Hi guys! In this video, I’m going to talk all about the biological development of young kittens and how you can tell what age a kitten is. It’s important to be able to identify the age of the kitten because that’s going to tell you how to care for them. (to kitten) Are you adorable or what? Rosalita here is going to be our model for the next eight weeks to teach you all about aging kittens. Starting with… newborns! You’re twitching in your sleep. I can’t wait to watch you grow up! Newborn kittens will have their eyes closed and their ears folded. Their ears are gonna look really small and tight to their head, just like a little tiny teddy bear. At this age, they don’t have any teeth, so if you open the mouth and look inside, you’re going to see very pink gums. The nose, the mouth, and even the little toe beans might look very pink at this age. A truly newborn kitten will also have her umbilical cord. Here’s Rosalita’s umbilical cord. It’ll fall off on its own around four to five days old. So don’t try to pull it off or cut it off yourself, just leave it as it is. A newborn kitten like Rosalita here is the most vulnerable that you could possibly work with. These little ones can’t thermoregulate and need to be kept very warm. At this age, they also don’t have a gag reflex, so you need to be very, very careful while you’re feeding them. Newborn kittens will sleep for the majority of the day, waking up only to eat and go to the bathroom. They can’t walk around, but they might be able to wiggle a little bit to move towards or away from heat. They should be pretty alert when handled. They should be able to wiggle around, make sounds, meow, and let you know that they’re doing okay. You’re so wiggly! The average weight of a newborn kitten is between 75 grams and 150 grams. It’s important that you’re weighing them multiple times a day and making sure that they’re gaining weight. Their average temperature is 95 to 97 degrees at birth and because they can’t thermoregulate at this age, it’s critical to provide them with a heat source. Their environment should ideally be between 85 to 90 degrees at this time. A kitten this young should be with her mother, so do everything you can to keep her with her mom. If you can’t keep a kitten this young with her mom, then they need to be syringe fed with a kitten formula. You can watch all my videos about how to take care of neonates on my YouTube channel. Kittens who are orphaned and don’t have a mother will be more susceptible to disease, so be very careful about handling them. Keep them in a safe space and avoid any contact with other animals. A newborn kitten should be with her mom, but if she’s not with her mom, you need to make sure you’re syringe feeding her a kitten formula, that you’re providing bathroom support in the form of stimulating them to go potty, and that you’re keeping them warm and safe. Kittens who didn’t consume colostrum from their mom within the first day of life will be more susceptible to disease. The colostrum present in the mother’s milk provides passive immunity to the kitten in the form of antibodies, and if a newborn kitten doesn’t nurse on mom during the first day of life, that means they’re going to be even more immunocompromised. So keep these little ones safe. The care schedule for a kitten who is zero to one week old is every two hours. It might sound like a lot, but it’s important to do even overnight. So please care for these guys every two hours. After you care for them, they’ll just go to sleep. So this is our zero-week-old Rosalita, a newborn kitten. So how can you tell if the kitten is a newborn? If they have an umbilical cord, No teeth in their mouth, their eyes are closed, and their ears are very tiny, you can bet that that’s probably a newborn kitten. Rosalita is one week old. Her eyes are still closed, her ears are starting to slightly unfold, and you’ll notice she no longer has her umbilical cord. She just has a nice little belly button. A one week old kitten is still very small, but they’re much more sturdy. You can see her head has gotten a lot bigger, her belly is a lot bigger. This is a very healthy looking one-week-old. Kittens one to two weeks old will weigh between 150 to 250 grams. Their average temperature is 97 to 98 degrees, and it’s critical to provide them with a heat source. Their environment should ideally be around 85 degrees at this time. Their average amount per feeding is 6 to 10 milliliters, and they should eat kitten formula every two to three hours, including overnight. Something you’ll notice on these little guys is their claws are non retractable. So her claws are out at all times of this age. Rosalita’s eyes are still closed for now, but around 8 to 12 days, they’re gonna slowly start to peel open. One thing that I notice on seven-day-old kittens is they start to get a little bit more of an eye line. I can more clearly see where the eyelid is and where it’s going to peek open. By one week old, kittens will have almost doubled their birth weight if they’re doing well. So if you get a kitten whose eyes