Preparing for Your Kitten’s Developmental Milestones

Kittens with nursing mother

Your Kitten's Developmental Milestones

Do you know what to expect if a kitten will soon be joining your family? Just like human babies, kittens pass through several distinct developmental stages.

Birth to 2 Weeks

Kittens can't see or hear when they're born but will develop those important senses fairly quickly. They'll identify their mother by scent and snuggle close to her and their littermates to keep warm. During the first two weeks, kittens spend much of their time asleep. Unable to handle even the most basic actions themselves, toothless newborns rely on their mothers for food. Mothers groom newborns by licking them, which also helps them go to the bathroom.

By the end of this period, kittens' eyes and ear canals open, making it possible to see and hear for the first time.

2 to 8 Weeks

Kittens can now see, although their distance vision will still be unclear for a while. They'll take their first steps and begin to explore their immediate surroundings. Their senses of smell and hearing will improve dramatically by the fourth week. For the first time, they'll begin to pay attention to the other kittens in the litter.

As they become steadier on their feet, and their vision improves, you'll see the kittens in a litter playing together. Teeth will begin to appear around three weeks of age. During this period, kittens learn how to use a litter box and groom themselves. Although they still rely on their mother for feedings, the little felines will gradually become much more independent.

Socialization takes place during this stage. Through socialization, kittens learn how to interact appropriately with other animals and people. Once kittens are a few weeks old, they can be gently handled for short periods. As they get a little older, play sessions with people should increase. DVM360 notes that it may be more difficult to socialize cats if they haven't had positive experiences with people and other animals before 7 weeks of age.

8 to 12 Weeks

Weaning starts at the beginning of this period. As feedings taper off, young cats can begin to eat kitten food. At this stage, kittens may be separated from their mothers to join new homes. Play becomes a favorite pastime. Kittens enjoy pouncing on invisible prey, zooming through the house, chasing their tails, and play fighting with their littermates or other cats.

3 to 6 Months

When kittens are around three months, baby teeth begin to fall out and are soon replaced with permanent teeth. Now is the time to catproof your home, if you haven't already done so, as teething kittens like to chew on all sorts of objects.

Kittens begin to fill out during this period and change from fluffy balls of fur to lean and muscular young cats. Although your kitten is still young, it will soon be able to reproduce. In fact, cats can become sexually mature as young as six months. Spaying and neutering, the surgeries that prevent reproduction, also reduce your pet's risk of developing certain types of cancers, including breast and testicular cancer.

Spaying or neutering can be performed as young as eight weeks, according to the ASPCA, but should be scheduled for no later than five months to prevent pregnancy.

6 to 18 months

Your kitten is now a teenager and will become fully grown during this stage. Adolescent cats have plenty of energy and enjoy playing with you and other cats and pets in your home. These enthusiastic play sessions can occur at all hours of the day or night.

When your kitten is a year old, it's time to make the switch to adult cat food. When your cat stops growing, it no longer needs the increased calories and nutrients that kitten food provides. If you continue to offer kitten food, your cat may soon develop a weight problem. Start the switch by mixing cat and kitten food together, gradually decreasing the amount of kitten food.

Do you have a new kitten? Plan to pay a visit to the veterinarian within the first several weeks after your new addition arrives. In addition to performing a checkup, your veterinarian will also offer several vaccines your kitten needs to stay healthy. Contact our office to arrange your feline friend's first visit to the veterinarian.

Sources:

DVM360: The Keys to Kitten Socialization, 2/25/17

PetMD: Kitten Development: Understanding a Kitten’s Major Growth Milestones, 3/19/18

Purina: Kitten Milestones and Development Stages by Week

Healthy Pets: Your Tiny Fluff Ball’s First 5 Weeks — 5 Big Milestones You Don’t Want to Miss, 1/24/17

Save on Dental Cleaning

20% off Regular Dental Cleaning During Feburary

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

8:00am

6:00pm

Tuesday:

8:00am

6:00pm

Wednesday:

8:00am

6:00pm

Thursday:

8:00am

6:00pm

Friday:

8:00am

6:00pm

Saturday:

8:00am

6:00pm

Sunday:

closed

closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Wow! Thanks to all the staff at Anderson Vet Clinic. I feel like you all truly love what you do! My kitty, Lola and I always have such a pleasant experience when we come in. Fortunately, it’s usually just for a check-up, but I would not leave Lola in anyone else’s hands but yours. Thank you for your caring commitment!"
    Maya Smith / Los Angeles, CA
  • "I have benefited tremendously from the care my pet received from Dr. Anderson."
    John Doe / San Diego, CA
  • "Fabio wasn’t eating the food I was giving him and I didn’t feel he was getting the nutrition he needed. Thanks to Dr. Anderson, he evaluated Fabio and his current diet to make some recommendations and now Fabio has gone from barely eating to finishing his meals and he looks healthier than ever. You clearly are an expert in your field...thanks so much!"
    Tara Brown / Kansas City, MO

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

    Preparing for Your Kitten’s Developmental Milestones

    Need to hone in on your kitten knowledge? Check out the milestones your new pet will reach during its first year. ...

    Read More

    What Is Ataxia in Dogs?

    Could balance or gait issues mean your dog has ataxia? ...

    Read More

    Fish

    If you’re thinking of getting a pet fish, you should know that your veterinarian has a lot of good advice about pet ownership. Fish can be very rewarding as pets, and you just may be surprised about how much fish actually interact with their owners. Here’s more valuable information about choosing ...

    Read More

    Caring for Senior Cats

    Thanks to advancements in veterinary care, today’s cats can live well into their teen years. It is not uncommon for cats to live to be 18 or even older. However, in order for cats to live a long full life, they need proactive veterinary care to stay healthy. As cats age, they are at greater risk for ...

    Read More

    Feline Stomatitis: Treatments

    Cats rarely display their pain, but cats with feline stomatitis are often the exception. If your cat appears to have mouth pain, is reluctant to eat, doesn't want to groom, is drooling, and doesn't want you to open its mouth, it may be suffering from this debilitating, degenerative oral condition, and ...

    Read More

    Feline Leukemia Virus: What You Need to Know

    Feline leukemia (FeLV) is a virus that weakens your cat's immune system. Unfortunately, when the immune system does not function properly, your cat may be more likely to develop other diseases, such as cancer and blood disorders. How Cats Contract Feline Leukemia Cats get feline leukemia from other cats. ...

    Read More

    Family Cats and Pregnant Women: Take Measures to Prevent Toxoplasmosis Infection

    Nothing must spoil the joys of becoming a new parent. Not even your pets. But family cats with normal, every day habits can pose a risk to expectant women. Women's immune systems can be disturbed by a parasite carried in fecal matter. If you're the primary caretaker of your family's feline friend it ...

    Read More

    Create an Environment Your Cat Will Love

    The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery confirms that feline emotional wellbeing, behavior and physical health are a result of how comfortable they are in their environment. Understanding how our cats interact with their environment can help us create a space for owners and cats to mutually thrive ...

    Read More

    Catnip: Why Cats Love It

    Few things stimulate a cat's pleasure faster than catnip. Exposure to this simple herb can reveal a new side to their feline personality. Many cats will go crazy at the smell of this plant. Catnip has a reputation of being a feline drug and many cat owners wonder if it is safe to give it to their pet. ...

    Read More

    Zoonosis

    Zoonosis refers to diseases that can be transmitted to humans from animals. In particular, they occur when an infected animal passes on bacteria, parasites, fungi or viruses to humans through scratches, saliva, feces and urine. Vectors (e.g., organisms like fleas and ticks) can also carry zoonotic diseases ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles