Kitten Growth Chart — Six-Week-Old Kittens

Sue at six weeks pauses in the midst of playing for a photo

A six-week-old kitten can do everything a cat does, but is still a baby. At this age the kittens are very playful. They play with their toys, with their mum, with each other, and with us non-stop, it seems! When they’re totally pooped, they sleep for a couple of hours then wake up and start again!

Playing with Mum at six weeks old -- Libby finally stops mothering them long enough to play with them a bit.

Playing with Mum at six weeks old — Libby finally stops mothering them long enough to play with them a bit.

Sue and Reed are little explorers

Sue and Reed are little explorers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At six weeks, a baby cat should be weaning off its mother’s milk and eating solid food regularly. A lot of people think it’s a good idea to rehome kittens at this age, but actually kittens should stay with their mum until they’re eight to nine weeks old. Their mum still has so much to teach them, about cleaning themselves, behaving properly (in cat terms), and love. Sometimes kittens who are removed from their family at a young age grow up with behaviour problems, such as pooping outside the box or playing too roughly.

Ben is so tired from all that playing he falls asleep anywhere!

Ben is so tired from all that playing he falls asleep anywhere!

Lance finds the kittens fascinating. The kittens think Lance might be fun to play with.

Lance finds the kittens fascinating. The kittens think Lance might be fun to play with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have a baby kitten of this age that you received from a friend, you should ask if your kitten can stay with his mum for a couple more weeks at least. If that’s not possible, you’ll have to be very attentive to make sure your kitten is eating, drinking, and pooping properly, and you’ll have to be very patient to take on the job of the mother and teach the kitten some of the finer arts of catting.

Libby stops play time to start bath time. "Mom! You're messing up my mane!"

Libby stops play time to start bath time. “Mom! You’re messing up my mane!”

Sue at six weeks pauses in the midst of playing for a photo

Sue at six weeks pauses in the midst of playing for a photo

Kitten Growth Chart — Four-Week-Old Kittens

Four-week-old kittens have fully developed senses of sight, smell, and hearing, but they are still very uncoordinated. Their teeth are starting to come in, so when you play with your four-week-old kittens, make sure you don’t play nibbling-on-the-human games, or they might become a habit (and poke tiny holes in your person!)

By the time our kittens reach four weeks, they are doing everything an adult cat does:

Good morning! Is it time for a kitteny day of doing stuff?

Good morning! Is it time for a kitteny day of doing stuff?

At four weeks old, Ben is learning the art of drinking water out of a bowl

At four weeks old, Ben demonstrates his newly discovered skill of drinking water out of a bowl.

Four-week-old kittens eating kitten kibble out of a saucer while their mom supervises. Don't be fooled: Libby tried her hardest to get at that delicious kitten kibble!

Four-week-old kittens can eat kitten kibble out of a saucer under the supervision of their mom. Don’t be fooled: Libby tried her hardest to get at that delicious kitten kibble!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kittens this age are excited to nom kitten kibble, but they still need their mommy’s milk to grow and thrive. If you are hand-rearing kittens, keep bottle feeding them for a couple more weeks to supplement the kitten kibble. Don’t give kittens adult cat food, cow milk or other dairy products, or bread or other carbohydrate-rich foods. Kittens can eat tinned food, but kitten kibble is probably best.

The kittens escaped from kitten play land while we were at work, and we searched everywhere for them. We were convinced they had been stolen until we found them safe and sound hiding behind the bed.

The kittens escaped from kitten play land while we were at work, and we searched everywhere for them. We were convinced they had been stolen until we found them safe and sound hiding behind the bed.

This is how the kittens escaped from kitten play land: clawed their way onto the bed, and then down via the laundry hamper. Johnny stops for a rest.

This is how the kittens escaped from kitten play land: clawed their way onto the bed, and then down via the laundry hamper. Johnny stops for a rest.

At three and a half weeks old, Sue is the first kitten to do a poopie in the litter.

At three and a half weeks old, Sue is the first kitten to do a poopie in the litter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If your kittens are starting to explore the house, you need to kitten-proof: make sure cables and cords are wrapped up and out of reach. Put plants on high shelves. Make sure garbage cans have tops that close. Kittens love to climb, so if your decorations might be dangers, you should consider putting them away until you have re-homed the kittens (or they stop scaling your shelving units like little fluffy mountaineers!)

