Kitten Growth Stages and Development by Week

Dr. Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM
By Dr. Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM
Updated: 6/25/20242-4 minutes
kitten

From when cats are born to when they reach full maturity, kitten growth stages happen quickly, especially during their first weeks.  

Whether you have a newborn kitten or one that’s a little further along, it’s important to track behavioral and growth milestones. 

Of course, you’ll want to know what kind of kitten food to feed and how to litter train them – these are essential to bringing home a new cat.  

Understanding kitten milestones, however, can help you monitor their health, and let you know what to expect in your young cat’s life. 

Here are some important kitten stages by week.  

2-Week-Old Kitten: Eyes Open

When kittens are first born, their ear canals and eyes are closed. They are responsive to touch and temperature changes as well as olfactory cues, but rely heavily on their mothers.  

In the second week of life, kittens’ eyes begin to open, although their vision is not clear, especially when trying to see long distances. They also begin to respond to sounds and may get curious about their environment, but are unlikely to play.   

3-Week-Old Kitten: Walking Begins

In terms of kitten development stages, you may see signs of motor coordination during week three. Your pet will start to walk around and explore their surroundings, sticking close to mom and littermates.  

At three weeks, a kitten’s teeth will also start to appear. The incisors (teeth in front of the mouth) will emerge through the gums.  

Purina pet expert and research scientist Ragen T.S. McGowan, PhD advises, “It is important, even at this very early age, to get your kitten used to being handled by picking up and gently interacting with them every day.” 

4-Week-Old Kitten: Social Play

During the fourth week of life, kittens become more comfortable with moving around – although they typically still stay close by their mothers.  

This is the age when they start to differentiate cat vocalizations and jump into social play. Your kitten’s sense of balance will improve during this stage of life. 

Additionally, they will likely understand how to use the litter box at this point, and become more responsive to sights and sounds in your home.  

5-Week-Old Kitten: Confidence

In addition to the emergence of more teeth, at week five your kitten will be interacting more with people and other animals. They will probably be able to run. Grooming skills will also become stronger.  

6-Week-Old Kitten: Adult Cat Play

By week six, your kitten will begin to behave more like an adult cat in terms of play. This is when you can really start to engage with your growing kitten, teaching them how to play safely and discouraging biting.  

By six weeks of age expect them to start playing with objects.  

“This is a great time to introduce your kitten to things like brushes and nail clippers in a fun way by making a game out of any interaction they have with these,” Dr. McGowan says. “As you hold your kitten, be sure to touch their ears and each foot. This will prepare them for later ear cleanings and nail trims.” 

Weeks 7 to 16: Kittens Continue to Mature

Your kitten will continue to grow bigger and heavier as they reach maturation, and different breeds finish maturing at different ages. “Your kitten’s desire to play is really ramping up at this point but will continue through adulthood,” Dr. McGowan adds.  

As you continue to play with and socialize your kitten, now is the time to establish a comfortable grooming routine. Begin clipping your kitten’s newly long nails and combing or brushing their coat.   

What Should You Feed Kittens?

In addition to getting your kitten on an optimal schedule for vaccinations, your veterinarian can help guide you as you transition your kitten from mother’s milk to kitten food.  

Purina offers a variety of high-quality wet and dry kitten food formulas, as well as useful advice on how and what to feed kittens.  

Remember, if you have questions about kitten growth stages, you can always ask your veterinarian. They can let you know how your cat’s milestones compare to a standard kitten development timeline. 
 
For more kitten insights from our experts, visit our Pet Expertise page.

 

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