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
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
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
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 by 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 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
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.