 

 

Playing and having a kitteny time in kitty play land

Playing and having a kitteny time in kitty play land

Four weeks old and big enough to watch TV with the humans.

Four weeks old and big enough to watch TV with the humans.

Johnny at four weeks leaves the kitten play room to visit with Lance, whom she is still nervous of, though Lance seems to have taken no notice of the kitten

Though she’s big enough to hang out with the humans, she’s still quite nervous of Lance.  Lance, however, seems to have taken no notice of the kitten.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pooped out after a long day of kittening

Annnd… pooped out after a long day of kittening!

Although the kittens are exploring all the nuances of catting, they still need their mommy! She teaches them how to cat professionally.

For the next several weeks, you should spend as much time with your kittens as possible, and invite lots of people over to play with them. This is the age to socialize your kittens so they will grow up to be friendly pets. If you have other animals living in your house, they can be introduced to the kittens now. Also, tiny children and the elderly.

Kitten Growth Chart — Two-Week-Old Kittens

I thought they recognized me, but they all hissed at me!
When I went into the kittens' room on their two-week birthday, they all looked at me for the first time

When I went into the kittens’ room on their two-week birthday, they all looked at me for the first time

I thought they recognized me, but they all hissed at me!

I thought they recognized me, but they all hissed at me!

At two weeks, kittens’ eyes are fully open, but they have not got their adult pigment yet so will still appear blue or gray, and their vision is still not clear. They are also still sensitive to light, so no matter how cute your little fluffy-puffs are, please don’t use flash photography or shine bright lights towards them!

Their sense of hearing is still weak, but their sense of smell is starting to develop.

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Two-week-old kittens are more aware of their surroundings and are starting to interact with each other and with you. The more adventurous members of your litter might be trying to climb out of the box to go exploring. Mother cat won’t let them, as they’re still too little, so you can help her out by making sure the doorway is high enough that they can’t climb out.

Two-week-old kittens should be six to eight ounces and have fat tummies and clean faces. If you think your kittens are not growing well, or don’t seem healthy, take the whole family to the vet.  You might need to supplement Mum’s milk with some kitten formula via a kitten baby bottle.

Sue is the most intrepid at two weeks and keeps climbing over Mount Mum's Tummy.

Sue is the most intrepid at two weeks and keeps climbing over Mount Mum’s Tummy.

Kitten Growth Chart — One-Week-Old Kittens

Libby is so happy when we come into her room, she rolls onto her back so we can scritch her tummy. Poor kittens get rolled all over the place!
Ben was already establishing herself as the most cuddly and protested at being taken away from her mummy for the photo.

Ben was already establishing herself as the most cuddly and protested at being taken away from her mummy for the photo.

Johnny was the first to open her eyes.

Johnny was the first to open her eyes.

Sue was very alert already

Sue was very alert already

Reed's little mustache is starting to be more pronounced

Reed’s little mustache is starting to be more pronounced

In the first week, our kittens’ eyes started to open. Johnny was first; her left eye started to open when she was three days old. By one week they all had their eyes at least part way open.

But when kittens’ eyes first open, they are very sensitive to light. At this stage, it is important that you make sure there are no bright lights directed at the kittens’ faces. Also, the kittens still can’t see very well and rely on their sense of smell still to find their mummy and their favourite nipple at lunch time.

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The colour for all newborn eyes is gray or blue, because the melanin that gives them colour pigment hasn’t developed yet. You will find out what colour your kittens’ eyes are when they are six to eight weeks old.

During the first week, the kittens’ umbilical cords will begin to fall off. Remember not to pull them off as a kitten can easily get an umbilical hernia, which will require surgery to repair when she is older.

The mother is probably licking the babies a lot. She does this to keep them clean, of course, and to stimulate their digestive systems. The dedicated mother cat actually stimulates urination and defecation and eats what comes out. And your mom complained about changing your diaper! If you are hand-raising a kitten, you need to wipe him with a soft, absorbent towel every few hours to help him pee and poo.

The mother cat also cuddles the kittens and keeps them warm all day and all night. She probably only leaves the box to get food and water and to visit the litter. She will appreciate a lot of attention from you. If you are hand-rearing a kitten, you should keep her with you at all times, preferably holding her in your hands. There is no substitute for a mother’s love!

