid option for a weaning kitten because of its:

    If your kitten is hesitant to try wet food because of its texture or taste, you can mix it with some milk substitute to make it taste and feel more familiar.

    When to start feeding kittens dry food

    You can try letting your kitten taste dry food as soon as you start weaning them if you dampen it with:

    • Water
    • Formula
    • Chicken broth

    Never use cow’s milk as it can cause severe digestive problems to your kitten.

    Your kitten can nibble on dry biscuits occasionally, but don’t offer too much of this food to them because they can choke if they eat too much of it too quickly. Damp biscuits ensure your kitty digests the dry food better and stays hydrated.

    Mom, are you done with the photoshoot? I’d like to have lunch meow.

    Source: Freepik

    Introducing kittens to solid food the right way

    Introducing your kitten to solid food requires patience and time. You will have to make decisions based on your observations, for example, increasing the amount of solid food after a positive reaction from the kitten or switching back to nursing or feeding formulas if your kitten has a hard time weaning. 

    To introduce your kitten to solid food properly, you should:

    • Offer food from your finger first, then switch to a spoon before eventually serving food in a shallow dish
    • Try offering your kitten gruel and other mushy food combos before switching to pureed wet and dampened try food

    Are you looking for a pawsome kitten gruel recipe? We’ve got your back!

    Kitten gruel is an excellent way to get your kitten accustomed to the taste of the solids you want to introduce without shocking them. Depending on which food you want to get your kitten on, you can make two types of kitten gruel:

    1. Kitten gruel made of wet food
    2. Kitten gruel made of dry food

    How to make kitten gruel of wet food

    To make the purrfect kitten gruel out of wet food for your little friend, you will need:

    1. One 3.0 ounce tin of cat food
    2. Two tablespoons of kitten milk replacer powder (KMR)
    3. Two tablespoons of water
    4. A blender or food processor

    Pour all of the ingredients in a blender and process until you get a soup-ish consistency. You can store unused gruel in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

    The easiest way to make kitten gruel of dry food

    To make dry food gruel, you should have:

    1. High-quality dry food for kittens
    2. Kitten milk replacer
    3. Some water
    4. A mixer, blender, or food processor

    Pour some dry food and water into the food processor or a bowl (the ratio is around one cup of dry food to one and a half cup of water), then dose the kitten milk replacer according to the amount of water present in the gruel.

    After you have all ingredients in place, mix or blend them until you get a soup-like consistency. If you want a little diversity in your kittens’ diet, you can make gruel of both wet and dry food.

    Pro tip—try including Untamed next time you’re making gruel—your kittens will go wild for it!

    How often should your kitten munch on kitten gruel or other solid food?

    Weaning kittens eat every four to five hours. Since kittens should still be nursing off their mother during weaning, every other meal should consist of solid food. As the weaning period is reaching its final stage, you will want to ensure that the kitten nurses less and eats more solid meals.

    Are your kittens fussy? Learn how to get kittens to eat solid food

    Once the kittens are ready to start weaning, their queen stops motivating them to nurse and even pushes them away. Some kittens don’t take the hint and are reluctant to stop feeding off of their mums. Since the queens don’t produce milk forever, you will have to resort to specific methods to get the kittens to switch to solid food, such as:

    • Putting small amounts of solid food on your finger and rubbing it on the kitten’s gums. Make sure you:
      • Don’t rub too hard
      • Don’t put too much food to avoid choking
      • Avoid getting the food near your kitty’s nose to prevent food inhalation
    • Trying different food bowls and serving methods (for example, warming up the food to body temperature)
    • Isolating the slow weaners from the mother more frequently and feeding them separately
    • Switching between different food types and flavours

    Are you looking for more options for your fussy little eaters? Cat parents report that Untamed has won over even the pickiest of eaters. Our assortment has a recipe for every kitten’s taste!

    Common mistakes cat parents make when weaning a kitten

    Kitten weaning is not easy—the process requires a lot of intuition, observation, and essentially trial and error. That being said, there are some common mistakes you can avoid when weaning a kitten to help them make an easier transition to solid food. Whether you’re weaning one kitten or an entire litter, try not to:

    • Serve food from a deep bowl or dish—Kittens are too small to access food from a bowl, and they will tip it over in their attempts to eat. There is also a risk of the kittens falling into the bowl and choking
      • Wean the kittens too quickly—Kittens who are separated from their mothers too suddenly and offered an entirely new kind of food can experience shock
      • Separate the kittens from their mothers too soon—Many vets recommend keeping your kittens next to their mother and siblings for up to 14 weeks to ensure they develop social skills and don’t get stressed out

      What can make a kitten reject solid food?

