Kitten Milestones and Development Stages by Week

Kitten growing while laying on lap

From when kittens are born to when they reach full maturity, kittens go through many changes, especially during their first weeks. 

Whether you have a newborn kitten or one that’s a little further along, here are some behavioral and growth milestones to expect in your kitten’s life.

Week 2: Kittens’ 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. They also begin to respond to sounds. 

Week 3: Kittens Start Walking

In week 3, your kitten’s motor coordination starts to develop and she will start to walk around and explore her surroundings, sticking close to mom and her littermates. 

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 her every day.”

Week 4: Kittens Begin 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.

Weeks 5 & 6: Kittens Advance to Adult Cat Play

In the fifth and sixth weeks, your kitten will begin to behave more like an adult cat in terms of play. This is when you can really get social with your growing kitten, teaching her how to play safely and discouraging biting. 

By five weeks of age your kitten will start to run, and by six weeks of age she will play 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 she has with these,” Dr. McGowan says. 

“As you hold your kitten, be sure to touch her ears and each foot. This will prepare her 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 she reaches 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 her coat. 

For more tips on grooming, check out the Purina Pro Plan Guide to Cat Grooming. 

What Should You Feed Kittens?

In addition to getting your kitten on an optimal schedule for shots and 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

For more kitten development insights from our experts, visit our Pet Expertise page.

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