How long do cats take to grow and how big do they get? This depends partly on their genetic make-up and external factors such as diet. Cats have six growth phases. If we are aware of these, we can give our cats the perfect start to a healthy life and support them as well as possible on the road to adulthood.
Growth of Cats in Six Phases
The growth of cats can be divided into six phases.
The growth of cats in six phases
Pregnant cats give birth to their kittens after around 66 days. At this time, the small, cute creatures barely weigh 100g, but they will soon develop into curious felines in the months that follow. The growth of cats can be split into different phases:
Phase 1: The first week of life
After they are born, kittens are still blind and weak and absolutely need their mother’s milk. Also known as colostrum, this milk contains vital nutrients and protective antibodies (protective proteins). The latter are vital for the health of kittens, since the immune system is still inexperienced and debilitated after birth. Since they still do not have their full coat, kittens also need the protective warmth of their mother.
After about a week, kittens open their eyes for the first time and lose their umbilical cord through dehydration. You have to pay attention to the daily weight of your kittens so that they make a healthy start to life. Weight tables allow you to check whether the feline offspring are developing well and to adapt their diet if necessary.
Phase 2: Emergence of the milk teeth
In the first few weeks, kittens still have little strength, therefore spend most of the day asleep. The first milk teeth emerge between three and eight weeks of age. A kitten has 26 milk teeth, which are much smaller and pointier in comparison to their adult dentition.
Phase 3: The first solid food
After four weeks, kittens have already started to put on some weight. They can finally run and romp around with their siblings. In addition, they can start to consume solid food. This is the right moment to gradually offer kittens a soft kitten food, although this change in food should be carried out slowly. The gastrointestinal tract is still accustomed to the mother’s milk at the beginning and has to first adjust to the new food. If not, diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal pain may occur.
Phase 4: Small cats continue to grow steadily
The kittens are now two months old and eat solid food all the time. They are still growing so have higher energy and nutrient requirements than their adult relatives. Hence, you should give them special food tailored precisely to their phase of life. It’s up to you whether you prefer to give your kittens wet food or dry food.
Now is also the right time to see a vet for the first time. They can give you information on important vaccinations and, if necessary, the right diet for kittens.
Between three and six months of age, the change of teeth takes place. During this period, the milk teeth are replaced by 30 permanent teeth. As a comparison, humans have around 32 teeth, whilst dogs have 42 permanent teeth.
Phase 5: Kittens become cats
Cats reach adulthood after seven exciting months. Female cats are now in heat and can become pregnant. Males become sexually mature around a month later. From this time, castration or neutering can be considered following sufficient information and time for consideration.
Phase 6: End of growth
Cats have now reached one year of age and are much calmer. They do not increase further in size in the subsequent years. After around eight action-packed years, the hairs in the mouth area become slightly whiter. This is usually the first sign of ageing. However, increased fatigue and unwillingness to exercise can also follow gradually.
How big and heavy do cats get?
There is no generic answer here. On the one hand, the growth of cats depends on their genes as well as influences such as diet when they are kittens. On the other hand, many cat breeds differ greatly in terms of size and physique. For instance, in our regions a very popular breed is the British Shorthair, which reaches on average 80 to 90cm in length. However, adult Maine Coon cats (especially males) can reach up to 120cm in length.
How old do cats actually get?
Healthy cats reach on average 15 years of age, whilst some even make it to the age of 19. This is an individual figure and depends on genetics. However, diseases, nutritional deficiencies or malnutrition can have a negative influence of the age of cats.
Coronaviruses don't just affect us pet owners, but our furry friends too. In contrast to the new type of coronavirus affecting humans, feline coronavirus (FcoV) has already been known for several years. These include feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) and the much better-known feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV). The latter causes fatal feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which leads to peritonitis and abdominal dropsy. On the other hand, people suffer from flu-like symptoms, especially those with weakened immune systems like elderly or sick people.