Kittens full of wonder and surprise as they learn about their bodies and how to be a cat. From start to finish, every stage of kitten development brings something interesting and fun to watch as they grow.
Learn what to expect at each milestone so you can make sure your kitten is receiving proper nutrition, plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, and the preventative health care they need at every stage. A healthy pet and a happy, long-term relationship is a two-way street.
Kitten Development Milestones: 0-2 Months
- Eyes and ears open
- Baby teeth emerge
- Reliant on mom for nutrition
- Learning to groom
In the first few months, everything is new and exciting to kittens. From first sights, sounds and tastes, there is so much to experience! Kittens at this stage are adorable little sponges taking in all of the information surrounding them.
For their first two months, kittens busily nurse on mom and their baby teeth start to come in, preparing them for other foods as they mature. At this time, mom is teaching her kittens how to keep themselves clean, although she still does almost all of the work.
Kitten Development Milestones: 2-6 Months
- Learning to use litter pan
- Losing baby teeth
- Switching to kitten food
- Ready for first vaccines
Between the ages of 2 and 6 months, kittens learn more about independence. They now are mature enough to start eating kitten food, and they start to lose their sharp little baby teeth. Soon the kittens get their adult teeth, which—with good care—will last them a lifetime.
By 8 weeks of age, kittens are old enough to wean off mom and can be adopted out to their forever homes. They should have mastered using the cat litter box by now (most kittens learn this skill quickly and easily if the litter box is kept nice and clean), and they should have started their preventative health care routines with their kitten shots.
By 6 months of age, it’s recommended that kittens should be spayed (females) or neutered (males). For more information on these procedures, see 5 Questions About Cat Spaying and Neutering, Answered.
Kitten Development Milestones: 6-8 Months
- Becoming more independent
- Perfecting social skills
- Ready for regular flea, tick and heartworm prevention
At 6-8 months old, kittens are more like young adults than the babies they were just a few months ago. This is like the “teenage” stage of kittenhood.
At this stage, kittens are growing more independent, developing their social skills and mastering their environment. Almost all of their adult teeth are present by the end of this phase, which opens up the door to many kitten food options.
If you’re unsure what to feed kittens from now until 1 year of age, one option is Castor & Pollux’s Organix grain-free. This certified organic dry kitten food contains free-range chicken as the first ingredient and includes a superfood blend of flaxseed, coconut oil and cranberries.
Keep up with proper kitten care by finishing up important vaccines, spaying or neutering your kitten if you haven’t yet, and getting her started on regular flea, tick and heartworm prevention. Make sure you select a flea and tick preventative formulated for kittens, such as Onguard’s treatment, which contains a six-month supply for cats and kittens at least 1.5 pounds and 8 weeks or older.
Kitten Development Milestones: 8-12 Months
- Need teeth brushed regularly
- Reached adult size
- Can move to adult cat food
By 8-12 months old, kittens are savvy, mature creatures. They are close to adult size and have all of their adult teeth, which need regular brushing to stay healthy for a lifetime.
Invest in a cat toothbrush and toothpaste. Arm & Hammer’s kitten dental kit includes a toothbrush, toothbrush cover and toothpaste designed for a kitten’s sensitive teeth and gums and to help you train your kittens for regular brushing throughout their lives.
Near the end of the this phase you can move your kitten to adult food, such as Castor & Pollux’s Organix grain-free canned food. This certified organic food has free-range chicken as its first ingredient and includes a superfood blend of flaxseed, coconut flour, dried egg and cranberries.
Kittenhood can be challenging, but it’s full of delights along the way. Enjoy it, and someday, you will look at the beautiful creature sleeping in the window and remember all of the fun you had together during the kitten years.
Dr. Sandra Mitchell is a graduate of the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine. She enjoys working with all animals, whether they be cats, dogs, rats, ferrets, guinea pigs or an even wild creatures. She currently works as a relief veterinarian—meaning that she help out at other veterinary offices when a doctor needs to go on vacation—and teaches both veterinarians and veterinary students.
Featured Image: By Chewy Studios