Kitten Behavior from Week to Week: What to Expect What to Expect as Your Kitten Grows

Two Kittens Playing

Who doesn't love a kitten? With all of that cuteness comes a whole bunch of fun and excitement. Learn all about your new kitten and the type of behaviors to expect as they mature.

Kittens. Ah, such furry little bundles of excitement and wonder. “Wonder,” as in you’re actually pretty curious as to what all their little quirks and mischievous mannerisms really mean in relation to their social development. Here’s what to expect week-to-week and month-to-month when it comes to kitten behavior.

Kitten Behavior from Birth to Two Weeks

  • Sights and Sounds: Within the first week, your kitten’s ears will perk, for this is the first time they are acknowledging and adjusting to sounds. By the second week their eyes begin to open slowly, taking in the sights.
  • Meowing: Low-pitched? Someone’s unhappy or uncomfortable. High-pitched? Well, now someone’s happy and most likely wants your attention.
  • Suckling: Suckling typically occurs if a kitten is weaned too soon, before six to seven weeks. This habit can actually stick with the kitten resulting in suckling on toys, blankets, and even your hands and arms when your feline becomes a full-grown cat.
  • Competition: If your kitten is still part of the litter, which hopefully is the case since they should be together for at least 12 weeks to develop basic social skills, they will search out their own territory. Social skills commonly learned during this time include inquisitive play, acceptable mouthing pressure, and who’s in charge/ranking of the feline pack. If your kitten is separated from the litter too soon, aggression not only toward other kittens, but also humans, can occur.  

From Two to Seven Weeks

  • Sniffs: Your kitten is about to get a little nosey. At the second week, sense of smell kicks in, becoming fully developed by the fourth week, which is also when hearing has finished developing. It isn’t until the fifth week that sight is finished developing.
  • Teething: At the fourth week, your kitten’s first tooth or two will start coming through. You may hear more of those low meows and catch them nipping at your hands or other objects.
  • Walking: Someone can’t wait to walk, but first they have to master their balance, a process that starts at the fourth week. Over the next week, you’ll catch your kitten walking and possibly even pouncing and running.
  • Grooming: Around the sixth week your kitten will start to groom him or herself, and others.
  • Rubbing: If your kitten is starting to rub up against you, it’s a sign they’re comfortable in your company and desire returned affection. According to the Humane Society of The United States, kittens who are handled for an average of 30 minutes a day are more likely to develop larger brains, becoming better learners.
  • Purring: While purring typically signifies affection and happiness, it can also, on occasion, signify discontent. If your kitten is not feeling well or is anxious, they may purr to calm down.  
  • Sound Sleeping: Between the sixth and seventh weeks your kitten will begin to develop adult sleeping patterns, often sleeping for longer periods and more soundly.

Eight to Fourteen weeks

  • Increased Play with Others: You’ll notice your kitten starting to hug, ambush, and lick other kittens, as well as you. When your kitten rolls over into a belly-up position, it means they have gained trust in their playmate or that they want more attention. If they start hissing, growling, and puffing up during playtime this means they’re frightened and trying to protect themselves. You’ll also notice their ears go back, flat against the head.
  • Increased Play with Objects: Introducing toys is great way to get your kitten to play if they do not have playmates. Play is crucial in helping to stimulate your kitten’s mind, as well as sharpen their reflexes. When playing with toys, they’ll most likely  scoop, toss, paw, mouth, and hold. Getting in at least 15 minutes of play twice a day is recommended.

Three to Six Months

Your kitten will continue developing social skills, often interacting with other pets in the house. They will also acknowledge and follow the ranking order within the house between him or herself and other pets and humans.

Six to 18 months

This is when your kitten might get a little frisky and start challenging you while exploring household and dominance boundaries. And if your kitten has not been spayed or neutered, well, let’s just say sexual exploration is about to begin.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is typical kitten behavior?

