Are You Monitoring Your Kitten’s Development Stages?

Your cantankerous cat lady received a comment from a reader today. He read one of my posts and mentioned that kittens were his favorites. I got to thinking about kittens

Large round basket, 5 kittens

Kittens in a Basket

and decided a post about your kitten’s development stages might be just the thing. After consulting the Google oracle, I gleaned the information to present to you. It comes from a story on “The Spruce Pets.”

A kitten’s first year is vital to their physical development. It is equally important that the kitten bond with their human in the early weeks, as that sets the pace for both the relationship and for any personal development.

KITTENS ARE DIFFERENT FROM CATS

Remember that kittens are not just miniature cats. Like human babies, they change

White kitten resting on brown, black fabric

Checking the scene

in behavior as they grow.

Ideally, a kitten should stay with mother for at least 12 to 16 weeks. Though weaning takes place between five and seven weeks, the additional time with the mother helps the kitten learn socialization skills. When adopting a kitten, wait until it is at least 10 weeks old before bringing it home.

REMEMBER THAT THE FIRST SIX WEEKS ARE VITAL

These first six weeks do a great deal to determine the kitten’s personality and character for the rest of its life. If you adopt a

Tiger kitten in startle mode, fur and tail fluffed

Ferocious!

feral kitten, you need to bring it home at a very young age, or it may have trouble adjusting to domestic life.

Health threats can be a problem for developing kittens. Examples could be a flea infestation or an upper respiratory infection. The small cat grows at a remarkable rate during this time, and watching this rapid development from week to week can be an eye-opening and sometimes very amusing experience.

SEVEN TO TWELVE WEEKS

This is the age when most kittens are adopted. They develop social skills at this time Portrait of grey tiger kitten with white feetby observing their mother, playing with other kitten family members, or interacting with their new human family.

These weeks are times to develop the skills of running, jumping, stalking, and pouncing.

Kittens and humans can engage in interactive play during this time. Paper bags or containers such as cardboard boxes make good game props.

The kitten will continue to grow rapidly during this time, and its motor skills will develop as it practices chasing and capturing “prey.” The kitten will also become more selective about its sleeping spot.Three kittens, shades of chocolate brown

THREE TO SIX MONTHS

Around four months, the kitten starts to lose its baby teeth. The gums may be painful. A little dental care at this time is a good idea — massage those sore gums with gauze. Give the kitten a plastic drinking straw to play with and use for a teething aid.

Your growing kitten may go through a plump, fluffy stage to a long and lank look. Then he will get taller, and then plump out again. During this time the kitten should continue eating kitten food, for extra nutrients to aid in the development of strong bones and teeth, and healthy muscles.

Your kitten should be spayed or neutered between three and six months. Their

Grey kitten, raised head, in outdoor greenery

It’s a big ole world

sexual maturity can vary, but both female and male kittens can become sexually active as young as four or five months. Consider early spaying or neutering.

SIX TO TWELVE MONTHS

By this age, the kitten will start to show the physical and social traits of a cat that is full-grown. By the age of 12 months, your “baby” will be in the same stage of development as a 15-year-old human. During this time he may not seem as responsive to you. Like young humans, he is “trying on” adulthood. He may also be playing a “dominance game” with you, as he might with another cat or kitten. Your patience will be rewarded if you give affection and love. Eventually the youngster will come around and be more responsive.  Enjoy your kitten’s development stages — like with a human baby, the kitten will not be a baby for long.Portrait of 4 dark grey kittens, blue eyes

 


4 Responses to Are You Monitoring Your Kitten’s Development Stages?

  1. Rachael says:

    Hi Fran,
    So glad I came across this information! We recently adopted two kittens – they were rescues, but fortunately they were with their mother until we came to adopt them. They’re still quite shy and getting used to the place, and we had them spayed this week. (They’re 5 months old now, which we understood to be a good age to have that done.) I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to spend this time with my kitties while they’re young. Of course we cherish our babies as they grow, but there’s just something special about raising a kitten into a cat. So much love!
    All my best,
    Rachael

    • Fran Kelso says:

      Oh, I am glad you saw the kitten article. You are so fortunate. You now have two living creatures that you can love and observe through their complete life cycle. Though it is sad that we lose our babies before we are ready, it is also rather wonderful that we can be with them throughout their entire life. I know you will enjoy them, and by spending time with them when they are young, you will create a bond that will last for their whole time on earth. Yes, there is something special about raising these two. What do they look like? Are they a certain breed, or one of the wonderful cat mixes that are out in the world? A kitten — I must admit to a bit of envy. Enjoy!

      • Rachael says:

        Oh! I wish I could post a photo here for you! I’m not sure about breed – they were found with their mother under someone’s shed when they were babies. But the girls are sisters, and they’re both all black. One has a tuft of white fur on her chest so we can tell them apart. <3

        I post photos of them on my blog occasionally. I can't help myself, I'm a proud kitty mama. I'll share one of the links so you can see!

        • Fran Kelso says:

          Well, I wrote you one answer and this machine deleted it, so will try again. I’d love to see a picture. If you send one, perhaps I can put it on here. When we lived in Kodiak, we adopted two black kittens, and at first it was really hard to tell them apart. Then, as they developed, one grew long and lean, like a miniature black panther, and the other one plumped out, as befitting his Mellow Cat personality. Actually, I can show you a picture of them. Go to celebratingcats.com/cats-that-make-you-laugh-can-help-your-health. You will read of a few of their exploits…I think it will give you a chuckle.

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