Kitten Growth & Development: First Year Milestones
Kittens grow into adulthood — fast. That's why it's important to gain an understanding of how they mature and what their nutritional needs are early on. Read below to learn about how kittens mature into cats.
Can you tell how big a kitten will get?
Unlike dogs that can vary in size from Chihuahuas to Great Danes, cats don’t have huge variations in size between breeds. Still, though, there is some variation. Some cats can be more than twice as big as others, depending on their genetics and other factors. An average adult cat weighs 10 pounds, but some petite cats can weigh closer to 5 or 6 pounds and other equally as healthy cats can tip the scales at over 25 pounds.
Get to know what’s normal for your unique pet. That way you’ll notice if your cat is gaining or losing weight.
SEE ALSO: Your Cat's Weight
How fast does a kitten grow?
Growing kittens under 6 months of age will weigh approximately their age in months. So, a 2-month-old kitten should weigh approximately 2 pounds, a 3-month-old kitten should average 3 pounds, and so on.
Don’t worry if your young kitten doesn’t follow this weight formula exactly, though. Each pet is unique. As long as your kitty has a clean bill of health from your veterinarian, your pet is on the right track.
A kitten’s weight at 6 months of age and older is more variable between individual cats, since they are starting to get closer to their adult size and may grow at different rates.
Tips for healthy kitten weight gain
Your kitten’s growth may be affected by many factors, including genetics, nutrition, parasites, illnesses, surgeries, and other variables.
So, how do you ensure your kitten is growing at a healthy rate? Try these tips.
- Feed your pet kitten food, not adult food, since kittens and adult cats have different nutritional needs.
- Use the feeding guidelines on your kitten food packaging as a starting point for how much to feed and adjust over time as your kitten grows (and adjust again as their growth slows down).
- Feed several small meals per day, rather than one big meal.
- Don’t add supplements or vitamins unless specifically instructed to do so by your vet. It’s possible to have “too much of a good thing,” and excesses of certain nutrients can cause health problems.
- Monitor your kitty. Their weight and body condition will be checked at each kitten visit, and you can always call your vet’s office with questions between appointments.
What if my kitten is losing weight?
It’s always best to err on the side of caution and talk to your vet — especially if an underweight kitten also has symptoms of illness.
Kittens are still growing, meaning their immune systems are not fully developed and they’re much more susceptible than adults to parasites, viruses, and other infections (this is why it's important to vaccinate your cat). Plus, they can become ill very quickly so it’s best to check with your vet ASAP.
Can kittens be overweight?
Yes, this is possible. Common causes include overfeeding, overindulgence in treats or table scraps, a sedentary lifestyle, or changes in weight after a spay or neuter surgery.
Being overweight as a youngster often translates to obesity in adulthood, and all of the associated health risks like arthritis, diabetes, or heart and lung conditions.
If you feel your kitten may be overweight, don’t restrict their food right away. Instead, talk to your vet about the best weight management plan for your fur baby, and schedule frequent weight check-ins.
Now that you know the basics of properly nurturing your kitten's growth, you can help your kitten grow into a happy, healthy cat.