Ever wondered about the stages of kitten development? We have a fully illustrated guide for you! Kittens are cute, so you can just read through to enjoy the photos. However, knowing what kittens look like and what they can do at various ages can be more than just fun. It can help you assess the age of an orphaned stray kitten so you can provide the best possible care for him or her.
Newborn kittens are born blind and deaf. Their ability to move is limited and they can only maneuver towards their mother's body to suckle and be warm. They cannot regulate their body heat on their own and rely on the mother for warmth, nourishment and protection. Kittens weigh between 80 and 170 grams (2.8-6 ounces) at birth and they can double their body weight during the first week.
The kittens' eyes open and they begin to process input from the outside world. Their movements gradually become more coordinated but they still stay close to their mother with minimal interaction with their siblings or environment. At the beginning of Week 2 the kittens weigh between 150 and 300 grams (5.3 and 10.5 ounces), with males being slightly heavier on average.
As their senses develop so do their motor skills, and the kittens stumble around as they learn to walk. They start exploring their environment, and social interaction with siblings begins during this week too. At the beginning of week 3, kittens average 200-400 grams (7-14 ounces).
While not exactly agile yet, most kittens can walk during the fourth week of their lives, playing with their siblings and with toys too. They also learn to control elimination so it's time to introduce them to a clean and readily available litterbox with non-clumping litter. They may try to taste soft foods now but they still nurse as they weigh 300-500 grams (10.6 ounces - 1.1lbs) at the beginning of week 4 and grow to 350-600 (12 ounces - 1.3 lbs) by the end of the week.
During the first half of the second month, kittens are busy critters! They get their teeth and learn how to use them as they discover soft foods while still nursing. They develop their motor skills by climbing, jumping and running around, gradually improving their aim and balance. Social skills develop as well, so make sure they get plenty of human company. Kittens average 500-900 grams (1.1-1.9 lbs) by the end of the sixth week of their lives.
As jumping and climbing improves, the kittens increase their range and explore distant areas of the room. Make sure their environment is kitten-proof as they are prone to accidents. They spend their days and nights eating, sleeping and playing with each other, as they learn the ins-and-outs of feline social behavior by testing the limits of their siblings' and mother's patience. They are larger now and most kittens weigh over one kilogram (2.2 lbs) at this point, with males being significantly heavier than females.
The kittens are more independent now. With their senses and motor skills fully developed, it is their size which prevents them from reaching certain places adult cats can. At 12 weeks of age they can be safely weaned and go to loving homes. Weighing anything between 1-2.5 kg they are about a third of their final expected body weight.
The kittens can now be called young cats. They still have a lot of growing to do, as physically they are about half their final expected weight. They lack experience and have a lot to learn. They are full of energy and their curiosity knows no bounds. Now is the right time to have your kitten spayed or neutered and establish household routines which could last throughout their lifetime.
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