A Kitten’s Developmental Stages


Here are some tips I gleaned from the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) about what to expect of your kitten during the different stages of development.

As with all animals, humans included, early socialization increases skills in all areas of development.

In their first 2 weeks of life, kittens respond to sound. By two weeks old their eyes should be open.

Mama cat usually weans her kittens by the time they are 7 weeks old although some may continue to suckle for comfort. Kittens who interact with littermates or nurturing cats will develop appropriate social skills. Ideally, kittens should remain in the group situation for 12 weeks or more.

It has been shown that kittens gently handled by humans for 15-40 minutes daily during the first 7 weeks of life develop larger brains.

By week 4, a kitten’s sense of smell and hearing are almost fully matured.

At 5 weeks old, kittens have better coordinated movements. Eyesight is mature. Kittens begin grooming themselves and others. Teeth start coming in.

Weeks 7 through 14, kittens learn by observing mama cat. Their motor skills improve and socialization continues through play. These weeks are a kitten’s most active play period.

By 3-6 months old, kittens begin to show whether they are dominant or submissive with playmates which can be other species as well as their littermates.

Months 6-18 are the adolescent period. Kittens will challenge humans and continue vying for dominance. At about 6-7 months kittens experience the beginnings of sexual behavior.

Kittens who are played with, petted and talked to early in life develop better social skills with their humans.

Kittens weaned too early or taken away from mama cat and littermates too soon, have a more difficult time learning life skills and socialization.

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