Kittens develop very quickly and are grown up cats before you know it.
The maturation that occurs during a kitten’s first six months of life
correlates to the first 15 years of a human’s life. From birth to six
kitten changes from a newborn to a sexually mature animal. Kittens seem
to work at two speeds: full power and full stop. They seem to have
unending energy, and then they crash and sleep very soundly. Starting
off with a new kitten is a lot of fun, but if you are a first time cat
owner, you may have questions about what normal behavior is. Knowing
what to expect with regard to kitten development is helpful so you can
work on training your kitten properly and be able to intervene if
behaviors get out of hand. You have the best chance of
molding your kitten into the perfect pet when he is young.
Birth to 1 month
During this period a kitten develops from being totally
dependent on his mother for food, warmth and elimination, to being able
to handle these things on his own. Newborn kittens can neither see nor
they can smell, and they have touch receptors on their faces that enable
them to home in on their mother’s body heat. If you find a newborn
orphaned kitten, you will have to perform the duties that the mother cat
would have performed. These duties include keeping him warm and safe,
feeding him with proper cat milk
replace through a bottle and “pottying” the kitten. Kittens are unable
to eliminate on their own until they are about four weeks old, and their
mothers stimulate them to eliminate by licking their genitalia. You can
replicate this action using a cotton ball or tissue soaked in warm water
and gently wiping the kitten’s genitalia. Make sure you use a feline
milk replace, and not any other kind of milk. Although they love the
taste of cow’s milk, cats are fairly lactose intolerant. They lack the
enzyme needed to properly digest the sugar found in cow’s milk, so more
than a taste or two will usually cause diarrhea.
The mouth is a very important organ for a kitten. A
newborn kitten will start using his mouth within an hour of birth, when
he starts nursing. Kittens nurse every few hours around the clock for
the first couple of weeks of life. Kittens’ ears open around five days
of age. They can orient to sounds at about 10 days, but they don’t
recognize sounds until they are three weeks old. Eyes open between 5 and
14 days after birth, but kittens cannot visually orient until their eyes
have been open a few days. Newborn kittens can feel with both their
front and rear limbs. They can walk with uncoordinated motions at two
weeks and can visually place their front legs and climb by three weeks.
Immunity is passed to newborns when they receive colostrum, their
mother’s first milk, during their first 24 hours of life. They are
protected from most diseases during their first month if they ingest
colostrum, continue to nurse normally and are kept warm and clean by
4 to 6 weeks
Most kittens begin to eat some solid food at four weeks
of age and can be fully weaned by six weeks. It is normal for kittens to
eat dirt or kitty litter during the weaning process, but they learn
quickly that these substances don’t taste very good. Kittens have all of
their baby teeth by six weeks of age. Kittens who go outdoors and are
trained by their mothers can learn some rudimentary hunting behavior
during this time.
This is a very important period in the socialization process. Kittens
who are not exposed to humans and other animals (including other cats)
at this stage can have a harder time adjusting to them later on in
life. Coordinated social play behavior develops during this time. The
kittens’ eyes change from blue to their permanent color, they regulate
their own body temperature and start to control their urination and
defecation during this time. Protection against disease is still mainly
conferred through maternal immunity the antibodies derived from their
6 to 8 weeks
This is the earliest time for a kitten to be taken from
his mother and littermates and introduced into a new home although it’s
best wait until they are at least eight weeks old. A kitten of this age
should be able to care for his own basic needs. In a new home, a kitten
may be scared and lonely at first, but he should be able to adapt.
Maternal immunity wanes, and kittens need to begin their vaccination
series to stimulate further protection against certain diseases. Natural
exposure to viruses and bacteria causes disease, but it also stimulates
antibody production and increases future immunity. Kittens need the
increased protein, vitamin and mineral content of specially formulated
kitten foods to support their growth and development. They are able to
consume both dry and canned kitten foods.
8 to 16 weeks
During this period kittens adjust to their independence
and become stronger and more curious. They grow rapidly and usually gain
about one pound per month. They begin to jump, climb and scratch. Owners
can make a big impact on their kitten’s behavior by training him during
Vaccinations and natural exposure continue to
contribute to the
kitten’s immune system. If not vaccinated, kittens are very susceptible
to viruses such as panleukopenia and feline leukemia if they are exposed
to other cats who have these diseases. The need for a special kitten
also continues, and the kitten will be eating more and more.
16 to 28 weeks
From four to seven months of age a kitten loses his
baby teeth and gets his permanent adult teeth. Biting and chewing
behaviors increase. During this period it is common for kittens to chew
on everything in sight, including your hands and feet. They are able to
continue eating both dry and canned kitten foods.
The animal’s coat fills out and there is more interest in grooming and
scratching behaviors. Most kittens do not reach behavioral sexual
maturity until after six months of age, but they can be physically
mature before then. Kittens allowed outside at this age will roam
farther and for longer periods of time.
Kittens develop very
quickly and are grown-up cats before you know it. The maturation that
occurs during a kitten’s first six months of life correlates to the
first 15 years of a human’s life.......
Cats rely on their natural
instincts for hunting, self preservation and
elimination. Many of the behaviors cat owners deem undesirable are
simply manifestations of natural behaviors.........
Is my cat
cannot tell us how they feel, so it is important to have some
understanding of the signs that a cat is sick. Cats are generally
stoic animals, and often they do not let us know .........
There is no set schedule
for bathing a cat, and some cats may never need a bath. Factors to
consider when deciding about a bath are:.........
nutrition for your cat
Food has a high ranking on
a cat’s top 10 list. It ranks higher than affection from you, cravings
for catnip and clawing the furniture! Food is a treat some ...........
cats are said to have nine lives, they only have one, and you
can help that one along. In the wild cats do a good job of taking care
of themselves .................
As a cat
owner, it is useful to have some basic knowledge about the diseases you
protect your cat from with vaccines. You may be surprised to find out
that vaccines are not as .......
very efficient at reproducing and are able to have several litters a
year with multiple kittens in each. Most cats go through puberty at an
early age somewhere .......
Care for a
not live forever, although we’d like them to. When you have shared your
home with a cat for many years, he becomes an integral member of the
family, and you develop strong ........
is the largest organ of any animal’s body; it comprises 12 to 24 percent
of a cat’s body weight. It protects the cat and is responsible for much
of her external appearance ......
central nervous system is composed of the brain and spinal cord. The
brain is the computer that commands the other parts of the body.
Cerebral spinal fluid surrounds the brain ........
You Catch From Your Cat?
have successfully lived with cats for thousands of years Overall, cats
are extremely safe pets to own, and they rarely transmit diseases to