Skip to main content

PawTracks may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

This is the age when a kitten can be considered a grown cat

While nothing is more adorable than a playful kitten, adult cats carry an air of elegance and mystique. Some cats retain their kittenish qualities throughout their lifetime, while others become a purring personification of dignity and grace. Yet one thing remains the same: no matter your cat’s age, you’ll always consider your little furball your precious baby. But have you ever wondered, “When does a kitten become a cat?” We’ll give you the scoop on when a kitten can be considered a grown cat and cover some milestones she should hit along the way. 

A beautiful striped kitten lying on a tile floor.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

At what age does a kitten become a cat? 

Kittens develop rapidly in their first few weeks. They are born deaf and blind, and they can’t walk until they’re several weeks old. Your kitten’s eyes will be fully open by two weeks, and by three weeks her hearing will be fully developed. At one month of age, your kitten will be able to use the bathroom on her own, her deciduous teeth – also known as milk teeth or baby teeth – have begun to erupt through her gums, and you can begin weaning your kitten from her milk- or formula-exclusive diet. By the time your kitten is 12 weeks old, she’s ready to come home with you or be adopted by her new forever family. 

When your kitten reaches five to six months of age, you can safely have her spayed. She probably looks like she’s fully grown at this point. (Large cat breeds like Maine Coons are the exception to the rule, as they don’t reach their full size until they’re 3 to 4 years old.) However, while your kitten may resemble an adult as early as six months of age, she still needs to eat a diet formulated to provide growing kittens with the essential protein, vitamins, and minerals required for healthy development until she’s 12 months old. When your kitten is 1 year old, she’s officially considered an adult cat, and you can safely transition her from her diet of kitten food to a formula tailored to meet the needs of adult cats. Experts recommend mixing in a small amount of her new food into her old food, increasing the amount of new food each day for a week. A slow transition helps your cat adjust to her new diet while minimizing stomach upset.

A kitten sleeping on crayon-patterned sheets.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

At what age do kittens become independent?

Depending on their definition of the word, many pet parents consider their cat independent when she reaches adulthood – at 12 months of age – or when she’s old enough to explore, use the litter box on her own, and eat dry kibble. Kittens grow more independent between the ages of 2 and 6 months. At this stage of development, your kitten’s razor-sharp deciduous teeth will fall out and be replaced by her permanent teeth. When kittens are 8 weeks old, you’ll be able to wean them off their mother’s milk (or formula if you’ve been bottle-feeding them) completely, and your fur babies should have the hang of using a litter box. 

However, kittens really become independent at around the six to eight-month mark. If kittens had official teenage years, this time period is the most fitting comparison. By the time kittens reach six months of age, they’ve become familiar with their environment, and their personalities have fully developed. When kittens are 8 to 12 months old, they’ve more or less reached their full size (with a few exceptions), all their adult teeth have erupted, and they have developed most of their adult social skills. 

An orange tabby kitten snuggles a gray tabby kitten.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Helping your kitten become independent

Just like young puppies, young kittens have short attention spans. You can begin training your kitten to use the litter box at around three to four weeks of age, though she may not master the art until she’s eight weeks old. In addition to litter box training, you may want to begin behavioral training when your kitten is six to eight weeks old. Training is a bonding experience between fur babies and pet parents, and it also helps alleviate common cat behavioral problems like fearfulness, anxiety, scratching, biting, and eliminating outside the litter box. You want your kitten to grow up to be a happy, healthy, and well-adjusted adult. By feeding her the appropriate diet, keeping on top of her vaccinations, and training her to obey your commands, your tiny bundle of kittenish cuteness will blossom into a mature, well-behaved cat. 

Editors' Recommendations

Mary Johnson
Mary Johnson is a writer and photographer from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her work has been published in PawTracks and…
Do cats sleep more in winter because they’re depressed? Here’s what to know about seasonal changes in felines
Do they experience seasonal depression? Find out here
Cat sleeping on a beige fleece blanket

When the winter weather hits and the days become shorter, gray, and overcast, it can be all too tempting to climb into your PJs early and call it a night. Chances are -- your cat is right there with you! If you think you're noticing your feline friend sleeping more frequently or for longer periods of time during the winter, you might not be imagining things.
Cats' sleeping habits can change for many reasons! Anything from a change in diet to a new family routine can change the way a kitty sleeps or how long they spend napping. It's important to keep track of your cat's sleep, though, because big changes can sometimes indicate health issues in pets. So, do cats sleep more in winter? And why do they spend so much time snoozing?

Do cats sleep more in winter? If it seems like it, you're not just imagining things
You're not crazy if you feel like cats sleep more in the winter -- it's totally true! The ASPCA reports that cats typically sleep between 12 and 20 hours per day, but in the winter, they may sleep even more. Many people and other pets -- like dogs and hibernating species -- can relate!
That increase in sleep may be because of a natural, seasonal change in animals' circadian rhythms -- the daylight hours are shorter, after all -- but your cat might also be picking up on your own changes in routine. If you're headed to bed a little earlier than usual, they might too.

Read more
Vets reveal 5 biggest dangers to pets during the Christmas season (and what to do to keep them safe
Christmas can prove dangerous for dogs and cats. Follow this vet advice to keep pets safe this holiday season
A dog steals dinner from the Christmas table

The winter season represents a wonderful time for people and pets to come together, eat great food, and celebrate their holidays. But it's also the busiest time of the year for vet clinics, in part because pet accidents frequently occur when the family gathers and the greenery comes out.

It's important for everyone to stay mindful of what can cause harm to an animal that is much smaller than the average human and allergic to very different things. That's why we've put together a quick list — with the help of a few vets — to keep you and your pets safe this Christmas.

Read more
Video: This is everything that can go wrong with your cat and your Christmas tree
Here's how to cat proof your Christmas tree (plus watch what happens when you don't)
A cat sits beneath a Christmas tree on top of a present

It's the most wonderful time of the year — for cats. Our furry felines love the Christmas season because it comes with lots of new smells and ornaments to play with. Of course, when your kitty decides her new favorite toy is your holiday decorations, you might be in for a bit of trouble. This video perfectly sums up everything that can go wrong when your cat discovers the Christmas tree.

Compilation videos frequently go viral on TikTok and this one, entitled Cats and Christmas trees, is sure to delight since it features the internet's favorite creatures. You get to witness a series of cats attacking, inspecting, and attempting to climb their Christmas trees. Predictably, many of the evergreens fall over onto the unsuspecting house cats. That certainly doesn't stop them from trying again though.

Read more