The physical changes your kitten undergoes during the first 12 months will amaze you. They will grow from a helpless little ball of fur into a confident young cat. In this article, we take a look at what to expect from your kitten during their first year of life.
Kittens are born totally dependent on their mother’s milk for nourishment and the first few days of life are critical to their survival. Kittens that weigh 300g or more at birth have a good chance of surviving, while very small kittens may need to be taken into care by experienced breeders or vet nurses in order to ensure they get the round-the-clock care that they need.
The First 6-8 Weeks
Kittens are born with their eyes and ears tightly shut and it can take up to 10 days for them to open fully, but they still recognize the sound of their mother’s meow and will respond to her if she calls them.
At 2 weeks old, kittens weigh around 40g and their baby teeth start to come through. Kittens are born with blue eyes that will change color as they mature. When kittens are around 3 weeks old, their ability to focus on objects becomes apparent and they start to play with each other.
Kittens need plenty of human contact at this age in order to ensure that they socialize properly later in life. When kittens are 4 weeks old, they develop their sense of smell and start to move around quite confidently. Kittens usually stay with the mother cat until they are between 8 and 10 weeks old.
At 8 weeks, kittens weigh around 500g and can eat solid food. Their baby teeth start to come through around this time too. Kittens are still quite shy at this age and need plenty of human contact in order to socialize properly later in life.
From 8 to 12 Weeks
Kittens are learning how to be cats during this period. They start to become more independent and will spend time exploring their surroundings. They will also start to develop their hunting skills, stalking and pouncing on objects in order to catch them.
Kittens reach sexual maturity at around 10-12 weeks of age and some may start to spray urine in order to mark their territory. In order to prevent this from becoming a problem, it is best to spay or neuter your pet before they reach sexual maturity.
Kittens up to 4-5 months old are still learning how to be cats and you will need to make sure that their environment is suitable for a young cat. They may not show any fear of most household objects until they are around 5 months old.
12 Weeks to 6 Months
Kittens are fascinated by their reflection at this stage and will spend hours playing with a mirror. They are learning how to be cats so it is important that they have plenty of access to the outdoors during this period.
At around 6 months, kittens will have developed their full hunting skills and you may come across the occasional mouse or bird that has been caught in your home.
Around this age, kittens may start to act aggressively towards other cats that they meet or act shy and hide for the first few encounters. This is normal behavior as they are learning how to interact with other cats.
Most cats are fully mature by about 7 months of age and stop growing once they reach this point. They tend to maintain a good level of health and fitness during their second year of life.
Kittens are now considered to be adult cats and will have attained their full physical size. They may still be learning some of the finer points of being a cat, but for the most part, they will be confident and independent creatures.
At around 10 months, kittens will have reached their full adult size and weight. Their baby teeth start to come out around this time too. They are still learning how to be cats and will play with anything they can find, including small children’s toys that could be dangerous
It is important to keep an eye on your kitten’s diet during their first year, as they can be prone to putting on weight if they are not monitored closely.
What Not to Do When Raising a Kitten
There are some things that you need to be aware of when raising a young kitten. You may think that it is cute to see them play with their food and your old shoelaces and other items, but this type of play can become dangerous at a later stage.
Do not allow kittens access to household chemicals, plants or medications as they may ingest them and become very ill. In order to prevent this from happening, make sure that all dangerous items are out of reach and out of sight.
Kittens should also not be allowed access to the outdoors until they have been spayed or neutered. There are many risks associated with allowing a cat outside before this procedure has been carried out and they may also start to mark their territory with urine.
It is important that you keep an eye on your kitten’s behavior during their first year and take them to the vet for regular check-ups. By doing this, you can ensure that they remain healthy and happy during this crucial stage in their development.
Tips for Socializing Your Kitten
Socializing a kitten is very important and can be done from an early age. Many people believe that kittens are naturally inclined to be friendly, but it takes time for them to learn how to interact with their new family.
Do not force a kitten to interact with other pets or children during this period as they will become stressed and fearful. Instead, allow them to approach and play with these members of the family at their own pace.
Kittens that are handled a lot during this period will be more confident and well adjusted than those that were not held much as babies. If you do not plan on getting another pet, you should consider adopting an older cat so they can help to teach your kitten everything that they need to know.
Like small children, kittens need lots of sleep during their first year and they will also not learn anything if they are constantly tired. Make sure that you provide them with a comfortable place to rest in your home so they can take regular naps.
While some people believe that young cats should be kept away from water, this is not the case. In fact, kittens should be introduced to water at an early age so they can learn how to swim and play.
Tips for Healthy Kitten Weight Gain
Pre-weaning nutrition is critical for the kitten’s optimal growth and development. Kittens who are formula-fed should be weaned onto a diet that is consistent with that of their mother’s milk.
A healthy weight gain for kittens is 1 to 2 grams per day in the first week of life, 3 to 4 grams per day in the second week, and 5 to 6 grams per day during the third week.
Kittens need to eat frequently and should be offered food at least four times a day. Kittens who are nursing should continue to nurse until they are 12 weeks old and then be gradually introduced to other foods.
A diet for growing kittens should include:
- 40 to 50% protein
- 30 to 40% fat
- 5 to 10% carbohydrates
- 5% water
Kittens should not be fed table scraps as this can lead to nutritional imbalances and obesity. Instead, they should be fed a commercial diet that is designed for kittens.
Giving your kitten a healthy diet is essential for their growth and development. Make sure that you provide them with plenty of protein, fat, and water to ensure they remain healthy and happy. socialize them with other people and animals, allow them to explore their environment at their own pace, and give them lots of love. By following these tips, you can help your kitten to grow into a healthy and well-adjusted adult cat.
Encourage Acceptable Behavior and Discourage Unacceptable Behavior
When your kitten is first brought into your home, it is important to establish rules and guidelines for their behavior. This will help to ensure that they grow up to be well-adjusted cats.
Some of the things you should do include:
- Encourage them to play and explore their new surroundings
- Discipline your kitten if they nip or scratch you during playtime
- Do not force them to interact with other animals or people if they are very shy
- Provide them with lots of love and affection to ensure that they develop into confident adult cats
- Make sure that your home is safe for your cat by securing electrical cords, keeping cleaning chemicals out
- Provide them with a comfortable place to sleep, rest, and take naps
When you have a new kitten in your home, it can be difficult to know what is considered normal behavior. Because of this, you should make sure that they always see the vet for a checkup at least once a year. At these times, your vet can help to set guidelines for your kitten’s behavior and offer advice on how to correct any problems.
Kittens need lots of water in their diet, so make sure they always have a bowl of fresh drinking water available. You should also give them an ample supply of dry food as well – each day you should feed the average cat about one-quarter of a cup of dry food per pound that they weigh.
Raising a healthy, happy kitten is a lot of work, but it is definitely worth it in the end.