are closed but who has already lost their umbilical cord, you know that they’re probably between five and eight days old. One-week-olds are still largely uncoordinated and they still sleep for the majority of the day. You might just see that they’re a little more active, a little bit more squirmy, and they’re starting to try out some of those first walking behaviors. She still fits in the palm of my hand. But by this age, she’s made it through the very most vulnerable week of life. So good job, Miss Rosalita! Seven days old is when the ear canals will start to slowly open up. So if you look, you can actually start to slightly see inside of the ear. As that happens, you may find that they slowly start to respond to sounds a little bit more than they did before. At this age, they should be able to lift their head up, and they should be able to wiggle around using their limbs. We’ve got eyeballs! So here we have our two-week-old kitten. At two weeks old, kittens’ eyes will be open and they will be baby blue. Kittens this age will have enlarged pupils and their vision will be very poor. The ears will be upright but very small, like a baby bear cub. Peeking inside the mouth, we can see that she still has no teeth. The claws will still be non-retractable. Kittens start to open their eyes between 8 and 12 days of age, and it can look a little funny while they’re doing this. One eye might open more quickly than the other or it might only happen halfway one day. All kittens are born with blue eyes, and that’s not due to pigmentation, it’s due to a lack thereof. As the kittens get older, their true pigment will come through. But by 14 days of age, kittens will generally have their eyes nice and wide open. Two-week-old kittens are starting to spend a little more time awake and they might even try to take their very first steps, so they’ll be quite uncoordinated. They might wiggle around like a little worm, they might be able to take some steps forward, but these guys are not great at walking. They’ll start to exhibit signs of curiosity about the world around them, but they definitely are not interested in playing yet. Kittens two to three weeks old will weigh between 250 and 350 grams. Their average temperature is 98 to 99 degrees, and it’s still important to give them a heat source at this time. Their environment should ideally be around 80 degrees. Their average amount per feeding is 10 to 14 milliliters, and they should eat every three to four hours, including overnight. And at this age, kittens can receive their first dose of dewormer, which is typically repeated again after two weeks. A two-week-old kitten is still going to be nursing and she’s still going to need to be stimulated to go to the bathroom. But when they’re awake, they should be able to hold their head up, look around, and make crawling motions. [tiny mew]
You’re so vocal! Such a cute age! When I’m caring for an orphan, two weeks is when I make the switch from a syringe to a bottle. I find that most of the time, kittens do a lot better on a bottle around this age than they do when they’re younger. Rosalita here is a great bottle feeder now. You’re becoming a little more than a handful! They’ll also have what I call a triangle tail. It’s a very, very short little triangular tail, and while they’re walking, it will wiggle behind them like an antenna. Three weeks old! Miss Rosalita is now three weeks old! Three weeks is arguably the cutest kitten age ever. At three weeks old, Rosalita’s eyesight is rapidly improving and you can see more of the blue of her eyes. That’s because her eyes are maturing and her pupils are able to dilate according to the light, so she can actually focus better and start looking around a little bit more. Her vision isn’t quite perfect, but it’s definitely getting a lot better. Her ears, on the other hand, are fully mature at this age. Her hearing has completely improved and now she’s able to respond to sounds around her. She even wakes up when she hears her name called. Hello! All these improvements in hearing and vision make them a lot more interactive at three weeks old Ooh! Kittens three to four weeks old will weigh between 350 and 450 grams. Their average temperature is 99 to 100 degrees and it’s still important to give them a heat source. Their environment should be around 75 degrees. Their average amount per feeding is 14 to 18 milliliters, and they should eat from a bottle every four to five hours, including overnight. So this is the age where you start to really feel like you’re interacting with a small cat. Three-week-old kittens also have major improvements in their coordination. She can start to slowly walk around. She’s not gonna be prancing or running or playing at this age, but she will be able to put her feet underneath her body and transport herself where she needs to go. But at this age she’s going to be awake a lot more often. Three weeks old is where you might notice that they’re just kind of sitting there looking around, and they’re not necessarily asleep all the time in between meals. Sometimes