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Kitten growth and development stages

Kittens have an incredibly rapid period of growth and development in their first few weeks of life.

“Kittens can start to look like adult cats by 6 months of age”

12 months of age is when they are considered an adult and can be fed adult cat food.

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Wish to get a kitten for a pet? Ask any cat owner, having a feline baby at home is a joy unlike anything else. But raising a kitten is a huge responsibility too, so knowing how to take proper care of one is essential.

How fast do kittens grow?

Kittens grow up very fast, maturing at about 10-12 months of age. The growth slows down as they reach about 30 weeks. While the growth rate varies according to breed, the initial months after the birth of a kitten are critical for every breed.

Why are initial development stages important?

Taking proper care during the initial months are important to kitten growth and their lifelong well-being and health. The right nutrition and environment are necessary for not only kitten development, but for their very survival in the initial months after birth.

Hence, knowing about the different kitten growth stages by following a kitten growth chart and providing the fur babies with utmost care at each life stage is crucial.

So, how do you take care of a kitten from birth till adulthood? Let’s find out!

The different kitten development kitten age chart

For proper kitten care at each stage of your feline baby’ life, follow the tips given along with the kitten development kitten age chart below that follows kitten development week by week:

Neonatal period 0-4 weeks

Kittens at this stage of the kitten growth chart are considered newborns and should be with their mothers and siblings. At this stage, they can't see, hear, or walk. They make very feeble moaning sounds and can just crawl small distances on their bellies.

Things to note

  • Just like human babies, newborn kittens mostly eat and sleep.
  • They weigh around 100-150 grams when they are born and will gain 10-30 grams each day to triple their weight within 21 days.
  • They will start opening their eyes at around 5 days but their vision will clear to perfection only at about 4 weeks.
  • The kittens cannot regulate their body temperature and hence will die without the warmth of their mother and siblings. If you are raising an orphan kitten, make sure to keep them in a warm bed and regulate the temperature to not fall below 32°C.

Steps to take care

  • Take your kittens for a check-up as soon as they are born to rule out any health issues.
  • Monthly deworming is an important part of kitten growth till they are 6 months of age.
  • Keep the kittens in a clean, dry, and well-ventilated area, away from other predatory animals.
  • The kittens should only be fed their mother’s milk every 2 hours to help build their immunity. 
  • If you are taking care of orphan kitties and have to feed them, make sure you choose food that contains key nutrients, especially DHA and colostrum that are found in their mother’s milk. DHA is essential for eye and brain development of kittens, whereas colostrum helps build immunity. 

Weaning period 4-8 weeks

The second stage of kitten growth in the kitten growth chart is the weaning period when kittens transition to eating solid food. It is one the kitten development milestones as they also learn survival and behavioural techniques from their mother.

Things to note

  • The kittens become playful at this stage and start to explore their surroundings.
  • They follow their mother and learn survival techniques from her like stalking prey, grooming themselves, and so on.
  • The kitties will start trying outside food but will still feed on their mother's milk. 

Steps to take care

  • As the fur babies become more adventurous during this kitten development stage, it is important to keep a safe environment for them to explore.
  • Cuddle the kittens and give them toys to play with to help keep them active and stimulate them.
  • Take them to the vet every month for a check-up and deworming.
  • The right food is highly crucial at this stage for the proper growth of the kittens so choose food that is nutritious and contains things like protein, taurine, and omega-3 for the growth and development of the kittens. The food must be easy to eat and digest and should be delicious to entice the kittens to eat. It would be best if you can feed them food that contain DHA and colostrum, which are essential nutrients for their eye and brain development as well as immunity.

Intensive growth 2-4 months

This is the naughty stage of the kitten development chart when your kittens start to show their true colours! An important stage in kitten growth, the personalities of your kitties will come forth during this time making it one of the most endearing stages of kitten development.

Things to note

  • The kittens at this stage are very playful and will use almost 3 times more energy than an adult cat.
  • They will emulate their mother and siblings and will continue learning. This is the ideal development stage to start training them as you would want them to behave.
  • They need a lot of cuddles, petting, and love at this stage since it helps in their overall development.

Steps to take care

  • This is the right age to adopt or put up your kittens for adoption. They are ready to bring joy to a new home, having weaned off and learnt everything from their mother.
  • This is also the right age to vaccinate your kittens.
  • Make sure no sharp objects are lying around the home and take care to put up guards on staircases because kittens are the naughtiest at this age.
  • The right food is still extremely important for the health and well-being of the kittens. They still need taurine and DHA in their food, but since they no longer feed on milk from their mother, they need all the nutrients from the food you give them.

Continuous growth 4 months and above

Your baby kittens are almost nearing puberty and are on the verge of adulthood at this stage of the kitten growth chart. They are not kittens anymore but are almost full-grown cats. So, how do you take care of a kitten at such a crucial stage? The most important kitten care tip for this stage is giving your cat the right food.

Things to note

  • They begin to show ownership by rubbing against and scratching furniture.
  • Your cats will soon show signs of heat if you haven’t neutered/ sterilized them.
  • They will rapidly gain weight and will weigh almost 80% of an adult cat.

Steps to take care

  • Sterilize your cats if you don't want them to breed. Sterilizing also has a positive impact on the temperament of cats.
  • If already vaccinated, you can take your cats for adventures outside the home.
  • Transition your feline friend to adult cat food at this stage since they will now need all the nutrition needed by a full-grown cat.

FAQs

Until what age do kittens suckle?

Kittens usually feed on their mother's milk till they are 4-6 weeks when their mother will slowly start transitioning them to solid food. Sometimes the mother allows kittens to suckle longer for reassurance and comfort.

What do 1-week old cats eat?

1-week old kittens should only feed on mother's milk. If you are raising an orphan kitten, feed them kitten formula, which can be purchased from a pet store. But make sure you consult a vet first.

Can a kitten be separated from its mother?

Kittens should ideally remain with their mothers till they are around 12-14 weeks old for mental and physical development. However, you can still raise a kitten separated from its mother at an earlier stage as long as you provide them with the right care, environment, and nutrition.

Can you bathe a newborn kitten?

It is best to avoid giving baths to kittens till they are at least 4 weeks old since kittens smaller than this cannot regulate their body temperatures and might die of hypothermia. If you need to bathe newborn kittens for some reason, use a warm bath and dry them thoroughly and place them in a warm environment afterwards, or better still use a warm towel to wipe instead of a full-on bath.

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