Pet Care Blog

How To Tell How Old A Kitten Is (And Why It Matters)

Edwin Plotts, Director of Marketing
Reviewed by Dr. Lila Batiari, DVM
young kitten

Whether you’re bringing a new kitten home or recently found a stray kitten outside, it’s valuable to know how old they are so that you can provide appropriate care.

Protect Your Kitten With Pet Insurance Read The Ultimate Kitten Care Guide

In this post, you’ll learn how to tell how old a kitten is with guidance from our kitten growth chart, progression timeline, and expert advice.

Click on a link below to learn more:

How to tell how old a kitten is

You can generally tell how old a kitten is in seven steps:

1. Umbilical cord

The umbilical cord should dry out and drop off naturally during the first week of a kitten’s life. The animal is probably under five days old if the umbilical cord is still attached.

2. Eyes

Kittens’ eyes start opening seven to 10 days after birth. By two weeks old, they should be fully open and focussing. All newborn kittens have baby blue eyes and will begin to develop their adult shade at about seven weeks of age.

3. Ears

A kitten’s ears will remain folded until seven days old. At two weeks old, the ear canals will open and the ears will appear rounded. The ears will begin pointing upward around three weeks of age.

4. Weight

Weight and size are not always the most reliable way to tell a kitten’s age because standard averages can vary by factors like health and breed. That said, you can still get a general idea of how hold a kitten is by comparing their weight to a basic kitten growth chart.

Kitten Growth Chart: Weight by Age

Age Weight
Newborn kitten 3.5 oz
1 week 5.25 oz
1-2 weeks 4-6 oz
2-3 weeks 6-8 oz
4-5 weeks 0.5-1 lb
6-7 weeks 1-1.5 lb
7-8 weeks 1.5-2 lb

5. Gait

At two weeks old, kitten will start trying to walk but the gait will be wobbly until they’re approximately four weeks. You can expect a one month-old kitten to walk steadily, be more playful, and demonstrate better coordination.

6. Teeth

If your kitten has no teeth, they are under three weeks old. If your baby pet does have teeth, you can tell their age based on which teeth they have. Here is a guide to when kitten teeth appear:

  • Detention (baby) teeth start appearing near 4 weeks old, looking like small, pointed tips
  • Permanent (adult) teeth start coming in at 3-4 months old, appearing wider and flatter compared to kitten teeth
  • Middle incisors come in around 14 weeks old
  • 3rd incisor will appear around 15 weeks old
  • 4th incisors will show around 16 weeks old
  • Adult canine teeth grow last, between 4-6 months of age, at which point kittens’ baby teeth fall out to make room for the permanent set

7. Sexual maturity

Sexual maturity is essential to know as it applies to neutering and spaying. Male cats reach sexual maturity at around six months. Around this time, male kittens will begin spraying their territory. Female cats mature between five to nine months.

Why it’s important to know how old your kitten is

These days, many people buy their kittens online and some of them might have concerns the kitten is not as old as the breeder claimed. If, for instance, your new baby's pet suckles on your shirt or licks your hair, it can indicate that they were taken away from their mother too early.

If this is the case, you should be concerned because there is a higher chance of illness in kittens that are weak, young, and/or premature, especially if they’re taken from their mother too soon.

Cats experience different health needs at various points in their life. If you find yourself with a small kitten to look after, you must be aware of their age so that you can follow a timely vaccination schedule, make sure your pet is fully dewormed, and old enough to be spayed/neutered, etc.

Protect Your Kitten With Pet Insurance Read The Ultimate Kitten Care Guide

Knowing your kitten’s age will also enable you to provide age-appropriate socialization, care, and nutrition to make sure that your pet is maintaining a healthy weight and body condition.

It's a good idea to sign up your kitten for pet insurance while they’re still young. This is because most providers that offer pet insurance for cats don't cover pre-existing conditions, so you should enroll before your pet develops any health issues.

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Key Takeaways

  • Although it can be difficult to learn how to tell a kitten's age, there are several things such as your pet’s eyes, ears, teeth, gait, and weight that will help you figure out how old your kitten is.
  • Regardless of whether you are bringing home a new kitten or recently found a stray kitten outside, knowing how old your kitten is can be important if you want to make sure you’re providing age-appropriate socialization, nutrients, and care.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell how old a stray kitten is?

Here are some tell-tale signs that will help you determine how old a stray kitten is:

  • Under one week of age, kittens’ eyes are shut, their ears are folded, and they can’t walk yet. At this time, the umbilical cord may still be visible.
  • Around 1-2 weeks, the kitten’s eyes begin to open and their ears start to unfold.
  • At three weeks, the ears and eyes are fully open, the kitten will start to take the first steps, and you should notice the first baby teeth.
  • At 4-5 weeks kittens typically start to wean and are able to consume soft food. During this period, the color of their eyes should begin changing and by seven weeks, the kitten should have their adult color.
  • At eight weeks of age, your kitten should look like a miniature cat.

How to tell if a kitten is 8 weeks old?

At eight weeks of age, kittens are already consuming wet or dry cat food, and nursing only occasionally. Your kitten’s eyes should already have changed from baby blue to their adult color.

Your little pet should also have all their baby teeth and might start getting their adult teeth. At this age, kittens should weigh about two lb.

Can you tell how old a kitten is by their whiskers?

No, but you can look at your kitten’s teeth, eyes, ears, fur coat, and sexual maturity to estimate their age.

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Edwin Plotts, Director of Marketing at Pawlicy Advisor

Edwin Plotts
Director of Marketing & Foster/Rescue Parent - Pawlicy Advisor

Edwin Plotts rescues and rehomes cats in Savannah, GA - while leading Pawlicy Advisor's brand growth. He's a pet parent of two rescued sibling cats: Greyson and Babs. He's also an avid volunteer with Flatbush Cats and The Toby Project.

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