Every kitten has a unique disposition and temperament just like every person does. However, just as there is a typical stage of human behavior during each growth period from birth to adulthood, there is also a typical stage of kitten behavior during the growth to an adult cat. Kittens start their first stage at only two weeks of age when their mother begins to socialize them.
Kittens learn about dominant and submissive behavior from their mother when they are two weeks old. Through her actions and tone of voice, she teaches them to submit to her demands. By four weeks of age, the kitten struggles to be the dominant one over his or her siblings.
At the typical stage of kitten behavior between seven and 12 weeks of age, kittens are extremely playful. They chase their own tails and roll around and run when playing with their siblings. Kittens at this stage start to toss objects in the air and engage in stalking and pouncing behaviors. If a kitten has no siblings to play with, a human should spend time playing with the cat at this stage.
At nine weeks old, kittens begin to physically lengthen, giving you an idea of what size they’ll be as adult cats. At this stage, kittens are lots of fun to play with and watch as they run around and chase tails–but there is an important reason behind the craziness. Kittens are now in their most active play period, which is designed to improve motor skills and help their rapidly growing bodies develop physical coordination. Your kitten will begin to enjoy toys at this age. Don’t be surprised to see your kitten tossing, licking, leaping, mouthing or pawing–it’s all practice for the adult feline world.
Take a closer look at the iris of your kitten’s eyes; the color will begin to change from the universal baby blues all kittens have to his true eye color–which may be gems of solid green, gold or true blue. Those eyes are busy watching everything around them as your kitten takes social cues from mom, littermates or her human family.
It is during the stage that occurs between three and six months of age that the mother’s early lessons become significant. The lessons the kitten learned about dominance and submissiveness will determine how the kitten will behave. Kittens will likely try to dominate humans at this stage if they are allowed to. It is important not to play aggressively with kittens using your hands or allow them to bite hands. The play should be stopped if it becomes too rough.
Between six and 12 months of age, typical behavior still revolves around the mentality of dominance and control. Females and males become sexually mature around six months of age and un-neutered males especially may start spraying urine to mark their territory and express their sexual availability. This stage of kitten behavior is the adolescent stage and kittens may begin to behave very independently.
Building Winter Cat Shelters
Bottle Feeding Orphaned Kittens
TNR Certification Workshop
Taming Feral Kittens for Adoption