How to Age a Kitten
A Visual Guide
One day old – A newly born kitten cannot see and has little control over their boy movements
Ten days old – A kitten usually opens it eyes at about 10 days
Three weeks old – The kitten will begin to experiment with solid food at this age
Five weeks old – By now the kitten will be able to run and balance well
Eight weeks old – The kitten will have learnt to socialise with it’s siblings and others cats
14 weeks old 5 months old Adult
Fourteen weeks old – The kittens motor skills have improved, its ability to balance is at its peak
Five months old – Sexual maturity may be reached from this age although it does vary from cat to cat
Adult – Full size and maturity are reached about 1 year of age
Apart from markers such as the growth of molars, the best way to age a kitten is by the posture and size, which is how we at Cats Welfare age the kittens we rescue. This pictorial guide shown above is a good visual aid in ageing a kitten, taken from the book Essential Cat by Caroline Davis.
A kitten will start to attain a more upright posture – both sitting and standing – only after 5 weeks of age. This means a kitten above the age of five weeks sits up straight like an adult cat. Kittens under and up to the age of 5 weeks old will have a kitten posture, a bit wobbly on the hind legs, and round instead of upright and erect.
Kittens are best rescued for re-homing under and up to the age of 8 weeks old, maximum 12 weeks old – otherwise they become to accustomed to life on the street and may remain feral for the rest of its life, thus unsuitable for becoming a domestic pet.
So do take note of the age of the kittens that you see on the street – not all are young enough for rescue and re-homing.
Not sure if the kitten you saw needs rescue? Here is a simple check-list:
- Is the kitten under 4 weeks of age? If so, does it have a mother cat? If yes, do not remove the kittens from the mother until it reaches 3-5 weeks of age. You could try to see if you can catch the mother and kittens.
- Kittens between 4 weeks to 8 weeks of age are ideal for rescue and re-homing.
- Is the kitten more than 12 weeks old? If so, allow the kitten to remain as a stray as it has very little chance of being domesticated and re-homed and may end up becoming a permanent shelter cat or being re-released back on to the streets.
- If the cat is obviously a newly abandoned cat – just sighted, well groomed, pedigree, wearing a collar – and reporting it as lost has had no results of the cat being claimed by an owner, then this cat is suitable for re-homing despite of age. If the cat has been abandoned for a long time, it is already accustomed to stray life and will not be suitable for re-homing.
If you have found a stray kitten and wish us to help in fostering and re-homing it, do check this chart and check-list before assessing if it is indeed suitable for re-homing. And if still in doubt about its age, measure its length and contact us first.
Please remember we do not have a refuge so may not be able to help on every occasion.