Although kittens look fully-grown within months of being born, it takes about two years for them to grow both mentally and physically. Major changes occur in the first twelve weeks of birth. Thus, a lot of time should be spent with your kitten, as this is the time when it develops social skills. The transformation into a full-grown, beautiful cat from a tiny ball of fur occurs through various stages. These stages are described below.
The small, pink fur ball fits in your palm. Kittens are born blind and deaf, with eyes tightly shut and ears folded. They rely on their sense of smell to find the mother cat for nursing. The umbilical cord remains attached for three days. It is advisable to keep the kitten with the mother for up to five weeks. Early separation may cause aggression and decreased learning ability.
A Week Old
The kitten, when it is one-week-old, will make hissing sounds when it smells anything new, other than the mother's or the human scent, which it recognizes. It will squeak when hungry. This is the kitten's way to alert the mother cat about its needs.
Two Weeks Old
Short-haired kitten breeds open their eyes within 4-5 days of birth, whereas long haired breeds take 10-15 days. Until they are three weeks old, all kittens have blue eyes. Once the iris and pupil develop, the original color is formed. The folded ears of the kitten become erect. Even though its eyes are open and ears erect, it cannot see well and does not respond to sound. At this stage, the baby teeth appear, due to which the mother becomes reluctant to nurse.
Three Weeks Old
After three weeks, it tries to stand on its shaky, wriggly legs. The kitten's relatively large head as compared to the torso and stumpy legs, adds to its clumsiness. It still relies solely on its sense of smell. This is a good time to start training your kitten.
Four Weeks Old
By this time, the kitten will manage to overcome the obstacles in its path; but its eyesight will not be fully developed until it is two-months-old. It will start playing with its siblings. When it is four weeks old, the mother cat will start grooming the kitten.
Five Weeks Old
The mother starts the weaning process and the kitten will begin to eat food given in shallow pans. If you keep a careful watch on your five-week-old kitten, the signs of it growing into a predator will be visible. It will pounce and sulk, usually on a sibling. However, be careful while playing with it, as its claws and teeth can be very sharp.
Six Weeks Old
It is time for the kitten's first set of vaccination. It is important to have a deworming session during this time. Introduction of new toys will be a great booster for the kitten.
Seven Weeks Old
This is the right time to give your kitten a bath. After a nice wash, take your kitten to a dry and warm place. By this time, the weaning period will be over.
Eight Weeks Old
At this age, it will develop a sharp set of teeth. The mother cat teaches the kitten socializing skills. It learns that humans are friendly, bipedal animals too. Also, it is time for its second deworming session.
Nine Weeks Old
The kitten weighs about 3 pounds by the time it is nine weeks old. It will grow rapidly during this period. Its eye color will develop the original shade, unless, of course, it is an originally blue-eyed one.
Ten Weeks Old
It is time to give the little kitten a second bath. Clipping of nails and brushing sessions from this period onwards will get your kitten introduced to the habit of regular grooming sessions.
Eleven Weeks Old
Play is an essential part of the development of a kitten. During play time with siblings, kittens often tend to become aggressive. It is another aspect of the growing process. You may find the whiskers of your kitten missing. However, don't worry as kittens tend to chew on each others whiskers, and they soon grow back.
Twelve Weeks Old
This is the most active play period for the kitten. It continues learning more skills from the mother cat and its siblings. It also reaches sexual maturity during this period.
You need to shower a lot of love and affection on your kitten in its early stages of development. These loving animals are very intelligent and like human babies, they too have varied interests and personalities. You should take special precaution in matters related to its health. Having a kitten at home and watching it grow will be a very memorable experience indeed.