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Posted on 11-21-2016

What To Expect: Your Kitten’s First Year

Expect a lot of cuddles, purrs and playfulness during your kitten's first year, along with a few behavior milestones essential for turning your rambunctious kitten into a healthy, loving adult cat. One thing many new kitten owners wonder about is the learning curve associated with teaching a kitten to use a litterbox. Actually, all you need to do is show your kitten where the litterbox is located. Cats have a natural instinct to conceal their feces, an ancient behavior meant to deter predators.

Kitten Behavior--Newborn to Six Weeks

Helpless and blind for a few days, kittens will start opening their eyes within a week of birth. Sometimes, one eye may open before the other eye opens. Very young kittens spend most of their time nursing and being groomed by their mother. Don't be alarmed if the mother cat suddenly gets up in the middle of nursing her kittens. She knows what she is doing! Their tiny meows will bring her right back to them.

At four weeks, kittens should be walking and playing with their siblings. Teeth erupt at this time as well. By the fifth and sixth week, kittens are grooming themselves and using the litterbox. They are also pouncing, stalking and preying on objects. It is important that kittens are handled regularly by humans once they begin trying to walk. In fact, research shows that consistent, kitten-human interaction encourages development of bigger feline brains, a factor vital to socializing cats so they do not act aggressively as adult cats.

Seven Weeks to Three Months

This stage of development is the "cutest" stage, involving endless hours of kittens perfecting their preying skills. You will also notice personality differences among kitten siblings emerging at this time, along with ranking behaviors (dominant kittens vs. submissive kittens) involving the litterbox, food and play strategies.

Since weaning begins around this time, you should offer dry and canned kitten food several times a day. Some kittens begin eating kitten food right away while others may take more time to get used to eating instead of suckling.

Three Months to 12 Months

Sexual behavior begins during this stage. Female adolescent cats may meow constantly, "churr", roll around on the ground and elevate their rumps. Male cats approaching seven months of age may start "spraying"--marking their territory with strong-smelling urine-- and biting the back of necks of unneutered females. Be aware that female cats can get pregnant when they are five months old and actually give birth to kittens at six months old.

Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian in St. Paul MN today for a wellness check and to learn more about spaying/neutering services: (651) 487-3255.

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