Kitten timeline: What are your kitten’s milestones?
When will my kitten eat solid food? When will my kitten start to purr? When will my kitten be able to go outside? Mark your meowing munchkin’s milestone moments with our comprehensive kitten timeline...
Kittens go through so many stages as they mature into adult cats that it’s essential to get up to speed with their constantly changing needs – from their physical development to correct socialisation, the veterinary treatments you’ll need to arrange and, of course, their feeding requirements. You and your kitten’s journey starts here!
Birth to 1 week old – sleeping and eating
Kittens are born blind and deaf with eyes closed and ears folded. They weigh between 90-100 grams (3 ounces). In the first week of life, kittens stay close to their mother and do little more than sleep and eat. Astonishingly, by the end of the first week, a kitten will have doubled his or her weight.
A few days after birth, kittens begin to 'mew' to tell the mother cat that they are hungry or in distress.
2 weeks old – senses start to develop
Eyes begin to open – all kittens have blue eyes at this stage – first baby teeth begin to emerge, and a kitten’s sense of smell is developing.
Veterinary notes: This is the age that worming should start. If you’re adopting a kitten, then it’s important to ask questions about when the kittens had their first wormers to ensure they’re fully protected.
3 weeks old – shaky first steps and early purrs
The sense of smell is well developed. Ears are now erect, and a kitten’s sense of hearing is developing. Some kittens begin exploring, although movement will be a little wobbly, and become more aware of their littermates. They may begin to become curious about cat toys, though they are not yet able to run or chase after moving objects. They will sleep frequently and may begin some small self-grooming behaviours. During this week, their coordination will be improving rapidly. Some kittens may begin to purr.
4 weeks old – learning to walk, play and groom
Canine teeth (fangs) will have emerged, and the sense of smell is fully mature. Hearing is well developed, and eyesight is improving. Claws will be retractable. At this stage, a kitten should now weigh approximately 500 grams (18 ounces) and become more active.
Four-week-old kittens will be confidently exploring and developing better coordination that allows them to walk and begin to play with their littermates. With their maturing senses, they’ll be more responsive, reacting to sights and sounds in the environment. Mum will still be grooming her litter, but her kittens will be learning to groom themselves.
The mother cat will begin to leave her offspring for short periods of time and a small bowl of water can be introduced for kittens to drink.
Veterinary notes: Special kitten flea treatment can begin now. If you’re adopting a kitten, it’s important to know what treatment your kitten has received to protect them against fleas.
5 weeks old – first attempts at stalking and pouncing and time to try some solid food
Kittens become much more sure-footed, eyesight is fully developed and there will be lots more stalking and pouncing on littermates. They will be developing social skills with humans and other animals. Their grooming skills will be improving. Kittens may start to use the litter tray.
This is the stage that the weaning process can begin, although kittens are still regularly nursing from their mother. They can try some solid kitten food – very small amounts at first, softened with water and mashed up, served in a shallow bowl. Gradually increase the amount they eat as they grow. Follow the on-pack guidelines to ensure you are feeding the correct amount for the weight of your kitten.
Veterinary notes: Kittens should have had their second worming treatment by the time they’re 5 weeks old.
6 weeks old – playfighting and exploring
Eye colour begins to change, premolars emerge, and kittens are now extremely active. socialising confidently with their littermates, play-fighting, pouncing, and defending themselves – and perfecting their grooming skills. They will be increasingly curious about their surroundings and keen to explore.
At this stage, kittens should be eating four small meals a day.
Veterinary notes: Your kitten should receive their first vaccination.
7 weeks old – running, climbing and jumping
All baby teeth should now be present and eye colour will be changing as the adult eye colour begins to emerge. At this stage, less time will be spent sleeping and more time spent playing as kittens become able to run, climb cat trees and confidently jump off of furniture.
8 weeks old – energetic and independent – but not quite ready to leave mum
Eyes will be completely transitioned to their adult colour and, as their agility and coordination is almost fully developed, kittens will be energetic and much more independent – mummy cat will spend longer periods on her own.
This is a crucial time in a kitten’s social development, and it’s essential that their human carer takes an active part in the socialisation process, without intruding. Touching, stroking and being handled by people are all things that kittens need to learn to enjoy as they aren’t things that they will naturally take to.
