Determining a Kitten's Age

Knowing a kitten's age is the first step to knowing how to care for them and what to anticipate.

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Remember that all kittens are different. Because each kitten will vary in health and size, physical traits such as weight or appearance are not always a precise indicator of age. Developmental traits such as the presence of teeth will be a more precise way to determine the kitten's age. For instance, an emaciated 4 week old may be the weight of a 2 week old, but will have her canine teeth. 

Developmental and Behavioral Milestones 

Newborn

  • Newborn kittens will have their eyes closed, their ears folded, and their umbilical cord attached. Their nose and paws may appear pink in color. At this age, they cannot hear or see; they can only navigate the world around them through scent and through seeking warmth and comfort. 
  • A newborn kitten will have a low temperature of 95-97 degrees, which will go up to 100 degrees over the course of the first week. During this time it is critical to provide a gentle heat source to keep the kitten warm and stable. The kitten's environment should be between 85 and 90 degrees at this time. 
  • Newborns do not have a gag reflex. For this reason, it is essential to feed very slowly and with extreme caution. 
  • At 0-1 days, the umbilical cord will be attached and wet.
  • At 1-5 days, the umbilical cord will be attached and dry. Around 4-5 days of age the kitten will naturally lose the umbilical cord. Never attempt to remove it manually; allow it to fall off on its own.
  • The first 48 hours of a kitten's life are a critical period for obtaining maternal antibodies through nursing. During the first two days, a nursing mother may pass immunity to her kitten through colostrum, which will help the kitten fight illness. If a kitten does not receive the colostrum, she will be immune compromised and more vulnerable to disease and infection. 
  • Average newborn kitten weight: 50-150 grams
  • Newborn kitten care schedule: orphan newborns should be fed every 2 hours, including overnight. You may choose to syringe feed at this age, or to bottle feed. Newborns will also need to be stimulated to go to the bathroom

One Week

  • One week old kittens will have closed eyes, but no umbilical cord.
  • Around 7 days, the ear canals will slowly begin to open. 
  • Around 8-12 days, the eyes will slowly begin to open. Never attempt to pry open a kitten's eyes; let them open naturally. All kittens will be born with baby blue eyes, which will change to their adult eye color as they age. 
  • By one week of age, the kitten should have doubled her birth weight. 
  • One week old kittens cannot regulate body temperature. During this time it is critical to provide a gentle heat source to keep the kitten warm and stable. The kitten's environment should be roughly 85 degrees at this time. 
  • Average one week old kitten weight: 150-250 grams
  • One week old kitten care schedule: orphans of this age should be bottle fed every 2-3 hours, including overnight. One week old kittens will also need to be stimulated to go to the bathroom

Two Weeks

  • At two weeks of age, kittens' eyes will be fully open and baby blue. Her vision will still be developing. 
  • The ear canals will be open and the ears will be small and rounded, like a baby bear cub. 
  • Two week old kittens will be wobbly on their feet and attempting to develop coordination and movement. 
  • Two week old kittens cannot regulate body temperature. During this time it is critical to provide a gentle heat source to keep the kitten warm and stable. The kitten's environment should be around 80 degrees at this time. 
  • At two weeks, it is safe to begin dewormer for the kitten. 
  • Average two week old kitten weight: 250-350 grams
  • Two week old kitten care schedule: orphans of this age should be bottle fed every 3-4 hours, including overnight. Two week old kittens will also need to be stimulated to go to the bathroom

Three Weeks

  • At three weeks of age, a kitten's first teeth will begin to emerge. The tiny teeth at the front of the mouth, called the incisors, will start to come through the gums. 
  • Three week old kittens will have ears that point upwards, like a miniature cat. 
  • At this age, kittens will be walking, exploring their surroundings, and even beginning to explore the litter box. 
  • Three week old kittens still require a heat source, but will be more active and may stray from it when not sleeping. The kitten's environment should be around 75 degrees at this time. 
  • Average three week old kitten weight: 350-450 grams
  • Three week old kitten care schedule: orphans of this age should be bottle fed every 4-5 hours, including overnight. Three week old kittens will be transitioning from being stimulated to go to the bathroom to learning how to use the litterbox

Four Weeks

  • At four weeks of age, a kitten's teeth will continue to develop. The long tooth next to the incisors, called the canine teeth, will start to come through the gums. 
  • Four week old kittens will be confidently exploring and developing more coordination that allows them to walk, run, and even begin to play. 
  • Continue providing a heat source for four week old kittens, although they will likely use it only when resting. The kitten's environment should stay comfortably warm and never colder than 70-75 degrees. 
  • Average three week old kitten weight: 350-450 grams
  • Four week old kitten care schedule: orphans of this age should be bottle fed every 5 hours, including overnight. Four week old kittens will generally be using the litter box.

Five Weeks

  • At five weeks of age, a kitten's teeth will continue to develop. The premolars will start to emerge, indicating that a kitten is ready to be introduced to weaning onto wet food. Weaning is a sensitive time in a kitten's life and should be handled with care; provide supplemental feeding and ensure that the kitten is maintaining a healthy weight and body condition.
  • Average five week old kitten weight: 550-650 grams
  • Five week old kitten care schedule: orphans of this age, if healthy, may be introduced to weaning. Kittens should receive this care every 5-6 hours. If weaned, food and water should be provided at all times.

Six Weeks

  • At six weeks of age, a kitten's teeth will reach their final stage of early development. The molars will start to emerge, and depending on the kitten's health and condition, she will be perfecting her weaning onto wet food. Weaning is a sensitive time in a kitten's life and should be handled with care; provide supplemental feeding and ensure that the kitten is maintaining a healthy weight and body condition.
  • Six weeks is a standard age for the kitten to receive her first FVRCP vaccine. 
  • Average six week old kitten weight: 650-750 grams
  • Six week old kitten care schedule: Kittens should receive ample wet food if weaned. Provide access to water and food at all times. 

Seven Weeks

  • At seven weeks, kittens will have all of their baby teeth. Most seven week old kittens will be fully weaned onto wet food. 
  • At this age, the adult eye color will begin to emerge. Kittens' eyes will change from baby blue to the eye color they will keep permanently. Kittens with grey, green, or yellow eyes are likely 7 weeks or older.
  • Average seven week old kitten weight: 750-850 grams
  • Seven week old kitten care schedule: Kittens should receive ample wet food if weaned. Provide access to water and food at all times. 

Eight Weeks

  • At eight weeks old, most kittens will be eating independently
  • Kittens of this age will have their permanent adult eye color. 
  • Kittens who are 8 weeks and 2 pounds are able to be spayed/neutered and adopted into loving forever homes. 
  • Average eight week old kitten weight: 850-950 grams
  • Eight week old kitten care schedule: Kittens should receive ample wet food. Provide access to water and food at all times.