Q: I brought home a stray kitten and it tries to nurse my older cat, when should I discourage this behaviour?
Q: My vet says my pets are a little overweight. What is the best way to help them get healthy?I have a 6-7 week old female kitten and a 3 year female cat. I brought home the kitten after finding it and that little girl tries to nurse my
older cat. The older one has no issue and cleans the kitten just like it's her own. When should I discourage this behaviour?
A: There is probably no need to discourage the behaviour. A kitten at 6-7 weeks of age, especially a stray kitten, is unlikely to have been weaned properly yet. If your older cat is neutered, she will not be able to produce any milk and the kitten will soon recognise that and stop trying to suckle on her own.
Suckling is a comfort behaviour as well, so she may continue it for a little while, but she will stop on her own eventually. If the older cat is tolerating (and it sounds as if she is) it should not be a problem and will probably help the kitten become accustomed to her new home and family more quickly.
The bigger issue is making sure that the kitten is able to eat well enough. If she is not weaned properly, she may need some help in that department. At 6-7 weeks of age she is old enough to eat solids, but may need to be taught to do so. Offer her soft/canned food at first, mixed in with a little bit of cat milk - if you make the mixture quite mushy she will be able to lick/suck it off the plate. You can then gradually decrease the quantity of milk you are adding in and wean her onto canned food completely. When she is eating canned food well, you can start making some dry food available also, but her teeth will be too small to rely on dry food alone until she is at least 16 weeks (4 months) old, and in some cases it may take up to 6 months.
I would suggest weighing the kitten at least once daily to make sure she is gaining weight steadily. Ideally she should start her vaccination course at around 9 weeks of age, but please take her in to see your vet sooner if you have any concerns.
If you have a question for Dr. Dalya simply send it through to firstname.lastname@example.org
Top 10 Conditions
Petside: Get Started
- Kitten Life
Learn about the different life stages of your Kitten and much more!
- Puppy Life
Everything you need to know about raising a Puppy, all in one place! Check it out.
- Find a Breed
Browse dog and cat breeds to find your perfect pal.
- Diagnose a Condition
Use PetVet to research what's ailing your pet.