Owning a cat is a wonderful privilege, and you can rest assured that they will provide your home and family with humor, love, and a lot of hairballs. These pets are majestic at any age, but there is something very special about raising your furry friend from kittenhood and having the honor of watching them grow and develop from tiny, uncoordinated balls of fluff to the kings and queens of the jungle they will become.
Cat development varies from pet to pet, but there are a few key milestones you can watch out for. Most cats will have reached their full size at around 12-18 months old, though some owners have reported growth right up until the age of 4. After the 12 month mark, growth will slow down significantly, and it may be hard to tell that they have added an extra few inches to their size.
Monthly weighing and measurement is often the only way to be sure; measure from the ground to the top of the shoulder to check the height, and weigh your cat at 16 weeks old. Doubling this number will give you a very broad estimate of your cats total adult weight, and can also help you to establish when they have finished growing.
There are four main stages of development your cat will go through:
- Birth – 7 weeks
- 7-12 weeks
- 3-6 months
- 6-12 months
Birth – 7 Weeks
These initial weeks are the most important in your kitten’s whole life. They have the foundations of their personality laid, and will be slowly weaned off their mother’s milk and onto solid food. They will also undergo their fastest growth during this period, and you can expect them to change daily.
During this period, you will be able to bring your kitty home. A good breeder will only allow this to happen at around 7 or 8 weeks, and they then become your responsibility. To help your kitten become friendly and socialized, lots of playing and interaction is required, and your cat will be going through a lot of essential tasks, such as play fighting, running from one end of the house to the other, hide and seek, and hanging off the curtains.
At around eight weeks, your kitten will also need their first set of vaccinations, with the next set around four weeks later.
These are your kittens’ teen years,’ and you can expect them to grow and mature. They will start to lose their baby teeth, and become moody and grumpy as their teen hormones kick in. This is when they will try and find their place in the social hierarchy, challenging the alpha cat and throwing spectacular tantrums whenever possible. Now is also a good time to get them spayed or neutered.
Once a kitten is twelve months old, they will have most of the traits they will carry them into adulthood. They should be on solid adult food, confident with the litter box, and reaching the end of their growth. Your tiny, fluffy baby is all grown up!