Skip to main content

What are the different stages of kitten behavior? You’ll want to be prepared

If you have a new kitten in your home, or if your cat has given birth to a litter of kittens, then you’ll get to see those kittens develop and grow up. While kittens undergo different growth stages, there are also different kitten behavior stages to be aware of. The more you understand about how kitten behavior changes throughout these stages, the better you’ll be able to spot any behavior that isn’t normal and that might indicate a health issue that needs veterinary care. Here are the behavior changes you should expect in the following kitten stages as your newest fur babies grow.

Neonatal period

According to VetFolio, the first of the five kitten growth stages after your kitten is born is the neonatal period, which occurs from birth to two weeks. During this period, kittens are blind and deaf, so they entirely depend on their mother for survival and feeding. The mother cat also helps kittens to regulate their temperature, and she stimulates them to get them to go to the bathroom after feeding.

Transitional period

The transitional period occurs at the end of the neonatal period, and during this time your kitten’s ears and eyes will open. There isn’t a clearly defined length for this transitional period, but it lasts up until the early stages of your kitten’s socialization period.

Kitten lying in a cat bed with its head on the edge
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Socialization period

The time when your kitten is two to seven weeks old is the socialization period. During this timeframe, your kitten needs to be exposed to new experiences and environmental surroundings so he’s able to develop. As your kitten becomes able to see and hear, he’ll be ready to play with other kittens. Through this play, he’ll learn bite and claw inhibition and develop important social skills. If your kitten isn’t exposed to other kittens during this period, he might not learn to restrain his biting and claw use.

Juvenile period

Your kitten’s juvenile period starts when he’s about two months old, and it lasts up to between four and ten months of age. Aspen Grove Vet reports that during this time, your kitten will eat solid food and will continue to learn important social skills. He’ll be using the litter box and may explore his environment by climbing.

When your cat is in this juvenile period, you can help satisfy his desire to explore by giving him vertical spaces to climb, like scratching posts or cat trees. It’s also important to continue your kitten’s social education during this time by interacting with him in gentle play and by giving him the chance to interact with other kittens or cats.

Orange and white kitten lying on a bed playing with a wand toy
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Adolescent period

When your cat reaches puberty, he’ll enter his adolescent period. Puberty can occur anywhere from between four to 10 months, reports VetFolio. This adolescent period lasts until your cat is socially mature, which happens between 36 and 48 months. This period is equivalent to your cat being a teenager.

According to Aspen Grove Vet, your cat will reduce the amount of social play he performs during this period. Your cat might challenge other cats to establish his status among them. If you allow him outdoors, he’ll start wandering and may go farther than he’s gone previously. It’s important to play with your cat and reward him for gentle, appropriate play during this stage. You might need to get a larger litter box if your cat has grown, and it’s a good idea to ensure your cat has a microchip and a collar with an ID tag, particularly if he goes outside.

This is also the stage when it becomes important to spay or neuter your cat. When your cat is spayed or neutered, he’s less likely to urinate in the house and mark territory. He’s also less likely to get into fights and roam far distances away from home.

Final thoughts on kitten development

In the span of a year, you’ll see your kitten go from being completely dependent on his mom to being an independent and happy cat. Keep an eye out for the different behavior stages that your kitten progresses through and watch for those behavior milestones. If you notice your kitten is falling behind in his behavior, give your vet a call just in case. Kittens grow rapidly, and while your kitten might seem to have tons and tons of energy while he’s younger, remember that it’s just one of his behavior stages. That energy and playfulness are key to your kitten’s social development, and as he ages, that energy will gradually decline. You can still keep your kitten fit and healthy by playing with him daily, though, and don’t forget that play is a great way to bond with your kitten, too.

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Paige Cerulli
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Paige's work has appeared in American Veterinarian, Business Insider, Healthline, and more. When she's not writing, Paige…
50 amazing boy dog names to consider for your new puppy
Find your puppy the perfect moniker with these aesthetic male names
A yellow Lab puppy wearing a blue collar looks up

So, you're bringing home a new puppy. Congratulations! Preparing to add four more paws to your family can be one of the most exciting and joyful things you'll ever do, but there are also a lot of decisions to be made. What food will they eat? Where will they sleep? And perhaps most importantly -- what will their name be?

While things like dog beds and collars can be replaced over time, your dog's name will be around forever. Because of this, it's perfectly understandable to feel overwhelmed by this decision. After all, the options are quite literally endless.

Read more
What is littermate syndrome? Why this puppy bond can be a problem
Why you want to avoid littermate syndrome (and what to do if you didn't)
Golden retriever puppies

What's better than bringing one puppy home? Two — or so you might think. Welcoming two puppies at the same time can seem adorable in theory, especially if they're from the same litter. The two puppies already knew one another and were perhaps born within seconds of one another. Siblings growing up together, what could be more fun?

However, most animal behavioral experts recommend against getting two puppies on the same day (or within six months). They're not trying to rain on your puppy parade. Instead, experts warn against the possibility of littermate syndrome. What is littermate syndrome, and why can it be so stressful? Let's discuss. We'll also work through ways to treat littermate syndrome if your pets already have the issue.
What is littermate syndrome?

Read more
The best medium-sized dog breeds for your family
These dogs are the perfect size — and temperament — for families with kids
An English springer spaniel's side profile standing next to tall grass

Whether you're a veteran dog owner or are new to the canine world, it can be immensely helpful to do your research before adopting the dog of your dreams. After all, step one is to figure out what your ideal four-legged friend might be like.
Will they cuddle up with you at the end of the day, or will they sleep in a dog bed all their own? Would you like a high-energy friend or a canine buddy that can binge-watch your favorite Netflix show at all hours of the day with you? Perhaps even more importantly, what size dog can you handle in your home?
Medium-sized dogs are a perfect fit for those who may want the activity of a larger dog without the massive size. Many families prefer mid-sized canines because they're large enough to play with children without getting hurt, but they're not too large to spook or knock over a child (most of the time, anyway). There can be many reasons why a medium-sized dog breed is your perfect fit, but how do you know what breed to look into? Let us help you decide.

Medium-sized dogs for families with children

Read more