Kittens are typically very playful and curious creatures, and their behavior reflects their youthful energy and curiosity. Kittens love to play and explore their environment. They may run around the house, chase toys or other pets, climb on furniture, or bat at objects. Kittens are natural climbers and may climb on furniture, curtains, or even people. This behavior is a way for them to exercise and explore their surroundings. Kittens have a natural instinct to scratch, which helps them keep their claws healthy and sharp. They may scratch furniture or other objects in your home, but providing them with a scratching post can help redirect this behavior. Kittens may purr when they are happy or content, such as when they are being petted or held. Kittens may knead with their paws, a behavior that is often associated with nursing. This behavior can also be a sign of affection or comfort. Kittens may chase other pets or objects, which is a natural part of their play behavior. Overall, kitten behavior is generally characterized by curiosity, playfulness, and a desire to explore their environment. As they grow older, their behavior may change and become more sedate, but they will always have a playful and curious spirit.

How can you tell if a kitten is happy?

Kittens often purr when they are happy, content, or feeling relaxed. If your kitten is purring while being petted, held, or while lying down, it's a good sign that they are feeling happy. A happy kitten will have a relaxed body and will not be tense or on guard. They may be lying down or sitting comfortably, with their tail relaxed. A happy kitten is usually full of energy and loves to play. They may run around, chase toys, or engage in other playful behavior. A happy kitten is usually friendly and enjoys interacting with people and other pets. They may approach you, rub against your leg, or sit in your lap. A happy kitten will have a healthy appetite and will eat and drink regularly. They should also be using the litter box consistently. A happy kitten may meow or chirp in a friendly and content way, especially when being petted or held.

What is not normal kitten Behavior?

There are several signs of abnormal kitten behavior that may indicate an underlying health or behavioral issue.If your kitten is unusually inactive or spends most of their time sleeping, it may be a sign of illness or injury. Kittens may occasionally scratch or bite during play, but if they are exhibiting aggressive behavior towards people or other animals without provocation, it could be a sign of a behavioral issue that needs to be addressed. If your kitten is consistently hiding or avoiding people or other animals, it could be a sign of anxiety or fear. If your kitten is meowing excessively or making other unusual sounds, it could be a sign of stress, anxiety, or illness. If your kitten is not eating or drinking regularly, it could be a sign of a health issue that needs to be addressed. If your kitten is constantly grooming or scratching themselves, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue, such as fleas or allergies. If you notice any of these abnormal behaviors in your kitten, it's important to take them to the vet to rule out any underlying health issues or to seek the advice of a professional animal behaviorist to address any behavioral issues.

What age do kittens misbehave the most?

Kittens tend to misbehave the most between the ages of 8 weeks to 6 months. During this period, kittens are still learning about their environment and developing their social skills. They have a lot of energy and curiosity, and they may engage in behaviors that we might consider "misbehavior," such as scratching furniture, jumping on counters, biting, and chewing on inappropriate objects. This is also the period when kittens start teething, and they may chew on objects to help relieve the discomfort in their gums. This is normal behavior, but providing them with appropriate chew toys is important to prevent them from damaging your belongings. It's important to remember that kittens are still learning and need guidance and training during this period. Providing them with a safe, stimulating environment, plenty of toys to play with, and positive reinforcement training can help them learn appropriate behavior and reduce the likelihood of destructive or inappropriate behavior. With patience, consistency, and lots of love, you can help your kitten navigate this period of development and become a well-behaved and happy adult cat.

At what age do kittens calm down?

Kittens usually start to calm down between the ages of 6 months to 1 year. During this time, they are transitioning from being playful and curious kittens to becoming more settled and adult-like cats. They may become less active and start to sleep more as their energy levels decrease. However, every kitten is different, and some may take longer to calm down or remain playful and active throughout their life. It's important to remember that cats, like humans, have different personalities and energy levels, and their behavior may vary based on their individual needs and preferences.

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