What To Expect: Kitten Growth And Development

Kittens are dependent on their mother’s care for survival from birth to about 6 to 8 weeks. It’s pretty remarkable to watch the progression from a helpless neonate to a curious athlete in less than two months! Knowing what to expect from your birman cat for sale as a kitten can help set you up successfully for every stage of their life.

Newborn Kitten

With the exception of catteries, or cat breeding facilities, it seems many feline births are an oops! People are often surprised to learn that cats have seasonal reproduction, meaning they are designed to give birth during warmer, longer days. Cats as young as five to six months can be reproductively mature enough to become pregnant, especially if the season is correct.

A mother cat is called a Queen, and she typically has a litter of 3 to 5 kittens at a time. Gestation is just over two months, around 63 days. Queens don’t have many special needs during gestation, other than a good quality diet meant for growth, such as a kitten food.

If you live in an area with fleas, flea control is very important, as flea anemia is one of the many causes of neonatal feline death. Always discuss the use a flea control product on a pregnant animal with your veterinarian, not all are safe!

Kitten Dependent on Mom

Cats are typically devoted and caring mothers, which is necessary since kittens are 100% dependent on their mother. She will clean them, nurse them, keep them warm and even has to stimulate urination and defecation for the first 3 to 4 weeks.

Most Queens have started to wean their kittens by 3 to 4 weeks of age. This is a good time to start introducing ‘solid’ food. Canned kitten food mixed with kitten milk replacer is a perfect way to start. Prepare for a mess! It can take 1 to 2 weeks for kittens to figure out how to get that food successfully into their mouths.

Kitten Development

Kittens are born with their eyes and ears sealed shut, rendering them blind and mostly deaf at birth. The ear canals typically open between 10 days and two weeks of age, and eyes open between one and two weeks as well. Kittens are born with a good sense of smell, which is crucial for them to help locate their food source- milk!

They are born with no teeth, and will start to get deciduous, or ‘milk’ teeth around 3 weeks of age (no coincidence that this coincides with weaning!). Kittens have 26 deciduous teeth, which will all fall out and be replaced by 30 permanent teeth by the time they are 6 months old.

Most kittens can stand by 10 days of age and are capable of walking on their own by three weeks. By 6 to 8 weeks, kittens are agile and active!

Kitten Growth

Kittens usually weigh 3 to 4 ounces at birth and by one month of age, most kittens weigh a pound. A general rule of thumb is that kittens gain about a pound a month until 6 months of age. Growth varies after that, depending on the size the cat will be when full grown.

Kitten Litter box training

About when kittens are weaned is a great time to introduce them to a litter box as well. Kittens are inclined to use the bathroom in sand-like surfaces. Many just ‘learn’ to use the box when it is strategically placed near them. They also follow their mom’s lead.

Limiting the amount of space the kittens have access to will help aid in litter box training. Cats are clean creatures and don’t prefer to urinate or defecate near their food sources, or their beds, and will choose a box over soiling near food and comfort.

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