Kittens are next best thing after cats. A little kitty is born with eyes closed and yearn for milk from its mother. Then its eyes and ears started to open, teeth also grown, and then weans from nursing to eating solid kitten food. Cat lifespan is very short from human. Hence, there will be a lot of changes that happen in just the first couple of months of a kitten’s life. But the next few months are also full of changes and new experiences for a growing kitten. Be prepared to meet surprising changes over few months.
Newborn to Neonatal (0 to 3 weeks)
Once kittens are birth, they should be guided to suckle either from the mother or from bottles (if there is no mother). The mother passes important nutrients to the litter which supports their healthy development. The litter should naturally crawl towards their mother and start to suckle.
Noted that at birth, the newborn kittens will have risks. They may suffer a lack of oxygen for varying durations due to abruption of the placenta and they come into immediate contact with surrounding bacteria and viruses having left the uterus. If you are a breeder, you have to take some health measurement for the litters. Such as, hygiene precautions, birthing pen is clean and monitor the birth of the kittens.
When the litter reach between 1st to 3th weeks, they may begin to drink water. Hence, a shallow bowl should be kept nearby where they sleep.
A kitten is already able to navigate their surroundings, relying on scent and touch even though it is born with its ears and eyes closed. They are able to keep warm by nestling with their mother, and gain nourishment by suckling. Kittens should be kept with their mothers all the time to keep them warm, clean and fully fed. Their pen should be around 22°C to reduce the risk of hypothermia, and ideally needs to have 65-70% humidity.
When reach 1st to 3th weeks, kittens sleep for large parts of the day – around 90% of their time in the first few weeks. Movement is limited to crawling towards their mother for warmth and milk.
In the first days, the weight increases daily. Males are often heavier and grow faster. Kittens are born blind and deaf. They will find their mother for shelter and nutrition relying on scent and touch. At around 5 days old, the kittens will begin to open their eyes. Their umbilical cord will drop off around 1 week after birth. They also begin to gain more weight everyday.
Weaning (4 to 8 weeks)
The weaning process begin when kitten’s milk teeth developed. After a while the kittens will begin to show an interest in their mother’s solid food and they can begin to transition from a milk–only diet. Their immature digestive system means that it’s important they get easily digestible food that meets the specific nutritional needs of this stage.
At this time, the kitten need a warm, comfortable and quiet place to sleep. Sleep helps to strengthen their immune system since the antibodies provided by the mother cannot guarantee the kitten is protected. The kitten cannot be vaccinated due to being too young.
Kittens start to interact more with their brothers and sisters. First thing you will see are they begin mutual grooming. They will start to actively play, exhibiting running, pouncing and stalking behaviors. At this stage their sight is fully mature.
By the 4th week, smell is fully mature and hearing is well-developed. By the 6th and 7th weeks they begin to develop adult sleeping patterns and motor abilities. Key social skills develop through interaction with litter-mates, and learning is achieved through observation of their mother’s behavior.
It is important to ’kitten-proof’ your house. Make sure they have access to toys and other stimulation as they become more mobile and adventurous. The best way for them to become an adult cat is by having regular handling and interaction with you and your family.
Intense Growth (2 to 4 Month)
Your kitten can be vaccinated at this ideal age. This is an important process in ensuring each kitten has the right protection for their adult life. Be careful when feeding them as some nutrients still can’t be digested. Ensure that the kitten has food tailored to their developmental stage. This makes sure that they get the nutrients and energy they need during this vitally important developmental phase.
Kitten’s behavior is mostly influenced by litter mates, other pets and also you, hoomans. They may form dominant and submissive behaviors depending on their experiences. You should give them more attention at this stage, they may become more affection when know they are loved.
Effective socialization at this stage is key to raising a well behaved and happy cat. Play, cuddle or pet is the best way to offer support and affection.
Kittens can now moved away from their mother and introduced to new homes at around 2 months. They will have their own adventure around your house. Make sure electrical wires and sockets covered, windows, balconies and stairs secured.
Sustained Growth (6 Months old)
Now the kittens have become cats. They begin to scent mark through spraying and rubbing the glands on their cheeks against objects, other animals and humans. Neutering should be considered since this is a sign of puberty for cats.
As the cats have reach physical maturity and gets close to its full adult weight, it will need to eat adult food and adult portions. The nutritional balance will be dependent on their size and metabolic factors such as whether they are allowed outdoors and whether they’ve been neutered. Cat food manufacturer such as Royal Canin will have a selection for you to choose such as Royal Canin or Royal Canin Outdoor
As the cat begins to approach physical maturity, it will increased its exploration of dominance within your house or ‘its kingdom’.
Your cat will develop 30 adult teeth. If it hasn’t been neutered, sexual maturity is reached at 6 months, and sexual cycles and mating behaviors begin. Cat will reach adulthood after 6 more months.
Your cat may want to venture the outside world. Male cats tend to explore more from your yard to your neighbor’s house while female cats stay closer to home. It is best to stay with them when they are outside for their safety.
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