When Can A Kitten Eat On Her Own?


Hey guys! [gentle background music lasts throughout video] My kittens are six weeks old today and that means that over the last week, they’ve been learning how to eat wet food! [can opening] Good job, my babies! [kittens slurping cutely] (to kittens) Hey, don’t you guys want to eat too? Let’s all have a snack! So I’ve had these little guys ever since they were first opening up their eyes, since they were just a couple days old. And that means that the entire time I’ve had them, they’ve been bottle feeding. Now, you always hear me talking about how those teeny, tiny kittens are the most vulnerable they’ll ever be. But there’s another period of vulnerability that I wanna talk about today, and that is the weaning period! Um, excuse me, Tapinga! [laughing] You wanna be the star o’ the show! If you’re not careful about how and when you wean your kittens, it could be a really dangerous time for them. They can decline in health. They can lose weight. And worse, they can fall into fatal condition if they’re weaned too prematurely. So in this video, I wanna talk all about weaning age and when is the right time to wean your kittens. I personally wean my kittens at five weeks of age. I find that this is when kittens do really well making that transition on to the meaty foods, and it’s when their bodies are biologically ready to handle that transition. I’ll talk a lot more about that a little later on, but first I wanna say, there are a lot of different opinions about when the right age is to wean your kittens. Depending on who you talk to, you might be told that kittens should be weaned at three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, six weeks. It really depends on who you’re speaking with. Most of the time, these differences of opinion have everything to do with the circumstances of the caregiver. So today I wanna talk about not the circumstances of the caregiver, but the circumstances of the kitten and what’s best biologically for them. I KNOW. You want a bottle! Catalina is eating her meats pretty well, but she doesn’t eat a full meal’s worth. So after her meal, she still gets a bottle. Good job, Catalina. Okay, just a little bit. Shelters will often wean kittens very young, and that’s because there’s a lot of pressure on shelter workers to get them eating independently so they can be cared for in a foster home or in a shelter environment. You see, a lot of shelters don’t have overnight staff that can be there doing bottle feeding. And shelters have a harder time finding foster parents who are willing to bottle feed than they do finding foster parents who are willing to take weaned kittens. So when a three-week-old kitten comes into the shelter, the shelter’s only options might need to either wean them or to euthanize them because there’s no one to care for them. So given those two options, I obviously understand and empathize with why a shelter would want to get a kitten weaned young. But in a perfect world, there would be a third option and that option would be to have enough care to give the kittens what they actually need, which is often to be bottle fed. So I see this all the time. I have a lot of friends and even family who have gone to the shelter to foster their first kittens and they’ve been given three- or four-week-old kittens and told they’re totally weaned. But when they get home, they find out that kitten actually isn’t able to eat that well on their own and they need the support of the bottle feeding. This is super common. The shelter wants to get the kitten out of the door, and totally understandably. But the foster parent can then have a very hard time of getting them to do well. Ultimately, they can end up losing kittens or losing foster parents because they don’t have a good experience with these babies. When a kitten’s weaned too young, you can see a big decline in their health. Their bodies might not be able to properly absorb the nutrients from meat. Kittens weaned too young are at risk of emaciation, dehydration, diarrhea, and malabsorption. They also may not be able to effectively eat the food and can choke or under-eat, and they can consume an insufficient quantity of food to meet their caloric needs. That’s why whenever possible, it’s safest to wait until five weeks to wean. That’s when kittens are biologically capable of handling both the new nutrients and the new method of eating. There are a lot of changes that need to happen to a kitten’s body in order for them to be able to wean efficiently. At three weeks old, the kittens might have their first teeth, the incisors, but don’t let that fool you. The incisors are not for eating meat. The incisors are really for grooming, and that’s why at three weeks old, you start seeing kittens getting their first tiny teeth and engaging in their first grooming behaviors. It isn’t until the kitten is five weeks old that they have both their canines and the premolars on the side of the mouth. Those are the teeth that are designed for shredding solids. Oh my gosh. Look at Zooma in the strawberry! You are very cute! Yes, you’re very cute too, Balboa. There are other biological indicators that a kitten is ready to eat on their own during this