I’ll visit her and she’s just staring off into the distance, or rolling around on her back being adorable! If you’ve got a kitten who you think might be three weeks old, a great way to know is to look inside the mouth. Three weeks is when those first teeth start to come in, so if you look inside the mouth, you might see those tiny teeth at the front of the mouth. Those are called the incisors. Don’t be fooled by those first teeth. The incisors are not designed for eating meat, they’re designed for grooming. That’s why at three weeks old, you might see a kitten start engaging in her first grooming behaviors. Belly belly belly belly belly belly! Three weeks is a great age to teach these kittens to start grooming themselves and I like to use a toothbrush to teach them how to do that. If you’ve been caring for an orphaned kitten that’s younger than three weeks, you’ll definitely have been stimulating her to go to the bathroom, and at three weeks old, you do want to keep doing that. Rosalita here does still go to the bathroom by being stimulated with a soft tissue or a baby wipe. Kittens three weeks and younger will absolutely be getting either licked by their mama or will need you to do the work of stimulating them to go to the bathroom. Good job, Rosalita! You went pee! You went potty in the class. Good job! But three weeks old is when you might start noticing them going to the bathroom on their own. Maybe they have a little accident in their blanket or you see that they are starting to go poop on their own in their bed. Three weeks old is a great age to at least be putting a shallow litter box in there for them, even if they aren’t going to use it. A lot of kittens will get curious about the litter box between three weeks and four weeks old. You can watch my litter box video to learn how to help them make that transition, while still providing them stimulation at every meal, of course. Three-week-old kittens should still be either nursing or on a bottle. There are some people who will try to wean a kitten at this age, but I highly discourage that. That can be very dangerous or even deadly for these kittens, so definitely watch my video about weaning age to learn why you should not wean this young. Good job, Rosalita. I can’t wait to see you get bigger! What a fun age you are. And here we have Rosalita at four weeks old! At four weeks old, a kitten’s vision and hearing is rapidly improving. The eyes will appear much more blue as the pupils focus on the items around them and you’ll notice that when you look at them, they’re looking right back at you. If you look in the mouth, you’ll see that the canines have started to come through. (to kitten) Yeah. You got canines! The canines are gonna look like a tiny fang right next to their incisors. Don’t forget: just because they have their incisors and their canines doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily ready to eat meat. Four-week-old kittens will generally still be nursing on their mom or on a bottle, but they are rapidly approaching weaning age. Four-week-old kittens begin confidently exploring their surroundings and developing much more coordination. They can walk very confidently and explore at a faster pace. At this age, kittens are notably more responsive than earlier weeks. They really start to look around and respond to the sights and sounds in their environment. Four-week-old kittens can engage in social behaviors with littermates and they can learn from visual cues from other kittens. At this age, a lot of kittens will be using the litter box, but some of them will still need to be stimulated either by mom or through a tissue. Because of their improved coordination, I think that four weeks is the perfect age to start introducing kittens to play. Sure they won’t be able to pounce and jump as confidently as an adult cat, but this is a good time for them to start some of those early playing behaviors. Kittens four to five weeks old will weigh between 450 and 550 grams. Their average temperature is around 99 to 101 degrees. At this age they don’t rely on a heat source anymore, as long as the room is 70 to 75 degrees. But I still like to provide them with one as an option. Their average amount for feeding is 12 to 22 milliliters per meal, and they should be bottle fed every five to six hours, including overnight. Rosalita is 5 weeks old! Oh my God, you’re so fat. At five weeks old they’re really becoming a tiny cat. Their social skills are developing, they are interacting much more with humans and other animals, they can walk confidently and even start to sprint around. Five-week-old kittens will be playful and they’ll be practicing taking down prey. At this age kittens enjoy hunting their toys and biting them. Five-week-old kittens will still have those baby-blue eyes, but their vision will be very much improved. Their eyes can dilate to light and they can focus on the objects around them. At this age kittens are honing their hunting skills, and they’re perfecting their use of the litter box. They don’t need to be stimulated to go