Baby kittens go from fur blobs to rambunctious energy balls very quickly indeed, and the speed can often catch new pet parents off guard.
The first six weeks of a kitten’s life is when this amazing growth happens, so to help you plan week-by-week, we’ve laid it all out for you below.
There are important general feline wellness facts to know at each stage of this journey to ensure you end up with a healthy, happy cat.
A newborn kitten, like a baby, is completely helpless on its own, needing its mother to feed them, keep them warm and keep them sanitary.
Kittens are small when born, fitting into your hand and weighing mere ounces.
This first week their umbilical cord will fall off, they will double their weight, and they will do a lot of sleeping when they aren’t nursing.
If you need to feed a week-old kitten yourself, you’ll want to measure out 8cc of formula for each ounce of body weight for a normal, healthy kitten.
We recommend you weigh them each day to get an accurate reading, and you can gradually increase the amount of formula as you decrease the number of feedings.
This is the week that your kitten will see for the first time.
Keep in mind that their pupils aren’t yet working properly, so they should be kept away from bright lights.
As well, their vision is still blurry, so they won’t be able to recognize much or see any dangers.
At this point, your kitten will be gaining about 10 grams per day, still fed entirely by their mother’s milk.
Their mother should be given a high-quality canned kitten food so that her energy, nutrients and mineral stores are being replenished correctly.
In the second week, your kitten’s sense of smell will also develop, helping them to learn what their mother and siblings smell like.
In week three, kittens’ ears are one of the main areas development: their ear canals open entirely, ears can be fully erect, and they will start to learn new sounds every day.
You’ll perhaps notice that their eyes change from baby blue to their final adult colour.
Three-week-old kittens can also use the ‘toilet’ automatically, though that means that they go where they are and their mother continues to clean them up.
Sometimes you’ll see baby teeth start to poke through, which starts to number the weeks left that mama cat will be weaning them.
Lastly – if you’re very lucky – you may hear your cat purring as early as week three.
Around the third or fourth weeks, kittens start trying to stand and move around on their wobbly legs, even though their little bodies are out of proportion and therefore difficult to control.
This week is when you’ll start getting run ragged, as they escape the nest and begin to foray out further and further.
They will also start to play and interact with their siblings more, start developing their own little personalities and making friends.
If your kitten is still nursing, as they probably still are at this point, make sure the mother is still getting nutritious food to keep her going.
Week five is when kittens can start to eat canned food, and we recommend that you give them the same high-quality kitten food that you’ve been feeding their mom all this time.
We also recommend that you choose one that has a meat source as their first ingredient, so that they’re getting the correct nutrients their growing bodies need.
When you serve them, be sure to put it on a shallow plate so they can reach it easily.
Despite getting solid food, kittens shouldn’t be weaned until they’re at least eight weeks old, as they still require the suckling experience.
Lastly, week five brings a start to toilet training, but you’ll need to set them up with something different than their mother.
Because they’ll need to be able to climb in, you’ll have to find a very shallow plastic storage box, or perhaps a shoe box lid.
As well, avoid clumping cat litter for kittens, instead tearing up paper strips or using wood chips or corn cobs.
Week six is when you start to really focus on socializing your kitten, so that they become affectionate adults.
Kittens will enjoy running around and pouncing on their siblings, their mom, or anything else that moves.
Feel free to play with them, in order to teach them to be comfortable around humans; especially if their mother is not, because they will learn from her primarily.
Due to the amount of growing they’re doing, they’ll still be doing a lot of sleeping.
Contact Bickford Park Animal Hospital
Raising a healthy cat is a big responsibility, but we’re here to help.
If you’ve got a new kitten addition to your family, you’ll want to have a vet to help you stay on top of their vaccines, measuring their development and answering your many questions.
Call now and have Bickford Park Animal Hospital help you prepare for and nurture your new fur baby for a long and healthy life.
Bickford Park Animal Hospital is a veterinary clinic in Toronto, located across from Christie Pits park, committed to the highest level of caring and treatment for cats and dogs.