time, including that their eyesight and their coordination are improving rapidly. This means that the kitten is able to seek, find, chew, and swallow food totally independently. And it isn’t just the visible body that’s changing during this time. Internally, there are changes that are happening too. Inside the gut, the intestinal lining is developing villi, which increase the internal surface area and allow the kitten to properly absorb the new nutrients. This process is critical for ensuring that the kitten’s going to be able to absorb all of those vital proteins and sugars through the gut. The digestive enzymes also begin to shift at the time of weaning. The lactase which breaks down milk sugars changes to sucrase, which breaks down the sugars present in meat. So even though you can’t see what’s going on inside the gut there are changes that are happening at this time that allow them to wean properly. Kittens need to be given enough time to figure out this whole food thing! Even if they do show initial interest in the food, I see a lot of what I call meat nursing, which is where a kitten is actually suckling on the wet food If you haven’t seen my meat nursing videos, you have to watch them. It’s very, very cute. (to kitten) Oh, are you gonna meet nurse right now? You’re doing it. You’re stuck! See, this is why you still need a bottle because you get stuck and you’re nursing your meat. You’re a meat nurser! (back to narration) But as cute as meat nursing is, it doesn’t give a kitten an entire meal. I mean, think about how we wean human babies. You don’t just pull them off the breast one day and stick a piece of pizza in their mouth the next. So we need to be able to support the kitten throughout this entire process. How do we support them? Well, one big way is to meet them where they are and start them at the right age. You can also hand feed them, spoon feed them, sit with them while they’re eating, continually show them the food. (to kitten) Look, Will. There you go. Good job, guys! Every kitten’s going to be different. Out of this litter, Will and Catalina are the two that struggle the most. I have to really sit with them and show them the food and continually try to support them making this transition. But ultimately, you do need to supplementally feed them until they’ve totally got it. So after Will has done everything he’s going to do with his meat, I will give him a bottle to make sure that he has all of his nutritional and caloric needs met. Do you want this? Oh. Will loves his bottle time. You love your bottle time. But you know, every single day he’s having his bottle less and less. But it’s there for him if he doesn’t get his full meal. I think you’re doing a great job transitioning! What about you? Catalina spends half the time at the food bowl just suckling, so I always make sure that she does have a bottle. And the other kittens actually don’t need the bottle anymore at all. That’s why when it comes to weaning, I always you have to… meet/meat them where they are! Get it? Meet/Meat?! Meet/Meat you where you are?! [quietly] You get it? [whispering[ She doesn’t get it. You don’t speak English. Of course, weaning too late can also be an issue. If you wait too long to wean, the kittens might not be getting the nutrients that they need. But moreover, their sharp teeth can actually shred this nipple and they can swallow it. And that’s not good for anyone. So it’s important to find a good balance that works for each individual kitten, meeting them exactly where they are. As for individuals and organizations who wean early, I get it. And I truly empathize with the horrible challenge of trying to find enough people to help these little bottle babies. I understand how tempting and even necessary it can be to try to get these kittens weaned. But my point is that for foster parents and for everyday caregivers, it’s important that we’re informed and empowered to be giving these kittens age-appropriate care. Listen, I get that bottle feeding can seem really intimidating or challenging, but I promise that it isn’t. Watch my videos, learn how to do it properly, and you’ll be a pro in no time. We need more people like me and you who are willing to bottle feed kittens so that we don’t have to make these difficult judgment calls and try to wean them young. In fact, it’s much easier to bottle feed than it is to care for an ailing, emaciated kitten who’s not succeeding at eating on their own. When we give them the right care, rescuing kittens can be a snap! And when the kittens have a good experience, we have a good experience too. [baby-talking kittens] Oh my gosh, you two are a mess! You’re the ones who need a little bit extra help with everything. But that’s okay! Whenever possible, it’s better to adjust the caregiver duties to meet the needs of the kitten, rather than to adjust the care of the kittens to meet the needs of the caregiver. My hope is that one day there will be fewer kittens in need of bottle feeding and that those kittens who are in need will be able to be cared for on a timeline that gives them the best experience possible. Thanks so much for watching. Make sure you check out all of my other instructional videos about weaning kittens.