The first two months of a kitten’s life is the most important period in which to expose them to all the things that we expect them to consider normal and safe when they grow up, including human interaction. Find out more about the crucial time that cats need people >>
At this stage, kittens should have almost all of their baby teeth and be eating mostly solid food.
This is the very earliest time that you can bring your kitten home, although many feline experts, including the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, recommend waiting until your kitten is 12 to 13 weeks old.
It’s really important that your baby cat stays with their mum and brothers and sisters until they’re three months old to ensure they gain all the nutritional benefit from mum’s milk, which primes them with antibodies to protect them against a range of infections. This time is also when kittens develop important behaviours such as grooming, playing and socialising. Leaving home too early can impact on a cat’s behaviours and wellbeing for the rest of their life.
Veterinary notes: At the age of 8 weeks, your kitten should now have their third worming treatment. They can also now be microchipped, which is not only important so that you can be reunited with your pet if they become lost but microchipping your cat is also about to become law. Your kitten can also begin regular flea treatments – always seek advice from your vet to ensure they receive the most suitable treatment in the correct dose.
Thinking of getting a kitten? Discover how to find a healthy, friendly kitten by downloading The Kitten Checklist >>
For people who want a furry friend but don’t want the commitment of a dog to walk, a cat may seem like the ideal choice. However, even though cats are naturally self-contained creatures, it doesn’t mean they enjoy being constantly left to their own devices. Pet cats still need regular playtime and plenty of human interaction. So, are you ready for a cat? >>
12 weeks old – playtime, training and rest
Once you have brought your kitten home, it’s important to spend time playing with them every day. Also try some kitten training such as having them come to you when you call. And don’t forget to let them get plenty of rest as growing and learning lots of new things is very tiring for a young cat.
Veterinary notes: By this age, your kitten should have had four wormers and then can be wormed once a month. Your kitten will also have their second course of vaccinations at 12-13 weeks, or 3-4 weeks after their first vaccination. This is a booster vaccination to ensure your kitten’s immunity against potentially fatal diseases.
Find out more about Caring for your Kitten with Cats Protection Essential Guide >>
What food should I give my kitten?
When you collect your kitten, find out what they’ve been eating and, if you want to change their diet, do so over a few days by mixing the new food with the kitten’s usual diet. A sudden change of diet combined with the stress of adapting to a new home can cause stomach upsets and diarrhoea.
Blue Cross has these top kitten feeding tips:
- Kittens have small stomachs and have to be fed little and often
- The easiest way to provide a growing kitten with a balanced diet is to feed a premium complete growth diet that has been specially formulated for kittens, which have different nutritional needs to a fully grown cat. Read and follow all feeding instructions carefully
- Kittens aged 8 to 12 weeks need four meals a day
- Kittens aged between 3- and 6-months old need three meals a day
- Kittens over 6 months old need two meals a day
- Do not give your kitten milk as it can cause diarrhoea
- As with all animals, kittens need fresh drinking water available at all times
Burgess Kitten Food
Burgess Kitten Food supports your kitten’s development by giving them the very best start in life. Made using premium ingredients to help those little paws grow, our kitten food is packed with the essential nutrients and proteins to set them on their journey from kitten to adult.
A complete dry food suitable for kittens up to one year of age, Burgess Kitten with Chicken is a unique complete growth support recipe that contains all the essential nutrients your kitten needs to grow into adulthood. It’s also suitable for pregnant and nursing mothers, helping to support growth and development throughout pregnancy and ease the transition to dry food for healthy and content kittens. The delicious recipe is:
- Fortified with calcium to support growing bones and teeth
- Contains antioxidants to support your kitten’s immune system
- Essential fatty acids help to support healthy skin and a shiny coat
- Formulated with prebiotics to support the developing digestive system
- Digestible proteins and essential amino acids to support muscle development
14 weeks old – your kitten will start exploring the big, wide world
By the time your kitten is 14 weeks and they’ve had all their flea, worming and vaccine treatments, they can go outside. It’s essential that you supervise their first forays into the big wide world as they may find it all rather daunting and you don’t won’t to risk them running off and becoming lost.
