Newborn kittens, though clumsy, are somewhat capable of getting around on their own -- but they don't walk right away. Mama may nudge her babies around in their earliest days, but after a few weeks they'll be strong enough to walk around. Be ready: This is when they become super-frisky.
In the Beginning
From day one, newborn kittens are adapting to their new environment. Since their eyes are closed for the first few days, they'll listen for the cries of their littermates and noises from their mom to guide them where to go. While these tiny babies are curious about their surroundings and may try to get around, they can't quite walk yet. Baby kitties use their paws to paddle or scoot around the nesting area. This scooting stage lasts for about the first two to three weeks of life, according to the Feline Advisory Bureau. Fortunately, their weak little legs don't allow them to get very far, so they'll crawl only short distances.
As your litter of fluffy friends builds strength, they'll start standing and will eventually walk a few steps at a time. Usually this occurs during the third week; by the fourth week, babies Scruffy, Felix and Princess should be walking longer distances -- although they may still be a bit clumsy. This is also around the same time these little guys start weaning and have the natural urge to potty on their own.
Somewhere around 5 or 6 weeks of age, you'll have a nesting box full of kittens that are learning to run. They'll be playing with their littermates, pouncing on momma kitty and giving you plenty of entertainment. Since they're fully mobile by this time, they can get into all kinds of mischief. Keep these curious critters in a relatively small enclosed area where they cannot get hurt. Gating a corner of a bedroom or setting up a baby playpen are just a couple ways you can keep your balls of fur out of harm's way.
Newborn kittens need to spend time with their mother as well as their littermates in order to develop certain skills. Whether you have a small brood of furry babies at home or are getting ready to adopt, don't pull kittens from their fuzzy family too early. Separating a kitten younger than five weeks of age from mama may result in aggression and inability to fully learn life and social skills, explains Dr. Virginia Clemans, a Utah-based veterinarian. Kittens should be able to walk, run, play, eat and use the litter box on their own before being adopted into a new home. If you're unsure if your kittens are old enough to give away, check with your veterinarian to ensure your furry buddies have fully developed.
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.