Spring is most definitely here, and that means kitten season is just around the corner. Kitten season runs from April to late autumn, and it’s the time when cats tend to breed and give birth.
We’ve taken a closer look at how kittens grow and develop, to help answer the most common questions. From when kittens first open their eyes to the age at which they become an adult cat, this guide should help you understand the various stages of kitten development. And if you’re thinking about getting a kitten, make sure to check out our kitten checklist! It’s full of all the information and handy tips you should know when adopting a kitten.
A kitten’s first month
Kittens grow and develop incredibly quickly in the first month. They’re born with both their eyes and ears closed, so for the first week or two they’re blind and deaf. It’s their sense of smell that helps them know where their mum is.
At around 2 weeks of age, their eyes will finally open. Their eyesight can take a little while to develop so it’s recommended to keep them away from bright lights at first. All kittens are born with blue eyes, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll stay that way—eye colour can start to change from week 3. In their second week, kittens’ teeth will also start to come in (but they won’t have their full set of baby teeth until about 8 weeks old).
At 3 weeks, kittens’ ears will also start to open up, allowing them to hear. While kittens can make small sounds from birth (usually to let mum know that they’re hungry!) they’ll start purring from around 3 weeks old and will become more vocal as they grow. It’s also at this age when kittens start to take their first wobbly steps.
With a full set of tiny senses developing, and having learned how to walk more confidently, kittens will start to explore at 4 weeks old. This means it might be time to start kitten-proofing things around the house, so why not take a look at our guide to cat-proofing your home.
The second month
From 5 weeks of age, some kittens might start showing an interest in their mum’s food. They can start being introduced to kitten food, but mum will carry on nursing them for a few more weeks. This gradual process will help them get used to solid food. Around this time they can also be introduced to the litter box. They can learn a lot just by watching their mum, but it might take them a little while to get the hang of things while they’re learning!
Socialising is a vital part of kitten care, and helps them grow into a well-adjusted adult. Starting to socialise kittens at around 5-6 weeks of age will allow them to get used to a range of surroundings—and people.
A kitten’s first set of vaccinations should be done between 6-8 weeks of age, which means the first trip to the vet. From here, your vet will inform you about the timeline of further vaccinations.
The third month
While weaning can start from week 5, kittens should be fully weaned onto kitten food by the age of 9 weeks. They now have a full set of baby teeth, and can eat either dry or canned kitten food (which is extra high in protein and fat for growing kittens).
During this third month, kittens will still be learning the basics of being a cat—mostly from their mum. Everything from how to communicate and play with other cats to how to use the litter box will be picked up from watching their mum in action and spending time with their littermates, particularly up until the age of 10 weeks. For this reason, it’s important that kittens stay with their mums and littermates until at least this age.
Ready for new homes
From 10-12 weeks, kittens can be rehomed. There’s another set of important vaccinations at 12 weeks of age, and this is a good time to discuss neutering. It’s recommended that kittens are neutered at around 4 months old, after their vaccinations, although some vets may wait until 5 or 6 months.
And if you’re planning to give your kitten access to outdoor areas, you might be wondering: when can kittens go outside? Once a kitten has been both vaccinated and neutered, it’s safe for them to have supervised access outside. It’s best to keep an eye on them, and make sure they seem confident enough in the house before letting them explore the garden.
All grown up
So we’ve looked at how kittens grow, but when does a kitten become a cat? A cat is considered an adult from one year old, and can be switched to adult cat food. Cat adolescence tends to last until the age of 18 months though, so your adult cat might still act like a kitten and may even have a bit more growing to do. By 18 months, cats will mature and settle into adulthood.
16/03/2022 by NatuTeam