Kitty 4

Kitten development: How your kitten grows up

Developmental stages of a kitten

Kittens develop amazingly fast - so within a few weeks the tiny balls of fur with their pointed milk teeth become active kittens that grow into adult cats at twelve months. We explain to you which life phases the baby cats go through on their developmental journey.

The first days after birth

Finally the time has come: The kittens are born! The litter is a scurrying group of little kittens. Thanks to their sense of touch, the little ones can crawl purposefully to their mother's teats. There the kittens drink the nutritious mother's milk. The first milk, also called colostrum, is especially important because they absorb important nutrients and antibodies for a healthy development. The little kittens are born toothless, deaf and blind. They also have very little fur and cannot regulate their own temperature, which is why they depend on the warmth of their mother cat and littermates in the nest. After about three days, their umbilical cord dries out and falls off. The little kittens probably don't notice this at all, because they sleep almost continuously and are only awakened so that they can suckle and enjoy their mother's body care.

Mother cat and kitten

2 - 4 weeks of life

Kittens gain about 100 grams per week: Usually they are born weighing not quite 100 grams and should weigh around 400 grams at the age of 3 weeks. It is best to weigh the kittens every day. This way you can see if the kittens are developing healthily. At about one week of life, the little kittens perceive their first sounds, but are not yet able to orient themselves to them or follow them. Between the 2nd and 3rd week of life, with the eruption of the first milk teeth, the kittens slowly open their eyelids and also learn to regulate their own body heat by trembling their muscles. However, their strength is not yet sufficient to maintain their body temperature permanently. At about three weeks, the little kittens can stand on their feet for a short time and may even clumsily take their first small steps forward. Now they actively make contact with their littermates and their mother and usually defecate and urinate on their own. At best, you should get the baby cats used to going to the litter box right from the start.

Our tip: At the end of the 4th week of life, kittens usually start to eat their first solid food. To ensure that it is easy to digest and does not lie heavy in the little stomachs, dilute the kitten food with water, mash the mixture into a soft mash and feed only small portions at best. In addition, the kittens now always need access to a bowl of fresh water.

small kitten

5 - 9 weeks of life

When the kittens have completed the first month of life, they eat more and more often on their own and suck milk from their mother correspondingly less often. The change in food often leads to digestive problems and diarrhoea. However, this is no cause for concern as long as the kittens look well groomed and do not lose weight.

In the meantime, the kittens become increasingly active, playfully romp around with each other and clean themselves independently. At about six weeks, the socialisation phase begins. This is when the kittens shed any fear of new things and become increasingly curious. You can make great use of this time to get the inquisitive kittens used to future owners, dogs or balconies and terraces. It's best to never leave the kittens unsupervised and make the environment safe. Little by little, the baby cats will also include cat toys in their play sessions. Chasing stuffed mice or small balls helps them coordinate their movements and also strengthens their muscles.

Now is also the time for the first visit to the vet. There you can also find out about possible vaccinations.

Our tip: Even though kittens often seem brave and exuberant during their socialisation phase, give them enough space and time to explore new things without stress and don't push them into unfamiliar situations. Because some kittens may be more sceptical and cautious than their littermates.

3 - 4 month of life

At the age of about two months, kittens develop an understanding of their role in the group. Depending on their nature and what experiences they have had so far, a kitten now develops to be brash and dominant or reserved and submissive. In addition to the littermates, humans now also influence the behaviour of the kittens. As a future cat owner, it makes sense to visit the kittens frequently and to build up physical closeness to them before you bring your kitten home at about 10-12 weeks of age. Once the kitten has moved in with you, an exciting time begins for you with many challenges and discoveries.

Young cat: Your velvet paw becomes sexually mature

At about 4 months of age, a kitten slowly develops into a young cat. During this stage of development, she usually tests boundaries frequently and may even question the hierarchy and thus her own rank in the household. Now the milk teeth also fall out and the permanent teeth grow in. At the age of six months, kittens reach sexual maturity and by the time they are eight months old, they are strong enough to take their first forays into the open air, where they can carefully explore the outside world.


Adult cat: Active time for house cats and free roamers

As a rule, cats are fully grown at 12-15 months, depending on breed and size. Now you can slowly switch from kitten food to adult cat food. The stature of a male cat, especially if he is not neutered, often develops over several years of life: the muscles or the head, for example, continue to grow and make the masters of the cat appear stately and strong. Pure-bred house cats tend to be overweight. That's why it's especially important to keep them busy and active during this stage of their life: With different cat toys you can encourage your velvet paw to chase and romp around. How about our exciting "Craft idea: DIY cat scratching tree - how it works"? Here you can let your creativity run free and build your cat a little climbing paradise or even a big indoor playground.

Senior cat: Cuddling instead of climbing

Although cats grow up very quickly, the phase of life until they become seniors is very long: it is not until they are about 10 years old that they are called senior cats. Your cat sleeps more often and is less active. It is possible that not only house cats, but also passionate outdoor cats seek your closeness more often and prefer to cuddle extensively. But age-related quirks or even illnesses can also creep in now. Does your old velvet paw sometimes seem a bit absent-minded or can't find his way to the litter tray straight away? These could be the first signs of dementia. Or maybe your cat has become stubborn and just turns his ears down from time to time. The best thing to do now is to adjust the food to the lower activity level and the resulting lower energy requirements. This will prevent your senior cat from gaining weight or, in the worst case, developing type 2 diabetes.

Conclusion: Every cat's age is exciting. Although your kitten will grow into a young cat in just a few weeks and grow up quickly, you can enjoy many years of active life with your cat. If you are the proud owner of a free-roaming cat, he will at best spend a whole decade chasing around the fields and then snuggle up by your side as an elderly senior. In our magazine you will find some tips for keeping your cat busy at any age.

How do you live with your cat? We are looking forward to your story!

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