6–12 Weeks of Kitten Development

Kitten playing with feather toy

Kittens go through a number of changes shortly after birth. They are practically ready to leave their moms by the time they reach six weeks of age. But it doesn't mean you can't keep developing, evolving, and learning. Between the ages of six and twelve weeks, a kitten must complete numerous significant milestones.

Physical Development

  • At six weeks of age, a will begin to erupt. Throughout the next couple of weeks, all of the baby teeth should break through the gums and the mother cat may be reluctant to nurse because of this. At 12 weeks of age, these baby teeth will then start to fall out.
  • A kitten's eyes and ears have opened several weeks ago, but at six weeks of age, the eyes will still be blue. Hearing and vision are fully developed, and over the next couple of weeks, the eye color will slowly change to be the final adult eye color.
  • Until about six weeks of age, a kitten will need supplemental heat to stay warm. Once it is about a month and a half old it will no longer need a heating pad, heat light, or another heat source that it was relying on. As long as the kitten is in a room temperature environment, it will be perfectly fine since it will be able to self-regulate its body temperature.
  • If you have a male kitten, its testicles will drop and be palpable at about seven to eight weeks of age.

Behavior Changes

A kitten is highly active and sociable between the ages of six and twelve weeks. It won't sleep as much as a newborn did, but it will still slumber for more than half of the day. A kitten will begin to play with its littermates, investigate its environment, and develop a personality. This period is critical for the development of your kitten's social abilities. A kitten may struggle as an adult if it does not get the opportunity to learn right from wrong via play and from its mother and littermates. Kittens who have not been properly socialized may develop social problems or even aggressive difficulties.

Health and Care

  • At about eight weeks of age, a kitten should get a check-up with a veterinarian and receive its first . The FVRCP vaccine contains three different vaccinations in one. FVRCP stands for feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia. These are major diseases that cats of any age can contract. This vaccine will need to be repeated or supplemented with a booster vaccine three to four weeks later at about 12 weeks of age and once more at about 16 weeks of age.
  • Some veterinarians will spay or neuter a kitten between the ages of eight and 12 weeks old while others will have a minimum weight requirement or recommend the kitten be closer to six months old before it receives this surgery. This procedure should be discussed with your veterinarian and a preoperative blood screening is often recommended to ensure your kitten is healthy enough for anesthesia. This blood screening will also establish a baseline for future blood screenings as your kitten ages, so you will have something to compare it to.
  • Heartworm and flea treatments should also be discussed with your veterinarian. Not all products are safe for young or small kittens, but these parasites can be deadly to a cat, especially a small kitten. If you see fleas on your kitten you can bathe it with dish soap, but you should avoid flea shampoos, collars, or sprays. Also, never use products made for dogs on kittens or cats.

Food and Nutrition

A six-week-old kitten should be in the process of weaning off of its mother. To make a gruel, combine high-quality canned kitten food with water until the cat can consume the canned food without the water. Once the kitten is comfortable eating canned food and has all of its baby teeth, it will progress to dry kitten kibble. A kitten should be weaned from its mother at the age of eight to ten weeks. At this age, there is no need to restrict the amount of food a kitten consumes.

Training Kittens

  • will come naturally to a kitten if they see their mother or littermates using a litter box. Covering their waste after urinating or defecating is something cats instinctively do.
  • Teaching your kitten its name can be done once it is about eight weeks old through repetition and reward. Verbal praise, petting, toys, and treats are all forms of rewards that your kitten will respond to.