      Is your kitten not excited about the idea of switching to solid food? Check out some of the reasons why your kitten might be uninterested in food:

      • Your kitten doesn’t have siblings to learn from—If you’re fostering a single kitten, weaning can be challenging as the kitty doesn’t have siblings to learn from and follow
      • Kittens don’t like the taste of the food you offered—Some kittens are particularly fussy and won’t eat any wet or dry food you picked out for the occasion
        • Your kitten might be sick—If you notice that your kitten is uninterested in solid food, try feeding them from the bottle. If the kitten rejects all food, visit the vet as soon as possible
        • The dish you’re serving food in is inaccessible—If the feeding dish is too tall, your kitty might not be able to reach the food and could give up
        • You separated the kitten from their mother too suddenly—Early and sudden separation can cause various developmental issues and even anxiety and aggression. When separating kittens from their queen, do it gradually. Remember to keep the separation intervals short at first, then slowly build up to more extended periods until your kittens are independent

          When do kittens stop drinking milk altogether?

          Your kittens should stop nursing between their eighth and tenth week, but queens produce milk for twelve weeks, and some slow weaners might nurse until then.

          At what age can kittens start eating cat food?

          After you’re done weaning your kittens, you might wonder when the right time to switch them to adult cat food is. The right time to do so is around their first birthday (or between 18 and 24 months for some large breeds).

          The importance of quality nutrition during weaning

          Kittens grow rapidly, especially during the weaning period. If you want to ensure healthy growth, your kittens’ food must be nutritious enough to support it. Humans cannot thrive on trash food, so we shouldn’t expect our sensitive kittens to do so, either.

          At Untamed, we strive to provide every kitten with the highest quality nutrition, from kittenhood to their golden years. Our high-protein meals contain no nasty extras to ensure your kitty thrives. Once your kitten is done growing, Untamed will help you keep their weight under control throughout their life.

          Why Untamed?

          We created Untamed because we care for cats just like you do. To help you ensure your feline companion lives their best life, we created cat food recipes that are:

          • Vet-formulated—We created food that meets all of your furry friend’s nutritional needs, according to experts
          • Hypoallergenic—Say goodbye to allergies! Our hypoallergenic meals consist of ingredients that don't trigger allergic reactions and that help your kitty’s skin defend itself from airborne allergens
            • Protein-rich—Carefully chosen and protein-packed meats and fish will make your cat literally shine 
            • Made of human-grade ingredients—You can be sure that your kitten’s bowl won’t contain anything you wouldn’t choose to eat yourself. Only the most delicate meat and fish make it to our meals—no room for ingredients of questionable quality

              Do you want to try Untamed? Complete a short questionnaire and get your cat’s starter kit!

              Untamed—your cat’s best friend since kittenhood!

              Image (c) Untamed

              Give your kittens the best head start with Untamed

              Many cats have already joined the Untamed pack—their parents happily report that their kitties:

              • Make less mess in the litter box—Untamed meals are easy to digest and go easy even on the most sensitive of tummies
              • Have more energy throughout the day—You can expect playtime to get a whole new meaning. Even if your kitty isn’t a hunter, they will enjoy all benefits of a natural diet
              • Are showing their true colours—Protein-rich meals make your cat’s coat shiny and silky-soft
              • Are catwalk-ready—Untamed meals come in pre-sized portions for better weight management and convenience

                Our pack is ever-growing, and we’d like to welcome you, too!

                How it works

                To ensure every cat’s needs are met, we address every member of the pack individually—that means that you can be confident that you’re making the right choice. The process of getting your furry friend’s purrsonal meal pack is as simple as it gets and takes only a couple of minutes to complete. Here's how you can order Untamed products:

                1. Visit our Try Now page
                2. Tell us about your feline friend:
                  1. What’s their name?
                  2. Do they have any food preferences, and which?
                  3. How much food does your kitty need per day?
                3. Enter your email address

                After completing the form, check your email for a recommended plan. The plan isn’t final—you can adjust it to both your and your kitty’s needs any time by changing the:

                • Amount of food you get
                • Delivery date
                • Recipes you receive

                Once you’re happy with the plan, sign up, and your order will be on its way to you!