At four weeks, the kittens start to explore outside the nest, and experiment more with solid food. Supply them with food specially formulated for kittens to make sure they receive the nutrients their rapidly growing bodies need.

As they eat increasing amounts of solids, their excreta changes and their mother stops cleaning up after them – so now it is time to provide them with their own litter tray. If they do not learn to use it from their mother, place them on it after every meal; leaving a small amount of excreta in the tray from their last elimination will help them recognize where to go at first.

Queens naturally wean their kittens themselves as their milk gradually dries up five to six weeks after the birth. At this age, the kittens should be fully weaned on to solid kitten food, although they may still return to mum for the occasional comfort suckle if she allows it. By eight weeks, the kittens are usually fully independent of their mother as regards food and hygiene requirements, and are ready for rehoming. For information about kitten care from eight weeks onwards.

Although when playing with them and teaching them to fight, the mother can sometimes appear to be quite rough with her babies, even making them squeal, she is not really hurting them, so this is nothing to be alarmed about.

Despite your best attention, things can always go wrong, and it is wise to be ready for any eventuality.