How to Wean Kittens

How to Wean Kittens

Weaning Kittens From Mum's Milk to Kitten Food 

How to wean kittens is something many people need help with who have a litter of kittens.

It is something many people struggle with.

Worrying about kittens not gaining enough weight or literally mum giving absolutely everything to her kittens and then drastically losing weight is something many people worry about when they have a litter of kittens.

But actually it is not that difficult to wean your kittens on to kitten food once you know the basics.

Let me show you how I have succesfully weaned dozens of litters over the years.


How to Wean Kittens - Top Tips

I find that weaning kittens can be easy with some litters and much harder with others. I usually start weaning kittens by introducing my kittens to ‘solids’ at about three to four weeks though I do not worry if they are not eating until about five or six weeks old.

Some litters literally dive in the food bowl as soon as I offer them their first meal where as some litters decide that the food I am offering them is in fact poison and should not be consumed under any circumstances.

Tip #1 - Tempt, Encourage & Trick 

When I begin weaning kittens I usually start off with some kitten food that is of a paste like substance and add some hot water to increase the smell of the food. Often this is enough to encourage some of the more greedy kittens to venture over to the bowl and give it a try. If the kittens are not happy to explore this delicacy on their own I am happy to pick them up and place them next to the food bowl.

If they still do not show much interest I will then smear a little on their mouth and feet. Often a kitten will then clean themselves and discover that they do in fact quite like the taste and then proceed to demolish the lot! 

Value Bomb

Trick Your Kittens Into Eating Solid Food

Remember a kitten will lick their paws to clean them and also to use their paws to clean their faces where their tongue cannot reach. All the time they are cleaning they are also actually eating as well and getting used to the taste of food.

Tip #2 - Mum Cat Knows Best

If I am not making much progress I will then allow my queen to clear the plate and clean her kittens. The benefits of allowing the queen to remove all the food are…


  • Waste not, want not! I am always happy to see my nursing queens eat as much as possible.
  • Less cleaning for me.
  • Most important is that I do not want the experience of weaning to be too distressful to the kittens and for them to then associate food with a traumatic experience. Nothing is more reassuring than their mother giving them a good bath and a love.

Tip #3 - Never Give Up

Never one to give up I will retry the above the same day and possibly then bring my finger in to the equation. Have you ever considered how it must be for a kitten that is used to sucking away at their mums ‘milk bar’ to then having food shoved down their mouth. Not very nice at all! So I will try to imitate with my food smeared finger the girls teat in as much as by lightly bouncing my finger around the kittens mouth.

Using Your Finger

Theory being that when a very tiny kitten is looking for a nipple they use two senses….touch and smell and my food smeared finger lightly bouncing around their mouths will imitate their mums milk smelling nipple.

Another useful trick that I like to remember when weaning kittens is that a kitten is used to suckling for their food they are used to having their heads tilted upwards or level and not facing downwards to a food bowl.

I find that if I can get a kitten to lick some food from my finger (keeping my finger at head height) and then very slowly move my finger lower and lower until it is level with a flat feeding bowl (I usually start off with a saucer) I can then try and encourage them to eat directly from the edge of the bowl.

I often find that the kittens will try and suck the food from the edge of the plate (as if the edge of the plate is a nipple) and so I put the food around the lip of the saucer to allow them to suckle their first meals.

Tip #3 - Follow The Leader

Persevere with the most promising prospective eaters in the litter as very often if you get one or two kittens eating then the others start to worry about what they are missing out on. Kittens also hear much better than we do and when they hear their litter mates eating they are more likely to give it a go. Have you ever noticed one kitten start to suckle and then they all wake up and have a quick go at the milk bar?

Keep repeating these little tricks 3-4 times every day and 99% of the time I find by the third day they are on the way to being weaned.

Sometimes you will have four out of your five kittens eating and one that just plain refuses to eat ‘solids’ no matter what you try.

Weaning Kittens

If I have the majority of the litter weaned I will then let the kitten that is not eating go at their own pace and not try and force the issue.

I have never yet had a kitten that has starved to death…sooner or later they join in with their litter mates.


About the author

Ross writes extensively about cats and kittens and has been featured in magazines such as Your Cat and Our Cats and has also guest authored on newsletters for various cat organisations. He is also a guest speaker at cat seminars.

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  1. Hi I’m looking for some advice my cat had a litter and weened fine buy now that they have gone to there new homes my cat is alowing my other cat how is nearly one to Brest feed of her do you have any advice on how to dry my cats milk up or stop this please I’m desperate

    1. Hi Joanna

      She will stop feeding your other cat in her own time no doubt but if you want her to stop sooner rather than later then try reducing the amount of water she is drinking. Either separate her from the other cat suckling until the milk has gone or use an old sleeve, pair of tights or baby grow to form a barrier around her nipples.

      cat in baby grow

      Hope this helps,


  2. Thanks for all the good information. Rescued young cat gave birth to seven kittens on
    April 6. They are fat little things right now. Trying to learn as much as I can. Have had cats before but never kittens.

  3. Hi! I have one kitten at the moment. He refuses to eat.. I’ve tried these techniques and I give him bottles now of a whole can of food and just water. He says it just fine… but if it’s solid he’ll completely dismiss it and wants the bottle. He’s an orphaned baby and I’ve never had it this rough. I’ve been trying to wean him for over 2 weeks now. Please help me out

    1. Hi C

      As your kitten is used to you feeding him from a bottle he finds it strange to take his food any other way. However he is used to YOU giving him food.

      Put the food on your fingers and put your fingers in (and around) their mouth and encourage them to eat from your fingers rather than a bottle. Do this for a couple of days and then move your fingers with food on onto the dish of the same food and once they have eaten the food from your fingers they will start on the food on the bowl. You might try raising the dish from the floor so your kitten does not have to lower their head to eat, as at the moment they are used to raising their head to suckle from the bottle.

      Do not give up, eventually your kitten will realise they can get more food from the food bowl than they can from your fingers.

      Best wishes,


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