They’re unbelievably cute… kittens. They’re born after around 63 days and are completely helpless. After all, a kitten can’t see or hear just after the birth. It’s entirely dependent on the mother.
Kittens start off tiny: they weigh around 100 grammes at birth. They nurse every 2-3 hours. Over the first few days, it is especially important to keep a record of whether a kitten is growing. Weighing each kitten at least once a day will enable you to see whether they’re getting enough milk and growing properly. If a kitten is crying and not gaining in weight, then its mother is probably not producing enough milk. The solution is simple: give him some extra kitten milk.
Starting on solid food
From 3-4 weeks after being born the kittens will be ready for some solid food (preferably tinned) to be added to their diet. This is soft and therefore easy to eat. Kittens need to be fed 5-6 times a day. You can serve the tinned food to them on a saucer. Your kitten will still have to learn to eat from a saucer. You can encourage this by putting a little bit of food on your finger and letting it lick it off. Next, rest your finger on the saucer until the kitten is licking the food off of the saucer. Most kittens have been weaned onto solid food by around 6-8 weeks of age. After this they’ll no longer need to nurse.
Once weaned, a balanced diet is important to ensure healthy growth. Too little, too much or the wrong food could have serious consequences for the rest of the cat’s life.
What sort of food should you give them?
Make sure that the mother is getting enough to eat. In order to be able to produce milk, she will need plenty of energy, i.e. food. The mother needs to have as much food at her disposal as possible (meaning feeding her as and when she wants it). The best thing to do is to switch the mother over to energy-rich food from as early on as two thirds of the way through the pregnancy. This will ensure that she is getting the appropriate food during the final stages of pregnancy and whilst nursing. An additional benefit is that as soon as the kittens start on solids, they can immediately start eating with their mother.
7-14 weeks of age
At 7 weeks old, the average kitten is primarily eating solid food and no longer dependent on nursing. The kittens can now gradually be accustomed to hard kibbles. Soak the kibbles in a little lukewarm water to start with, to make them a bit softer.
7 weeks is the statutory weaning age as of which kittens are allowed to be separated from their mother. The kittens will now also be capable of living without their mother. Our advice is to allow the kittens to be handed over to their new owner at 8-9 weeks old.