to the bathroom anymore and they can go totally independently. Probably the most exciting development about the five-week-old kitten is that this is the age where they start to wean on to meat. If you look inside the mouth of a five-week-old kitten you’ll see those characteristic canines, the tiny incisors at the front, and you can see that she has her premolars in the back. Those teeth are designed for cutting and shredding meat, so she is ready to start eating little bits of meat on her own. Five-week-old kittens are honing their grooming skills and their potty skills. After a meal, these guys are really good at grooming themselves. And by this age, they should be using the litter box with ease. [meow] Excuse me? [meow] Yeah, I know! You can use the litter box really well! Kittens five to six weeks old will weigh between 550 and 650 grams. Their temperature should be around 100 to 101 degrees. At this age they should be fed every six hours, including overnight, but they should be supplemented with a bottle afterward until they are eating wet food with confidence. They can also be introduced to a shallow bowl of water at this time. While it’s important to weigh kittens at every age, it’s especially important to monitor weight while the kitten is weaning to ensure that they’re making steady gains. A five-week-old kitten is no longer a handful. They’re two handfuls! You’re getting so big! And here we have Rosalita at six weeks old! At six weeks old, Rosalita’s baby teeth are fully descended. The vision and hearing of a six-week-old kitten are fully developed. At the beginning of their sixth week, kittens’ eyes will still be blue. But you’ll notice that between six and seven weeks, they’ll start to transition into their adult eye color. Rosalita’s eyes are a little bit less blue and a little more green every day this week. Between six and seven weeks the melanin production in the eye increases and brings forth the adult eye color. Kittens six to seven weeks old will weigh between 650 and 750 grams. Their average temperature is 100 to 101 degrees, and they can thermoregulate well. At this age kittens should be fed every six hours. Though generally, they are able to successfully eat wet food independently and can therefore handle being left for eight hours overnight while you get some sleep. Kittens this age can independently eat, drink, and use the litter box. At this age kittens generally received their first FVRCP vaccine, which is repeated again in two to four weeks. The most important thing to know about this age is to be playing with them constantly to encourage their natural hunting behavior like pouncing and biting. Rosalita is seven weeks old! At seven weeks, kittens will be fully transitioning to their adult eye color. Rosalita was born with baby blues, but you can see that now she’s going to have beautiful green eyes. Seven-week-old kittens are playful and inquisitive, and they can climb! And if the seven-week-old kitten is male, that’s around the time that their testicles will start to descend. There they are. Kittens seven to eight weeks old will be between 750 and 850 grams. Their temperature will be 100 to 101 degrees, and they can thermoregulate well. At this age, they should be eating a meal every six to eight hours and have ample access to water. At this age, kittens are really honing their micro-panther skills, so be sure to give them lots of access to enrichment and toys. Playing is essential. To teach them to appropriately target their prey and not attack humans, never play with kittens using your hands. Only play with toys. Woo-hoooo! Rosalita is eight weeks old! Eight weeks is by far the most exciting milestone of all because this is when kittens are ready to go to their forever home! Eight-week-old kittens will weigh right around two pounds. Their temperature will be 102 101 degrees and they can thermo regulate well. They can be fed wet kitten food three times a day. At this age kittens can be spayed or neutered, FIV and leukemia tested, microchipped, and prepared for adoption into a forever home. As you can see, these little guys go through so many changes in the first eight weeks of life. But it all comes down to this: getting them to adoption age. You did it, Rosalita! Good job! So that’s it. That’s a look at the first eight weeks of a kitten’s life. I hope this helps you determine your kitten’s age and needs. Of course, note that these milestones are not going to be the same for every single kitten. For example, Ray is six weeks old but only weighs 450 grams because he’s a little guy. And Rosalita here ended up showing an entirely different timeline for her developmental milestones because it turns out that she’s visually impaired. It just goes to show that while there are some standard milestones to look for, every kitten is ultimately going to be different. So I hope you can use this video as a guide that at the end of the day, we have to meet every kitten exactly where they are. Thanks for letting us follow your journey, Rosalita! You were a great little teacher! Mmmmmwah!