Kitten care

Kittenhood is a stage of great physical and behavioral change for your cat. Caring for kittens isn’t always easy, but with nutrition tailored to their specific developmental needs, you can help them grow from fragile young kittens to strong, healthy cats. Our guide to kitten care has everything to get you started.

Sacred Birman kitten black and white

Kittenhood - An amazing transformation

During the first months of life your kitten will go through an amazing transformation. ROYAL CANIN® Kitten formulas offers nutrition tailored to their unique needs at this vital time.

1. A sense of sight

It takes up to four weeks for a kitten’s sight and connected behavior (spatial perception) to be fully developed.

2. Immunity and defense

In their first six months your kitten's immature immune system must help protect them from millions of germs.

3. Tripling their weight

At birth most kittens weigh around 100 grams. Within a week they will double that weight, and triple it within 21 days.

4. Healthy bones

In the first year of life your kitten's bones must grow to become four times stronger than concrete.

5. Extraordinary growth

In the first six months of life a kitten will grow as much as a 10 year old adult child.

Tailored kitten nutrition

ROYAL CANIN® Kitten dry and wet formulas are tailor-made with the optimal vitamins and minerals to support a kitten's healthy development throughout their entire growth period: the first 12 months of life.

Kitten care guide

Kittenhood is a very rewarding time for pet owners, but it's also a time of huge challenges and steep learning curves, for you and your pet. Our kitten guide was created with help from Royal Canin veterinarians, nutritionists, and partners worldwide, to help you and your kitten have a healthy start in life together.

Preparing for a kitten

When you bring your kitten home for the first time, it's a huge change for both of you. You can make the process much easier by making a few simple preparations ahead of the big day.

  • Get all the kitten essentials
  • Kitten-proof your home and yard
  • Find a local veterinarian for advice and treatment
  • Choose a nutritionally complete kitten food - follow advice from your breeder, shelter, or veterinarian
  • Make sure everyone in the home is prepared
Preparing for your new kitten
British Shorthair kitten black and white
Sacred Birman kitten standing on a bed next to a grey and white blanket

Bringing home your kitten

Those first days and weeks after bringing your new kitten home can be exciting, but also challenging. By having the right tools and kitten care knowledge, you can make sure that this first experience with your new arrival is a positive one for them and you.

Bringing your kitten home

Feeding your kitten

A kitten's diet plays a key role in their physical and social development. The right balance of nutrients in their food will help aid development and lay the foundations for a healthy life.

Feeding your kitten

Sacred Birman kitten black and white eating

Kitten growth stages

Understanding the growth stages your kitten goes through will help you recognize the challenges they face, and how to approach kitten care. Ensuring they get the right balance of nutrients in their food is key for healthy development into adult life.

Sacred Birman neonatal kittens black and white

Birth - 3 weeks

Neonatal phase

When kittens are born they can barely move or hear, and their eyes are completely closed. On average, they open their eyes between 7-10 days. Your kitten will gain weight every day during this period and you should weigh them daily to monitor their growth. During these first few weeks, their teeth will start to emerge and by the end of the period, they'll be running and jumping around your home.

Sacred Birman kitten black and white

8 weeks - 4 months

Socialization phase

By this time, your kitten's sense of smell and hearing is well-developed. Kittens begin to develop their sleeping patterns, motor abilities, and social interaction. Key social skills develop through interaction with litter-mates, and their mother. Your kitten will undergo a period of intense growth during this phase.

At this stage, kittens also begin to understand their position within the household and may start to form a number of social behaviors depending on their experiences and training.

Sacred Birman kitten standing in black and white on a white background

4 months - 12 months

Juvenile & adolescent phase

Your kitten will go through a period of sustained growth. Most kittens will ultimately reach adulthood at 12 months of age, although some breeds, like the Maine Coon, take up to 15 months.

This phase of growth sees your kitten begin puberty and other signs of physical maturity. They gain confidence and explore their place in the household and outside environments (around six months old after they've had all of their vaccinations). While their behaviors are changing, it's important that you maintain consistency.

Kitten lying down on a wooden floor playing with a toy

Kitten socialization and play

Socialization should start as early as possible, to avoid any unwanted behaviors and help them develop into confident, even-tempered adult cats. Find out how you can socialize your kitten.

Socializing your kitten

Kitten training

It's important to train your kitten to adopt the right behavior from an early age and learn the rules of sharing a home with other people and animals.

Training your kitten
Maine coon kitten black and white
British Shorthair kitten black and white

The basics of kitten grooming

Ensuring your kitten is used to being handled from a young age will make grooming easier for the rest of their life. Each cat breed has unique grooming needs, and understanding that is key to maintaining your cat's healthy skin and coat.

How to groom a kitten

Understanding your kitten's health

When caring for kittens, it’s important to understand your kitten's routines and behavior, so you can quickly recognize the signs if something isn't right. It's also important to understand a few key milestones, such as the timing of vaccinations.

Kitten health

White kitten sitting on a table being examined by a vet
British Shorthair kitten in black and white on a white background

Your kitten's behavior

Kittens communicate with you in a number of ways. Reading body language and expressive behaviors and listening to the sounds when caring for kittens can tell you a lot about how they're feeling and what they need from you.

Kitten behavior