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

New Patients Receive A Free Consultation

Office Hours

Monday:

7:30 AM-6:00 PM

Tuesday:

7:30 AM-6:00 PM

Wednesday:

7:30 AM-6:00 PM

Thursday:

7:30 AM-6:00 PM

Friday:

Closed

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

From our happy pet owners

  • "I love them! They took great care of my frenchie at affordable pricing! Was able to call in and two days later able to get an appointment and get his vaccines done! Usually you have to sacrifice quality with convenience. But animal care veterinary clinic was both! Absolutely will come here for all of my furbabies needs!"
    Jhoana P.
  • Health Problems Common in Large Dogs

    Do you know what health problems your large dog could develop? ...

    Read More
  • Does Your Pet Have an Abscess?

    Could that lump on your pet's body be caused by an abscess? ...

    Read More
  • The Do’s and Don'ts of Pet Summer Safety

    Do you know how to keep your pet safe this summer? ...

    Read More
  • The Most Common Vaccinations for Your Cat and Dog

    Do you know what vaccines your cat or dog needs? ...

    Read More
  • 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
  • Feline Ear Issues

    Most cats will never have a serious problem with their hearing during their lives. However, several ear issues can affect cats. Many of these can cause discomfort or pain, but some may even lead to a partial loss of hearing or deafness. Ear issues in cats can have a variety of causes, including infections, ...

    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
  • Hypertension

    Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is fairly common in cats. Although it can occur on its own, it is usually a sign of other serious health problems. High blood pressure can also cause problems with other parts of the body, including the eyes, kidneys and heart. Cats are more likely to develop high ...

    Read More
  • Hyperthyroidism in Cats

    Hyperthyroidism is a condition that causes a cat’s thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone. This disease most often shows up in middle-aged and older cats. The thyroid gland is located in the neck. Thyroid hormones affect most organs in the body, so hyperthyroidism can lead to other problems ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup