What My Cat Taught Me About Extended Nursing

Eight weeks or so ago, my cat blessed us with six (!) fat and fuzzy kittens.  Since cats don’t get marketing targeted at using formulas and bottles ( and I imagine bottle feeding six kits with no thumbs would be rather difficult) she nursed them – all of them – often.  She fed her babies where ever she was and when ever they were hungry, and I don’t think the dogs ever once told her to cover up or go to the bathroom.  At eight weeks old, these kittens are still nursing, and no one has yet looked at her in disapproval and asked WHEN she was going to wean those babies — doesn’t she know they don’t “need” to nurse anymore, that they should be all grown up and sent off to new homes?

Granted, there are times that she’s obviously touched out by all the fuzzy attention, and it’s quite amusing to see her walking across the room with a kitten attached to a nipple, desperate to keep walking and sucking.  At the same time, though, she invites them to come cuddle several times a day.  She’ll appear, making her special growly meow and kittens erupt from everywhere, rushing to mom.  She lays there, content, covered in kittens.

Kittens at nine weeks...still nursing away!

The little fuzzies are eating solid food.  They don’t “need” to nurse for nourishment.  Yet they do, and she allows it.  It makes me wonder why.  Does she have some momma cat instinct that tells her they still need it?  Does she enjoy it?  If a cat can take cues from her progeny and allow them to self wean, why can’t we?  Why are we so focused on dates and times and set weaning schedules and when the right day of the week is to introduce solids?  It seems more natural to just go with the flow and let it happen.  She’s never done this before, she’s read no books and has no other mama cats to talk to or get advice from.  It’s all instinct, and it seems to work just fine.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Breastfeeding mom and cat lover
    Aug 23, 2011 @ 01:30:48

    I love the story. I have also seen some cats do this but I never put it together like that. I am breast feeding my son and was wondering if I should wean him or not at thirteen months… But I have been reading articles like this and now feel my son will wean himself when he is ready. Thank you !


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