When first letting your kitten outside, Cats Protection advises:
- Do it when it is quiet and just before a mealtime when they are hungry so you can call them back with their favourite food
- Open the door and step outside, encouraging your cat to go with you
- Don’t pick them up. Let them make the decision to go outside themselves
- Leave the door open so they can run back into the house if they feel insecure
- Only let them out for short periods at first. You can gradually build up the time they are out until you are confident that they can come and go as they please. Always keep them in at night, to protect them from injury and reduce hunting of wildlife
4 months old – time to neuter your cat
Veterinary notes: At this age, kittens, both male and female can be neutered, as they have matured enough to be operated on effectively and safely, although your vet can assess your kitten and advise on the best course of action. Neutering provides many health benefits and prevents unwanted litters – female cats can get pregnant from this age.
FOOD SPECIALLY DEVELOPED BY EXPERTS FOR NEUTERED CATS
While neutering has many positive benefits, it does mean that your kitten or cat’s needs can change. Neutered cats can be more at risk of developing urinary tract infections, have a higher chance of weight gain and hairballs. A specialised diet helps to support all of these additional needs.
Award-winning Burgess Neutered Cat is an advanced high protein recipe contains the essential nutrients and vitamins that your neutered cat needs to help them stay healthy and content:
- High in tasty and digestible meat protein to help maintain lean muscle mass
- *Added L-Carnitine to help maintain a healthy weight
- Formulated to support a healthy urinary system
- We use a specialist ingredient to help teeth and gum health
- The fibre in our recipe helps to prevent hairballs
- Added yucca extract helps to reduce litter tray odours and helps with stool formation
When does your kitten become an adult cat?
You cat is no longer classed as a kitten! Feline experts such as International Cat Care class cats as follows:
- Birth to 6 months – Kitten
- 7 months to 2 years – Junior
- 3 to 6 years – Adult
- 7 to 10 years – Mature
- 11 to 14 years – Senior
- 15 years+ – Super Senior
Veterinary notes: From age 6 months, you can worm your cat once every three months to protect them.
HIGH QUALITY CAT FOOD FOR LIFE
At Burgess, all our dry cat food is made using premium ingredients to ensure excellent quality and superior taste, with kitten, adult, neutered and mature varieties available. What’s more, Burgess Cat Food is a complete food. This means that, whatever variety you choose for your cat throughout their life, it will contain all the nutrients they need in the correct balance.
CARE MORE Find out more about caring for your cat from the pet experts >>
Need nutrition advice? Call our consumer care line on +44 1405 862241 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Our dedicated team of animal experts will help you make the right choice.
If you found this interesting, you may also like:
EARLY LEARNING FOR KITTENS How we interact with, play with and ‘train’ a new kitten will have a big influence on their behaviour around people as an adult cat, so it’s important to go about it in the right way. We’ve plenty of top tips...
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU FEED YOUR CAT? Find out why little and often suits most cats – and the reason why play should be part of your feeding routine…
HOW TO PLAY GAMES WITH CATS OF ALL AGES As well as being lots of fun, play teaches young cats about the world around them, aids their physical development and hones their fabulous feline skills. As cats get older, play is a great way to keep fit, lean and healthy, as well as keeping their brain alert and active.
THE HOMING INSTINCT – CAN CAT'S REALLY FIND THEIR WAY HOME? Top tip – it’s much easier if they’re microchipped! Plus, what a change in the law will mean for every cat owner...
WHY MATURE CATS OFTEN MAKE THE BEST COMPANIONS Kittens are cute, but older cats can be cuddlier. Find out why mature, mellow felines can be the perfect lap-loving companion pets.
GOT A CAT QUESTION? Whether you have a question about ‘Why does my cat lick me?’, ‘Why does my cat bite me?’, ‘Why does my cat stare at me?” or want to know ‘What’s a female cat called?’ or ‘How long is a cat pregnant for?’ we’ve some interesting and informative answers – and you may see your favourite feline in a whole new light...
CAN CATS AND DOGS BE FRIENDS? Do these two distinctly different species have the capacity to become great mates or, will they fight like, well, cats and dogs?
GIRLS V BOYS – FELINE MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS Do male and female cats act differently because of their gender? Are generalisations about laid back, lap-loving boys and aloof, independent girls simply myths – or is there any truth to them?
BEST FELINE FRIENDS FOREVER? For cats, their territory (your home and the surrounding environs) is everything and the arrival of a new feline will be viewed with the utmost suspicion. While humans may think their solo feline will enjoy the company of playmate, your cat is likely to have other ideas.