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Sacred Birman kitten stood next to an adult Yorskhire Terrier in black and white.

When does my kitten become a cat?

Adult cat sitting outdoors in long grass.
During their early months, your kitten will grow and change very quickly—but how do you know when they've become a cat, and what can you do to help support their growth?

From the very first few days of their life, your kitten will be developing at a rapid pace. But when do they become a cat, rather than a kitten, and what are the steps they go through to get there?

The lifetime of a cat

A cat's lifetime is divided into six stages, from birth to 15 years or more. A kitten is defined as a cat under the age of six months. Between six months and two years, your cat is classified as "junior," and from three to six years as in their "prime."

In those initial months your kitten will be growing very quickly and being socialized by its mother and the rest of the litter. Weight gain is significant during this time; at around four or five months your kitten will be putting on 3.5 oz a week. They also begin to sleep less and play more.

The steps to your kitten becoming a cat

At one week, your kitten will have opened their eyes and be suckling on their mother. They'll also be gaining 0.35 oz to 1.05 oz of weight a day, so daily weighing is essential to keep an eye on their health. At two weeks, their milk teeth come through and they make their first attempts to stand.

After a month, your kitten will be actively playing—part of their socialization and very important as they grow into an adult cat—and you can begin to wean them onto nutritionally appropriate solid foods. Once two months have passed, they should finish weaning and be fully independent of their mother in gaining nutrition.

Kitten Siberian lying down indoors on a white blanket.

Between three to six months, your kitten will be growing and developing strong muscles, bones and social skills. They need an energy-dense food as they have three times the energy requirement of adult cats, but their milk teeth have yet to be replaced by adult teeth so it needs to be easy for them to eat—rehydrating kibble in hot water or milk works well. They'll be sleeping like an adult cat, for 13 to 16 hours each day. Some breeds of cats can show the abilities and signs of being able to reproduce from as young as four months, so be aware of this and talk with your vet about your options.

The final stages of your kitten becoming a cat

After six months, your kitten will have become a cat. In their "junior" stage they will be playful and fully socialized, although it's important to maintain good behavior through clear feeding patterns. After two years old, they are categorized as in their "prime," and this often is when they are at their most healthy with a glossy coat, a strong skeleton and muscles, and excellent hunting reflexes.

Understanding the process by which your kitten develops into an adult cat means you'll be able to give them the right support they need in their diet, behavior, and home life. If you have any concerns that your kitten isn't progressing in the right way, consult your vet.

  • Kitten
  • Neonatal
  • Sustained growth
  • Intense growth
  • Weaning

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