100 Replies to “When Can A Kitten Eat On Her Own?”

  1. Does anybody know what breed these kittens are? I’m really curious because I really want a kitten!

  2. how fo you know the 2 ish-3 ish month old ish kitten is full? . . (and when is the kitten ready for only adult food?) . . you are about as adorable as your kittenz!

  3. I have 3 kittens. I have t taken them to the vet yet but from watching your videos they are about 5/6 weeks old. Two of them are at the point where they are chewing up the nipple with their back teeth . Does that mean it’s time to wean them?

  4. If all cats and kittens were hers…I could they reproduce? People are retarded calling cats girls all of the time….

  5. So we are faster parents for the Humane Societyand our first kitten was three weeks old when we got him he was not a good nurser but turned into an aggressive Eater now he has graduated to five weeks and he's adopted. Our newest kittens are two weeks old one is able to nurse and attach and is doing well the other has refused nursing from day one I have tried all the tricks of the trade all of your tricks I have taken him back to the animal hospital three times they are saying his teeth are coming in graduate him to the gruel or slurry he fights with that he still gaining weight.I understand the shelters need to get them wind but I am willing to bottlefeed I have been trying to do it around the clock I feel like I'm force-feeding him no matter what it is

  6. I have a kitten for 1 month and 2 weeks that has 2 days with diarrhea and I do not know what to do or what to give

  7. I have been a fan of your videos for a few weeks now and each time I see one, I am astonished at how great of a teacher you are. Knowledgeable, sure. Experienced, definitely. But it takes a lot of skill to actually be able to say the right things in the right way to impart knowledge. Teaching is a skill, and you have it. It makes me curious how you developed that skill and got to be the person you are today. There's a biography waiting to be written.

  8. I have a kitten that I rescued well he was in a pool skimmer and he is kind of like as small as your kitten and when I gave him homade milk he acted like he never drank milk

  9. Oh boy, my kittens are going to be three weeks old on Friday. But when they reach five weeks I won't be there to wean them. Hopefully my mom their their mommy kitty help them out till I come back.

  10. I tried bottle feeding my kitten who was still a little young for solid food. He would not touch the food or the bottle. So he got beef or chicken baby food very fine, then I added little water (he wouldn't drink either). He just slurped that stuff right up. Needless to say, he's a healthy, active boy.

  11. I have an 8 week old kitten who I've had since 4 weeks, I weaned her about a week ago and she's doing great on solids, but she tries to suckle on my fingers or arm at night. Should I still give her a bottle for comfort? Thank you!

  12. thank you so much your videos are super helpful. I have 2 orphaned kittens they are 4 weeks old and to be honest I've never dealed with this age before. it's so difficult and needs so much care. I learned alot from your videos how to stimulate them to pee and poop, and when to start weaning them. I thought they are ready to be weaned, but one of them started to loose weight,so I decided to postpone it until they become 5 week old.

  13. My dad found a 4 week old cat about 6 years ago. We had no idea what to do. But she's fine. Her name is Tabby Or Kitten It doesn't matter.

  14. I have 6 kittens and today was the first day we gave them food and they all started attacking each other while fighting for food

  15. I love your videos and all the wonderful helpful information you put out for free, you're making a big difference in 2 little orphaned kittens' lives right now. I'm very grateful and admire what you're doing. I've always loved cats, especially because they seemed to get the short end of the stick compared to dogs. I can more easily relate to their nature than canines, which I also love but just don't click as well with. I'd love to be the Cat Whisperer on day =)

    I only have one criticism. I wish you wouldn't say "her" when you could use "their." Assuming one gender is as bad as assuming another, and many people would understand about being upset if the base word was "he." When it could be male or female, you should use a gender neutral word for specificity. I'm not triggered or anything, I just think the world should be fair and accurate in order to be just.

  16. Im fostering for the first time. I got four kittens, and they were about three weeks old. Weve had them for about a week, and they have been choosing the wet food over milk. And they have been gaining 20-30 grams a day so i think they’re doing good 👍

  17. I love your videos , so help you. I rescued 4 kittens 3 weeks ago from a dumpster, they were just born and I had no idea what to do since I've never had a cat. I been watching all your videos and they are doing so good, sadly I'm going away for 2 weeks and now they are gonna have to go to a shelter and its breaking my heart.

