Kitten Growth and Development

Kitten growth and development is important for their strength and well-being. Kittens are tiny, fragile and highly susceptible to certain ailments. With proper care, nutrition and protection from harm, kittens will thrive into healthy and happy adult cats.

Newborn Kittens

Newly born kittens weigh only about 2 to 4 ounces. Kittens are born with no sight or hearing, and can only move a few inches at a time. They rely on the mother cat to provide warmth and nourishment. Unless the mother cat has health issues, her milk should be sufficient to supply all the nutrients necessary for the first several weeks. In 1 to 2 weeks, the kitten's eyes will begin to open, but it will still be almost completely blind and should be protected from bright light. All kittens are born with blue eyes. At around three weeks old, the eyes may begin to develop into permanent eye color, but this process can take up to one year to fully progress. At 3 weeks old, a kitten will begin to be able to hear, but will still rely mostly on sense of smell. Even tiny newborn kittens will hiss or spit at unfamiliar smells. Teeth will begin to grow at this time, and you may hear some purring.

Month Old Kittens

At around the 4 week stage of kitten growth, you may notice the kittens beginning to walk around. Coordination will be tricky, as their legs and tails haven't fully developed. Once they become more agile and playful, you may notice the mother cat beginning the weaning process. Once this occurs, it will be time to introduce kitten food and the litter box. Select a quality canned cat food, or mix dry kibble with water. Use non-toxic or natural litter as kittens are curious by nature and may try to eat it. Kittens should not be removed from their mother until 8 to 12 weeks of age.


Kittens are more susceptible than adult cats to viruses and infections. While kittens in a normal and healthy environment should not experience any problems, shelter kittens, orphans or kittens exposed to other infected cats are at high risk of serious problems. There are certain conditions and diseases that are easily contractible by kittens.

  • Injury - Kittens are tiny and weak and should be protected from high places, bright lights, cold weather, harmful chemicals and other animals.
  • Dehydration - To be sure your kitten is properly hydrated, you can grab the skin at the nape of the neck and gently pull and twist. Skin that pops back into place within seconds is healthy.
  • Runny Nose - Upper respiratory infection is dangerous for kittens. This is an extremely contagious condition, and most often results from one of two underlying illnesses; feline viral rhinotracheitis or feline calicivirus.
  • Parasites - Many types of parasites can infect your kitten and cause additional problems. If your kitten is experiencing diarrhea, weight loss or dehydration, one of several internal or external parasites may be to blame.
  • Eye infections - Also extremely contagious, eye infections will produce weeping, sticky discharge and possible inflammation. Conjunctivitis and other eye disorders may be a symptom of an underlying and more serious problem.