How can I tell how old a kitten is?
Fortunately, I’ve got everything you need to know to determine your adorable kittens’ age.
Just keep on reading.
8 Tips on How to Tell How Old a Kitten Is
Kittens are utterly helpless during the first few weeks of their lives and need around-the-clock care.
They rely on their mother for everything – food, warmth, protection, and going to the bathroom.
Unfortunately, mother cats sometimes abandon their little ones, or people throw them away.
Before you start caring for such kittens, you have to know how old they are.
Usually, it’s easy to estimate the age of a kitten when you take into account eight factors. Let’s see them.
#1 Look For A Umbilical Cord
Like humans, kittens are born head first and arrive in a thin sack that the mother breaks open.
Then she licks her kitten to stimulate them to breath and bites off the umbilical cord, leaving behind a short stump that hangs off your kittens’ bellies.
Usually, the remaining umbilical cord falls off in around three days to a week.
Any kitten that you find with an attached umbilical cord is probably only a few days old.
Such young kittens rarely survive without a mother, even when you do your best. They have better chances with a surrogate mother.
#2 Examine the Eyes
As your kitty grows, their eyes go through several changes, and you can use them to determine how old the kitty is.
Usually, kittens open their eyes when they’re 7-10 days old, but some might take up to 14 days.
Any kitten with closed eyes is probably a newborn and less than a week old, while those with squinty eyes are probably 2-3 week-old kittens.
Once your kitten’s eyes are open, you’ll notice that they’re bright blue. But that won’t be for long.
Your kitten’s eyes will start to change to their permanent, mature color when they’re around 6-7 weeks old.
So, if your kitty has brown or green eyes, they’re probably 2-month-old.
Still, some kittens have blue eyes, and their eyes won’t change color.
#3 Check the Ears
Kittens are born deaf. That’s why their ears look so strange during the first weeks of their life.
However, as the kitten grows up, the ears will begin to unfold and straighten.
If your kitty’s ears are close to the head, the kitten is probably less than a week old.
Bear-like ears suggest that your kitten is around 2-week-old, while pointy cat-ears are common in 3-week-old kittens.
#4 Look at the Claws
Have you ever seen a newborn kitten? Then you’ve noticed that they have tiny claws that don’t retract.
Usually, claws start to retract around the 3rd week and should be fully retractable by the forth.
So, look at the kitten’s paws. If you can see non-retractable claws, the kitten is under 3-week-old, while those with retractable claws – over three weeks.
#5 Weigh the Kittens
In general, weight isn’t a very reliable indicator of how old a kitten is.
Still, most healthy kittens are around 3.5 – 5.25 oz at birth and fit in your palm.
They almost double their weight by the end of the first week and continue to gain ¼ – ½ ounces a day.
You can expect that your kitten will weigh around 6-10 ounces to one pound when they’re three weeks old.
They will continue to gain weight slowly, so the 6-week-old kitten’s size should be approximately 1.5 pounds.
By the 12-14 week, your 3-month old kitten will be between 2-4 pounds, and you can expect that they’ll gain one pound a month until the kitten reaches their adult weight.
So, a 4-pound kitten is approximately four months old, while a 6-pound kitty is close to six-seven month-old.
Most cats weigh 10 pounds on average, but it depends a lot on the breed.
To track your kitten’s development, you might also use a printable size chart.
#6 Observe How They Walk
Newborn kittens can’t walk or stand. Instead, they “crawl” for lack of better word.
By the second-third week, the little ones will gain some mobility, but they will be very shaky and uncertain on their feet.
They won’t be interested in much more than sleeping and eating.
However, their coordination will improve during the third week, and they’ll become curious about the surroundings.
Once the kittens are around four weeks old, you might expect “escape” attempts from the nest as the little ones begin to explore.
They will also start to hide around the house.
Observe your kitten’s mobility. If the kittens belly-crawl, they’re probably newborns.
Unsteady and wobbly kittens are three-four weeks old, while kittens that run, jump, and play are at least 1-month-old.
#7 Check the Teeth
Teeth are another reliable way to tell how old a kitten is.
Depending on how many teeth you can see, you can make an educated guess how old your cat is:
- Incisors are usually the first teeth to appear between weeks two and three. If you can’t see any teeth in the mouth, you might run your fingers along the gums to check.
- Canines emerge around the third and fourth week. These are the long and pointy teeth next to the incisors.
- Premolars appear around week four and six.
So, a 3-month-old and 4-month-old kittens will have a full set of deciduous teeth, including 12 incisors, 4 canines, and 10 premolars.
But if your kitten has molars, they’re probably over seven months.
Teeth are also a reliable indication of how old an adult cat is. The presence/lack of teeth and the accumulated tartar can give you a rough estimation of your cat’s age.
#8 Ask Your Vet
Usually, you don’t have to do much if the kittens have a mother to take care of them.
But if they’re abandoned, you should take them to the vet for their first examination to make sure that they’re healthy.
While you’re at the clinic, you can ask your vet how old the kittens are and how to care for them. Newborns require around-the-clock care to make sure that they’re thriving, but older kittens are easy to look after.
It’s not always easy to tell how old a kitten is. However, based on their appearance, weight, eye color, and teeth, you can make an accurate guess.
You can try this how old is my kitten quiz to see if you’ve grasped the essentials. Have fun!
What do you think about the topic? How do you tell how old a kitten is? Tell us in the comment section.
I’ve grown up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped me into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). I’ve got two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but I also feed my neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them.
I discovered that writing is my vocation early in my school years. Since then I’ve taken part in several literature contests – writing horror and fantasy short stories and novellas.
For the past three years, I’ve been an ELS teacher, pouring my heart into showing children and teenagers how important English is for their future and trying to educate them how to treat their pets with care.