How to Tell How Old a Kitten is and Why It's Important to Know | Lola The Rescued Cat
Monday, July 19, 2021

How to Tell How Old a Kitten is and Why It's Important to Know


Welcome back to our Community Cat Awareness series. In this post, I discussed some helpful tips to use if you find a kitten. Today I’m going to talk about how you can tell how old the kitten is and why it’s important to know that. 




How to Tell How Old a Kitten is and Why It's Important to Know



Kitten Growth Milestones


Determining the age of a kitten can be a little tricky and takes some detective work and close observation. Below is a quick summary of some milestones of kitten growth that you can use. (Note: The weights listed are general weights for kittens who are healthy and nursing with their mother. They are not indicators for malnourished kittens.)


Newborn

Newborn kittens are born with their eyes closed, their ears folded and the umbilical cord attached. They are also toothless. As their senses start to develop they may begin to wiggle around a little bit. Newborn kittens spend about 90% of their time sleeping and 10% eating and rely totally on their mother. The average weight for newborns is 50 – 150 grams. 



One Week

By one week, the kittens' ears will start to unfold, and their eyes may start to open between days 8 – 10.  The umbilical cord will also have fallen off. They still cannot regulate their body temperatures, so they will be snuggling and cuddling together for warmth and comfort. They will never wander far from their mother or siblings, and they still spend most of their time sleeping. The average weight at this age is 150 – 250 grams.


Two Weeks

The kittens' eyes will now be fully open and will be a pretty baby blue, and their ears will be unfolded. As they become more aware of the world around them, they will begin to take wobbly steps and interact with their siblings. As their senses begin to develop, they may hiss at unfamiliar smells and sounds. They will still be huddling with their siblings and mother because they cannot yet regulate their body temperature. The average weight at this age is 250 – 350 grams. 


Chart courtesy Alley Cat Allies


Three Weeks

The kittens are now walking around (although still a little wobbly) and are starting to play. They will also be discovering the litterbox. Their incisors (the tiny teeth in the front of their mouth) will start to come through their gums. Their ears are fully upright, pointing upwards. The average weight at this age is 350 – 450 grams. 


Four Weeks

The kittens' teeth are continuing to develop, and you will see their canine teeth starting to come through. Their vision is improving and they are walking and running more confidently,  and are holding their tails up. At four weeks the kittens will slowly start to eat solid food. The average weight at this age is 350 – 450 grams. 


Chart courtesy Kitten Lady


Five Weeks

Premolar teeth are now emerging, their eyesight is fully developed, and their coordination is better. Five-week-old kittens are very playful and energetic, and their distinctive personalities start to develop. The kittens can now retract their claws. The average weight at this age is 550 – 650 grams. 

Six Weeks

All teeth have emerged at this point, and the kitten is eating confidently. They are now stable on their feet, using their tails to balance. Stalking, hiding, pouncing, and digging - instinctual behaviors in all cats - will start to be seen. The kittens can now groom themselves and each other and are probably strarting to use the litter box. The average weight for this age is 650 – 750 grams. 




Seven Weeks

At seven weeks old, the kittens are transitioning to their adult eye color. Kittens with grey, green, or yellow eyes are likely 7 weeks or older. The average weight for this age is 750 – 850 grams. 


Eight Weeks

Eight-week-old kittens will be eating independently and will have their permanent eye color. The kittens are now exploring their surroundings confidently and can jump. They are becoming more skilled and adventurous and will sleep and eat at regular intervals like adult cats. The average weight for this age is 850 – 950 grams. (Once the kitten weighs two pounds they are able to be spayed/neutered.)



Why is it Important to Know How Old a Kitten Is? 


Knowing the age of your kitten is important so you can be sure to provide them with age-appropriate care. Neonatal kittens are very vulnerable and require round-the-clock care, including feeding and elimination. They require a totally different strategy than older kittens. It is also important to know when the kitten will be able to be weaned and start to eat independently. 

Remember, the kitten’s best chance at survival is staying with their mother. But if you have determined that the mother is not returning, you will need to step in and provide age-appropriate care. 



Pin Us!


I hope this information was helpful. For additional and more in-depth information be sure to visit Kitten Lady or Alley Cat Allies Stay tuned for the next installment in this series where I will be debunking myths about feral cats. If you've missed any of our Community Cat Awareness posts, you can catch up on them here.

Have you ever found a kitten? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.


Dawn

Photo Credits: 
Okan Akdeniz via Getty Images
Benjamin Torode via Getty Images
Mckinsey Jordan via Getty Images

Sources: 
How Old Is That Kitten? Kitten Guide. Alley Cat Allies. (n.d.). https://www.alleycat.org/resources/how-old-is-that-kitten-guide/. 

How to Determine a Kitten's Age. Kitten Lady. (n.d.). http://www.kittenlady.org/age. 

Additional Posts in This Series: 

Would you like to comment?

  1. A 10 year old boy found a kitten on school grounds and found a box. Not knowing any better, he carried it around and showed it to the others, and took his time getting the last school bus he could, finally bringing it home. Poor cold and hungry baby. My son was fostering this boy, so it was to his home of course the boy and kitten came home. So he, my son, kept the baby in his room. The scramble to find milk and a bottle was legion. Took such a long time. My son was awake most of the night trying to feed the baby still having to go to teach the next morning. The day following,( since I was visiting him), we took the baby to a scheduled kitty showing at a pet food store. We were trying to find someone who could take the baby (turned out to be a girl) And one of the attending people there wanted her. She too was a teacher and would take the baby with her to class in order to feed her and give the children the experience of seeing how to rear a baby kitten. My son got to go see her in her new home once after the adoption. The baby was fat and beautiful and loved to death. Oh, she was sooooo loved. It was good for my and my son's hearts to see.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Our late Minx, a little black kitty, was found on a highway access ramp in 1988, at the age of about five weeks. She lived to be 17 years old.
    In 2019, a feral mom brought us five kittens. We still have them, and Mom has been spayed.

    ReplyDelete
  3. L & L.....thanx for sharin thiz post....

    when eye waz trapped everee one kept sayin...him iz feral...eye ree plied...eye noe....

    then everee one kept askin...dood...whatz yur age....and eye ree plied.....whatz an age... !!!

    ternz out eye waz seven weekz !!!

    mackerull boomer junior butter feeld ♥♥♥

    ReplyDelete
  4. That's really good and most useful too!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I regularly read The Kitten Lady's FB feed, and see all of her little nuggets of young kittens. Kittens are so very fragile, which is why TNR is the way to reduce the stray and feral cat populations.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great post, very intersting and very important information ! Purrs

    ReplyDelete
  7. You just don't know how useful this is to us over here at Catscue, thanks! I try to document birth dates and such, but life always messes up my intentions. Kudos for a great article, you need to enter this one in next year's CWA awards, if I were a judge, I'd vote for it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for this info! Never found a kitten before but this sit is useful info.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great post. I always wondered how old they were when their teeth came in. XO

    ReplyDelete
  10. Interesting post. We collected our boys at 5 1/2 weeks from the farm which I know under ideal conditions was too young, but it was unlikely they would live very long there. My biggest regret was not taking the third brother.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is great info! And really important to know - AND so few people do know.

    ReplyDelete
  12. That is such important stuff to know, especially during kitten season!

    ReplyDelete
  13. This is a great post and so useful. Mom had to learn all this when she was a foster for those hundreds of kittens, including me!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your comment! We love meowing with you!