Watching kittens socialize with their litter mates is truly entertaining. If you have kids you may notice that your baby feline has similar behaviors. Kittens do in fact have similar life stages to babies. Your furry friend will display characteristics similar to those of a toddler and preschool-age child.
Just like newborn babies, newborn kittens are completely helpless and fully rely on their mother. Their tiny eyes are sealed shut and they communicate with their mother by making high-pitched cries and purring. During the first few days of life, the mother cat's primary focus is on keeping her precious offspring warm and well fed, and to help them go to the bathroom by licking their hindquarters. Newborn kitties need to nurse about every one to two hours, explains the ASPCA. If Mama isn't producing enough milk or isn't nursing her young, you'll need to take on that role and bottle-feed the little ones yourself.
Somewhere in the first week or two, kittens go through an infant-type stage. Their eyes will open and they'll become a little mobile. Young kittens are still too weak too walk, but they will use their paws to pull themselves around on their bellies. This is similar to a baby's scooting across the floor. They'll also start teething and getting their baby teeth around 2 weeks of age, according to the Feline Advisory Bureau.
You'll notice your litter of kittens becoming more independent at about 3 or 4 weeks. They'll start to stand and even walk short distances, although they will probably fall over frequently while they learn. Vision becomes stronger as they grow and they'll start relying more on eyesight to find their mother, rather than sounds. Once they are walking, you can put out a litter box, since they will start getting the urge to go all on their own. At 4 weeks of age, start weaning the little fluffballs and feed them soft kitten foods.
Independent Kitty Phase
As the young kittens grow and mature, they will become more and more independent, similar to a small preschool-age child. By 5 weeks of age, your pint-sized frisky felines will run, play and pounce. They'll not only play with their furry family members, they'll also take an interest in playing with you. As early as 7 weeks, the tiny bundles of joy should be fully potty-trained and weaned from their mother's milk. Vision and fine motor skills, such as balancing on a ledge, will continue to improve through about 11 weeks after birth.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.