Kittens are cute to look at as cuddly bundles of fur without question. But they usually do not stay too small for long. From birth to the age of seven months, a kitten develops into an adult cat. The development is thereby divided into individual phases.
The first week of life after birth
Shortly after birth, the kittens are blind and weak and their fur is also not yet properly developed. They would not survive during this time without the mother’s milk and the warmth of the mother cat, because shortly after birth the mother’s milk contains protective proteins and nutrients that are essential for survival and strengthen the immune system of the babies. This is why it is so important for kittens to start drinking from their mother shortly after birth. The body heat of the mother cat takes over the function of the still insufficiently developed fur and warms the kittens. After about a week, the umbilical cord falls off and the kittens open their eyes.
Second to eight weeks of life
Most of the time during this period the kittens use to sleep and suck. The mother cat takes over the fur care and keeps the kittens clean. In the second week of life, the kittens open their eyes. From the 3rd week of life the first milk teeth sprout. In total, a kitten’s baby teeth include 26 small milk teeth, which are mainly more pointed and smaller than the teeth of an adult cat.
The kittens become independent
At the age of four weeks, when the milk teeth are complete, kittens begin to eat independently and also control their own excretions. Thus, usually around the eighth week begins the third phase of cat development. Mother’s milk and soft food for kittens rank side by side during the first period, because the kitten’s digestive tract must gradually get used to the new food. The kittens now begin to explore the environment with their siblings and establish social contacts with people.
Second to sixth month of life
At the age of two months, the change of diet is completed. The kittens now eat only solid cat food, wet food and dry food. During this time, the preference develops, which cat food is eaten later as an adult cat preferred. Therefore, feed your cat during this time very varied. The nutritional and energy requirements of kittens are higher than those of adult cats because of their constant growth and a considerable growth spurt around the tenth week. Therefore, it makes sense to offer cat food specially tailored to them. The play of the cat siblings reaches a new peak and playing with cat toys develops. The kittens sleep in the much less than before and the sleeping rhythm becomes more and more similar to that of an adult cat. At an age of three to six months, the milk teeth of the kittens are replaced by the permanent cat dentition, because the cat enters puberty. It has a total of 30 teeth. By six months of age, kittens should be seen by a veterinarian for the first time so that important vaccinations can be given. Overall, cats are vaccinated twice at 3 to 4 week intervals.
The cat becomes an adult
Cats count as adults at seven months. From now on, female cats can become in heat and subsequently pregnant. For male cats, sexual maturity lasts until the eighth month. Now it is time to think about neutering/sterilization to prevent the cat population from increasing even further. Cat growth is now complete. This does not mean that the cat does not want to play anymore. Cats use the sequence of play throughout their lives. At three years of age, cats are considered full grown in terms of body measurements.
Once the first year of life is completed, cats become much calmer and also the first booster vaccination is now due. The next booster vaccination takes place when the cat is three years old. Between the ages of two and four, a cat reaches social maturity. Free-roaming cats defend their territory from now on. Domestic cats living in groups may compete for spaces or places. Healthy cats live to be about 15 to 19 years old. From the age of eight, the hair around the mouth becomes lighter as the first sign of aging. Cats have a high urge to move, which decreases with age and becomes more purposeful.
How big does a cat grow?
Domestic cats have completed their growth at one year. Particularly large cats and males can still grow up to the age of three. How big a cat will actually become, you can usually not say in advance. One must be surprised. The growth depends namely to a not insignificant part on the breed, the genes, the nutrition, socialization, stress and hereditary diseases. European shorthair cats become about 90 cm long. Cats of the Maine Coon breed can reach 120 cm in length from the head to the tip of the tail. The weight of domesticated domestic cats is 4 to 5 kg, and the length from head to rump is about 50 cm. Persian cats can weigh up to 8 kg. During the first eight weeks of life, kittens should gain 100 g per week. If the weight gain is below this, the causes should be investigated. Possibilities include insufficient breast milk, parasites, diarrhea, a decreased sucking reflex, or teething. Present the kitten to the veterinarian to get to the bottom of the cause of poor weight gain. From the ninth week of life, cats and males develop differently in terms of weight, so that males weigh up to 3100 grams at 19 weeks. Cats, however, weigh only up to 2700 grams in the same period.