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 to challenge you, while also 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.