  18. My entitled cousin decided to get foster kittens. She said she couldnt take care of them anymore, as if she was, and she weaned them and 2 weeks. Yes, they all died but one. Lil luna is a survivor!

  19. Big thanks to u kitten lady, bcoz of u I gathered courage to raise 2 newborn babies….Sadly I lost one to diarrhoea despite repeated vet visits when she was about 2 weeks old….d other one is almost 4 weeks now….I know she is approaching weaning age….Most of d wet kitten food I get in market says it's for 2 to 12 month old…..Should I feed her that mixed with her milk? Or something else….plz help, I don't want to lose her ….

  20. When you supplement with milk after feeding them at food, do you just use plain replacement milk or do you mix in som meat inside the bottle as well?

  21. I had to come back and watch this again after the vet tech told me that I should warn my fosters. They are only 3-4 weeks old! Their teeth are just coming in, Why rush wreaking when they are with foster parents? This made me upset. I’m waiting at least one more week.

  22. Love your videos. My mama cat hd two female kittens. They will be 3 weeks old. Your videos are so helpful! Thank you💜💜🐱

  23. My cat is fascinated with these videos.
    I’m showing them to her because a) she loves watching videos of other cats and b) I’m hoping that it will help her adjust to the fosters that I’ll be getting soon.

  24. Are there vans across America that come to people's homes to neuter & spay on site ? Particularly feral cats that are skiddish and the person wants to keep & feed & love them hoping to domesticate eventually ?
    Free are very inexpensive….??

  25. I have a Mama cat and 5 kittens in their 3ed week of life. What week would I introduce food to the kittens that have a mom nursing them? Would the time frame change or stay the same? I see a lot of info on how to foster kittens on the web but not much in regards to Mama cat and kitten care.

  26. My kittens are 4 weeks and have absolutely no interest in wet food watered down or anything. Ao this saying 5 weeks helps me

  27. My kitten’s has a Mum but she is no want to feed them but they are 4/5 weeks old I think we did have 5 kittens but we lost one 😭

  28. Hey I’m nalathecat9 from Instagram. My kitten Nala is 5 weeks old and I found this very helpful🌸 I love animals🦄 Thanks for everything you do💕🐱

  29. OUTSTANDING VIDu EO IN EVERY REGARD! Thank you for this, I've got 6 abandoned 4 week olds, just started a slurry with KMR to supplement… it's tricky and your info is terrific!

  30. When she's sitting in the enclosure thing I always randomly think of her farting and the kittens getting scared or falling over.

  31. I watched your video on how to wean my kitten that I rescued and it helped so much she dived right into the mushy food ! ❤️

  32. I just got 4 little 2week old babies to foster. The mother disappeared. Thank you so much for your videos! They are a big help!
    I was having trouble getting 3 of them to poop 💩 . They all tinkled fine, just 💩. But I did stick their little bottom in warm water to clean up the area and did stimulate the area while in the warm water, I was able to get then to go. Every since then, they are now going in their bed. ? Does that mean they are ready to start introduce them to litter box

  33. help! my 6 week kitten won't chew, her teeth are completely grown, she is healthy and growing but she won't chew! she keeps on 'sucking' on her wet food.. she likes her food and all but won't chew and improve her skills eating.. it's a week since we started her transition. help! any tips to make her use her teeth? her vet is asking me that she should be eating better 🙁

  34. Even if you don't like cats, which is bewildering to me, you have to admit, Hannah has a HUGE heart. Thank you, Hannah, for restoring my faith in humanity whenever I need it.

  35. If you don't have kitten formula don't feed them cow or another animals milk instead of that feed them regular human baby formula with egg yolk for additional protein. It works

  36. Can I feed my 3 week old kitten wet food? Shes quit strong for her age… I tried to give her some wet food this morning she licked it a little bit and then walked away…so idk

  37. Excuse me maam, I found a kitten. I think shes just 3weeks old. I cant afford to buy the replacement milk. But shes eating a little bit of dry cat food. She doesnt want the wet one. Please help me.