Be careful when handling your baby kittens, because their little claws are very sharp and they are not able to retract them yet. Also, make sure they are not getting their claws caught in their bedding. Some kinds of fabric are like velcro to kitten claws!

One-week-old kittens are double their birth weight. It’s incredible how fast they grow! By now they probably have fat little tummies, too.

Join us next week for an update on two-week-old kittens!

Libby is so happy when we come into her room, she rolls onto her back so we can scritch her tummy. Poor kittens get rolled all over the place!

Libby is so happy when we come into her room, she rolls onto her back so we can scritch her tummy. Poor kittens get rolled all over the place!

Kitten Growth Chart — Cat Pregnancy

Here's a sneak-peek at the newborn kittens in their kitten box, with Baker peeking in... plotting...

For the next nine weeks, follow along with Spot the Kitty as Libby’s kittens grow. Today we’re going to take a look at cat pregnancy. Join us again next week to learn about newborn kittens.

This is Libby a few days before she gave birth. It is difficult to tell from this angle, but her belly was all over the place!

This is Libby a few days before she gave birth. It is difficult to tell from this angle, but her belly was all over the place!

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Cat Pregnancy at Spot-the-Kitty HQ

Libby was a stray cat we picked up in Beijing, China. She was living in a boarding school grounds, and eating handouts from the children. There is a big holiday in the middle of winter in China, so we took her home for the holiday, hoping to find a new home for her when school came back into session.

A couple of weeks after her arrival, Libby started to show signs of pregnancy — her belly was getting wide, a symptom that cat breeders refer to as “burro belly”, and her nipples were a little pink and slightly swollen because her mammary glands were starting to get ready to produce milk.  That’s when we knew our house’s cat population was going to grow. From the point that Libby was starting to show her burro belly, we had five weeks to prepare for the arrival.

Symptoms

Along with burro-belly, other symptoms of kitty pregnancy can include changes in cat behavior — most cats eat more when they are pregnant, of course. They are eating for four or five! Also, some cats become more affectionate in the days before giving birth.

During the last few weeks of pregnancy, you should see your cat exhibiting nesting behavior: looking for a nice secluded, soft place to give birth. Libby walked into every cupboard and closet we opened, checking it out for possibilities.

Preparing for Delivery Day

You should provide a couple of different locations for her to consider. Offer her a large box with a doorway cut into it and an old towel or sweatshirt inside, and put it in an out-of-the-way place in your house. Of course, there is  no guarantee that she’ll give birth inside. You might also want to pregnant-cat-proof your house. Make sure there are no little cozy hidey-holes she could get into, like the bit that hangs down under the sofa or a crawl-space under the kitchen cupboards, and keep closets closed. It is also a good idea to keep the doors closed to any rooms you don’t want her giving birth in, like your bedroom or the furnace room.

Some people think it’s a good idea to give a pregnant cat milk, but that’s actually really bad for her. Cats can’t digest cow’s milk and it will give her diarrhea, which could lead to dehydration. If you want to enhance your pregnant cat’s nutrition, you can buy special mommy and baby cat food, or pregnant cat supplements. Some pregnant cats will appreciate some egg or some fish added to their diet, too. Some cats experience a bit of morning sickness right about the time they are starting to show. If you find that your cat is not eating or drinking, or has any other troubling symptoms, you should take her to the vet.

Cat Gestation and Pregnancy

Cats have a Y-shaped uterus, with fetuses growing on either side, which is what creates the burro shape. When female cats go into heat, they show obvious signs: your cat will become very vocal as she calls all the male cats in the neighbourhood to come visit, and you might see her crouching down with her butt-end up in the air, waving her tail. She might also leave her scent all around the house, so male cats will be able to sniff her out more easily, by rubbing her face, head, and sides up against everything, and scratching her claws more frequently. Since cats can go into heat and ovulate for about a week, it is quite possible for the kittens in one litter to have different fathers. Cat gestation is nine weeks, so if you know when your cat was mating, you will be able to work out when she will give birth. For more information on cat gestation and pregnancy, look at WebMD.

Join us next time to read about what to expect on delivery day and how you can help your pregnant cat have a comfortable and successful birth.