How long do new kittens need to nurse from their mom?

United States
August 14, 2007 7:28pm CST
One of our outdoor cats just had a litter of kittens a couple weeks ago. We're not exactly sure how old the kittens are though. And, I've noticed that the babies look like they are at least two to four weeks old and still nursing from their mom. The cat mom is doing a great job of caring for them, but I'm worried that she'll abandon them like the last set of kittens. I was wondering how long they will the babies need to stay with her for nutritional purposes. Is there a danger zone time when kittens need their mom the most, that they must absolutely must stay with their mom? Would appreciate some advice on this from someone who has already had kittens in their home. Thanks!
2 people like this
8 responses
@rosie_123 (6118)
15 Aug 07
They are normally weaned between 4-6 weeks, though I have hand reared kittens from a few days old. Once they get to 4 weeks then they can be introduced to soft, sloppy food - fed small amounts at regular intervals, and they should be OK.
• United States
15 Aug 07
Wow! That is amazing. What did you feed the newborns? I would be really interested to find out, because sometimes the local outdoor cats abandon their babies and it is so sad when they don't have milk from the mom. They do not last long.
1 person likes this
@rosie_123 (6118)
16 Aug 07
Well I fed them drom a "dropper" with a mixture of milk and water. I bought them in, and kept them together in a big box with a fleece blanket and a hot water bottle. I was lucky - I didn't lose any of them, and found them all good homes:-))
@luvcatzzz (208)
• United States
15 Aug 07
i absolutely concur with the 8 weeks old age... i've had a boatload of kittens in my house cuz i do rescue work... sometimes if i haven't found homes for the babies, i just introduce them to wet kitten food (canned) and dry and just let them nurse till mom says otherwise. there's absolutely no harm in it. just make sure you have some canned food for them all and if you can get hold of them, when they get their little teeth, stick their little mouth in the wet food to introduce it, some of them take off with that stuff like nobody's business! :-D people who try to give kittens away at 6 or 7 weeks of age do them harm... and it annoys me to no end.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Aug 07
Thank you! Very good information. The mama cat is doing a really great job nursing the babies and staying with them and we have put out a little red crate today because it rained. And, it was sitting under the edge of our truck and that is where she was able to put her babies and now they are dry. I have been worried that she might abandon them before time to stop nursing, but I think she will not, because she is a really good mom. Thanks again for all the tips.
@cikedo (3487)
• United States
15 Aug 07
I adopted an abandoned kitten a few years ago and had to feed him milk through an eye dropper. He must have been only four to six weeks old when I got him and he was still more interested in milk than solid food. He stopped drinking milk all by himself when he was about eight weeks.
@Aurone (4758)
• United States
15 Aug 07
I believe kittens can eat solid food around 4 weeks or so, but they need to stay with their mom for at least 10 weeks for socialization. Otherwise they will retain kitten behaviors. But if she abandons them I don't guess you have a choice about when to separate them from their mother.
@Marie2473 (8523)
• Sweden
15 Aug 07
here in sweden there is a law that says that u are nOt allowed to separate them until they are 12 weeks old and I agree with that law =) However they do know how to eat and stuff by themselves before that. They will do it themself when they are ready for it!
• United States
15 Aug 07
Kittens need there mom till 8 weeks. They will get the most nutrition the first week or two. Feed the mom kitten food to get optimum nutrition for the babies. As long as she feeds them they should do great. If she stops you can also get a milk supliment at a pet store. It has everything the kittens need. But you would have to bottle feed them every few hours. When they reach 8 weeks they can start on solid foods. You might have to soften it with hot water for the first week. Good Luck!!!
@Feona1962 (7529)
• United States
15 Aug 07
I am not an expert but I do believe they should stay with their mom for at least 8 weeks or more. They can eat mushy food about 4 weeks or so. If they make it to 4 to 5 weeks and she leaves, they might have a good chance of survival..
@Calais (10905)
• Australia
15 Aug 07
They can start to be intoduced to sloppy food and water at about 4-6 weeks, depending on how they are taking to it...But they shouldnt be taken away from her until at least 8-10 weeks because they need her to teach them to socialise properly and toilet etc...