  38. My kitten is 7 weeks and today is her first day eating wet food on her own. Ive only been giving her small amounts at a time but she's doing great .

  39. I need some help, I have a 5 week old kitten that I have since it was 2 weeks old. I have been bottle feeding it this whole time. About a week ago I started with the smoothie with formula and wet food in the bottle and he was doing great. So now he is completely biting and attacking the bottle. I tried feeding the food from my finger, plate and bowl and he refuses it. But when I try the bottle he goes after it like he is hungry but can’t get the concept to suckle not eat the bottle. What can I do?

  40. My baby had 2 cutest ever kittens !! They are about 5 weeks now but I can not get them 2 eat food at all yet ? Do you think because mom's only feeding 2 kittens that they are just getting enough nutrition ? They are little bit on the chunky side 😁😉

  41. I adopted my kitten from street, just like the 2 light grey one with with dark ears and tale and little white paw. Anyone know the exact breed of this kind of cat?

  42. I rescued a 7 week old kitten 2 days ago. The mother either died or abandoned it( think she died). The kitten was from a feral mother and has never had solids yet. Shes so skinny and I've been giving her kitten formula but, she should be able to eat solids by now. I'm trying to introduce her to wet food but she has no intrest in it. I'll definitely never give up though. I absolutely love kitties. Thank you for your helpful videos.

  43. when a kitten is weaned from the bottle + eating can food what do you give them to drink? + why cant kittens drink our 2percent milk I have 5 kittens im bottle feeding + the formula is costly'' some one give me some idea's please

  44. First time I really feel the need to comment: you are my hero. I Adopted a 2-week old kitty, which was found by the street and your channel saved my life!!!! Thank you SO SO much for all your great help and advise, you really have answers to EVERYTHING when it comes to little munchkins! 😊 Much appreciated & lots of love for this beautiful channel & your amazing work in front AND behind the camera 😊 ♥️

  45. I want to say thank you. The videos are amazingly informative and a huge help explaining things. It has made care for my two, 5 week old kittens easier.

  46. Why the hell my kittens is so hyper! Keep on climbing from my feet. And meowing so loud as if they shouting at me 😐
    Why yours are so cute and so gentle 😣❤️

  47. My kitten was very very sick her brother died from it we got her when she was 6 weeks old half dead, now she is 8 weeks and seems alright full of energy playing with big dog (annoying him) but the problem is she doesn't know how to eat, she only gets mother milk from bottle. The problem is that she probably still can't smell good. Any idea how we get her to eat?

  48. Hoping for advice, I rescued recently a 5-week old kitten, underweight and small for it's age. Bottle feeding is going ok but she is actually just over 6 weeks now, always hungry but won't touch wet or dry food at all. It seems like the bottle isnt enough anymore. drinks the entire bottle now and is hungry again soon after. Also, she wants to eat the litter and won't use a litter box besides to try and eat it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  49. This just saved my sanity, I have 2 babies that I've had since they were 24hrs old they just hit their 4 week mark and I wanted to start feeding them from a dish even if it was just milk in the dish. One kitten is all about it the other is just not having it. More bottles it is!

  50. I found a 2 week old kitten in my garden and your videos have been extremely helpful to me. She was scared, cold, hungry and crying all night. Cookie is now 4 weeks old and doing great thanks to you! ❤

  51. Great video! The kitten I've been bottle feeding had a rough start & is very small. He'll be 4 weeks old tomorrow but only weighs 160 grams. Should I wean based on age or weight?

  52. i just raised my first baby kitten this fall, normally i get them a bit older and do feral kitten taming .Those first few weeks of feedings every 3 hours just about killed me. He is finally starting to eat wet food, i am so happy. But it will still be another week or 2 before he will be done with milk.

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  54. I've been adopted by a stray mother cat and her 5 kittens. During a very cold day she moved into the house with her little one in tow. They are eating kibble and wet food and still nursing, I'm guessing the kittens are 12-14 weeks old, they are getting pretty big. Anyway, my question is what do I do? I have 3 that are "my own" plus a mom and her 5 kittens. The kittens are afraid of me and run whenever they see me.

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