Kitten Development Stages – Pet Tip 249
When we bring a kitten home for the first time to adopt it as a pet, it should be between nine and twelve weeks old. This is so the kitten has a chance to spend time with its mother and so that the kitten becomes socialized with its littermates and learns proper kitten behaviour. But what happens before the kitten comes home? This article will outline some of the important milestones in kittenhood in an effort to familiarize you with some of the stages of kitten development.
Kittens are born blind and deaf and they remain that way for around the first fourteen days of their lives. They use their sense of smell to find their way toward their mothers for nourishment and heat. They really need to stay close to their mothers for these first few weeks as they are unable to regulate their own body temperature. The umbilical cord typically falls off after the first few days of life.
At the end of this two week period the kitten’s eyes will start to open and their hearing begins to develop. For the next two weeks their baby teeth will erupt. The kitten will begin to socialize with its littermates and this is a very important time for human socialization as well. The kitten should be handled gently by different humans so that it gets used to humans.
During the second month of life from four to eight weeks the socialization with humans and littermates should continue. Kittens start their own self-grooming at this time. By the end of this period all the kitten’s baby teeth should have erupted and the kitten will really be into playing with its littermates.
During the third month of life until fourteen weeks of age the kitten’s senses should be fully developed and you should notice a stable eye colour. Kittens will be playing with one another even more and sometimes the play will get rougher. As mentioned in the first paragraph, from nine to twelve weeks or a bit longer is the optimum time for a kitten to go to a new home, and the socialization with new members of the kitten’s new home should continue. By the end of this period the kitten’s adult teeth will start coming in.
The last period in kittenhood is when kittens reach sexual maturity at around six months of age. Kittens should be spayed or neutered at six months of age or sooner to reduce unwanted pregnancies and other undesirable behaviours like marking/spraying and roaming. The kitten will continue to grow slowly until twelve months of age when it is considered fully grown.
Please note that this article lists only some of the milestones in kitten development in an effort to provide some basic information. For a fuller understanding of these stages and other basic kitten/cat information please consider purchasing a book on cat/kitten care. Ask your veterinarian for some recommendations on great books and enjoy this time with your new kitten.