476 Myrtle Ave

Brooklyn, NY 11205 US

(718) 623-3999

Open mobile navigation

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 to Clinton Hill Animal Clinic?

Sign-up to request more information!

Office Hours

Monday:

10:30 am-7:00 pm

Tuesday:

10:30 am-7:00 pm

Wednesday:

10:30 am-7:00 pm

Thursday:

Closed

Friday:

10:30 am-7:00 pm

Saturday:

10:30 am-5:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "To Dr Dendtler and Staff, I cant begin to tell you how impressed I am with the loving care you have given to my cat Baxter, before and after the much needed surgery. Baxter is so pleased with the outcome; he goes around purring all day."
    Thanks again. -Estelle P.
  • "Dear Pamella, We want to thank all of you so much, not only for the loving care and consideration you showed us last Thursday when we had to say goodbye to Gericho but also for all the years of check-ups and other crisis' that we went through with him. We know it was your good efforts that allowed him to live a full and vigorous 16 years that gave us so much pleasure. Please know that we have always found your staff to be so courteous and helpful all these years."
    Thank you. -Cathy W.
  • "Dear Dr. Dendtler, You were very thorough and caring in treating Buddy. You explained clearly how to protect my dog. I have been to many clinics but you are the best. You were very professional and compassionate. Buddy and I are very grateful. Thanks ever so much to you and your staff."
    John L.
  • "Hi Dr Dendtler, Thank you so very much for fixing my eye. I can see clearly now…I can see all obstacles in my way! Love Vernell R"
    Vernell R.

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles