Maine Coon kitten in black and white lying down in front of a growth curve illustration

Healthy growth lasts a lifetime

Losing weight is more difficult than preventing weight gain in the first place, so it's important that healthy habits and behaviours are set from day one.
Grey and white kitten lying down indoors

My kitten's development stages

In the first few weeks of your kitten's life, they will grow and change very quickly. At first, kittens are too small and weak to walk and, instead, will crawl on their tummies, relying on their sense of smell to find their mother to feed.

At around 8-12 weeks of age, the mother cat will wean her kittens and, once each kitten has had its first vaccinations, it will be old enough to go to a new home. At 12 months of age, your kitten is considered to be an adult cat but can continue growing until the age of 18 months.

Understanding how your kitten's normal shape and size will change as it matures through each development stage will help you be confident your kitten is progressing well. Keeping a regular eye on your kitten and checking for changes to their normal shape every couple of weeks will alert you to any periods of unhealthy weight gain so that you can take action.
Ginger and white cat sat indoors next to a silver bowl

A kitten's different needs at each stage

Until they're around 8 weeks old, kittens rely on their mother's milk for all their nutritional needs. Specially formulated kitten food can gradually be introduced from the age of 4 weeks. When they reach 8 to 12 weeks old, mothers will wean their kittens.

Up until the age of three to four months, kittens will have almost three times more energy than an adult cat due to their intense growth period. Food needs to be energy dense, rich in protein and highly digestible. They also need constant access to clean drinking water.

Between the ages of 4 and 12 months old, the growth rate slows but the activity levels increase significantly. Expending this amount of energy as they start running, jumping, playing and exploring means your kitten will need to eat the correct diet to reflect this, across several small meals a day. At around 12 months old, your kitten will mature into an adult cat and can move on to a diet especially formulated for their changing needs.


Two kittens standing indoors, one eating from a silver bowl

A healthy weight starts with healthy habits

If your kitten eats more calories than they need each day, they'll start to put on weight. Obesity in kittens can lead to a range of health problems in later life. To prevent such health risks for your young pet, it's vital that you introduce healthy habits into their daily life from the start.

It's better for your kitten to eat little and often, rather than eating two big meals, so try giving your kitten multiple small meals a day. To avoid overfeeding, always measure out your kitten's daily food portion and divide it up accordingly.

Kittens love to exercise and will thrive on short bursts of intense activity and play. Ensuring that these short bursts of playful activity happen regularly will help your pet to stay fit and healthy and, along with healthy portioning, prevent them from becoming overweight. By setting good habits for your pet around exercise and food portions as they grow up, you'll help your kitten to maintain a healthy weight into adulthood.
Kitten sat on weighing scales in a vet practice

Speak to your vet

As your kitten grows into an adult cat, it’s important to make sure that you’re aware of their changing needs at each developmental stage.

Speaking to your vet and asking any questions you have will help you to feel comfortable that your new kitten's needs are met as they grow. Pet kittens and cats should be registered with a veterinary practice. This means that you can take your animal to your vets for routine health care and advice, like worming and neutering, as well as any emergency treatment.

Veterinary advice and support are especially important when it comes to making any changes to your pet’s diet, or if you suspect that something may be affecting your kitten or cat’s health. Calling on a professional opinion will put your mind at ease from the start and help you to give your kitten the perfect start in life.
British Shorthair adult in black and white eating from a red bowl

Healthy portions are smaller than you think

Many pet owners think their cat needs more food than it really does. This means that many cats are overfed; not only can this cause weight gain, but may lead to other health issues.

British Shorthair adult in black and white with Body Conditioning Score illustration

Healthy weight isn't only measured on a scale

Weighing your cat is not the only way to check if they're overweight. You can find out if your cat's a healthy weight by asking your vet how to use the Body Conditioning Score.