ExcitedCats is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

When Does My Kitten Become a Cat?

Tiny kittens develop and change so quickly that you might be wondering at exactly what age your roly-poly kitten turns into a cat. In short, kittens are generally accepted to be classified as a cat once they pass their first birthday.

Let’s take a look at the stages that your kitten will go through as they head into adulthood.

3 cat face divider

1 week – 3 weeks old

kittens sleeping_New Africa_Shutterstock
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

At 1 week of age, kittens will be spending most of their time sleeping and eating. Kittens will start to open their eyes around 2 weeks of age, and their ear canals will open at roughly 3 weeks. Kittens of this age need help peeing and pooping, and their mother cats usually help them with this after they’ve eaten.

1 month old

kitten in a litter box_Africa Studio, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

By now, a kitten can pee and poop on their own, and their teeth are starting to break through. Kittens at this age will be more mobile. They’ll be spending more time exploring their surroundings and starting to build up muscle. At a month to 5 weeks old, most kittens will start being weaned onto a wet kitten food.

2-6 months old

kitten _Happy monkey_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Happy monkey, Shutterstock

Kittens can start to be vaccinated at around 8-12 weeks. At this age, they can also leave their mother cat and travel to their new homes.

At this age, kittens are active and need to be eating an energy-dense diet as their bones and muscles develop. Kittens expend three times more energy than adult cats, so free-feeding them can be a good idea at this point.

Between 4 to 6 months old, kittens can be spayed or neutered. This reduces the risks of them developing certain health issues later in life and prevents certain hormone-related behaviors, like urine spraying and excessive vocalization.

6 months old and up

By 6 months old, kittens are looking more like a mini adult cat. At 7 months, most kittens will have their full set of adult teeth

12 months old

cat eating cake_NataliPro, Shutterstock
Image Credit: NataliPro, Shutterstock

Happy birthday! By the time that your kitten is a year old, they’re considered an adult cat.

Switching to adult cat food

Once your kitten hits their first birthday, you can begin thinking about transitioning them to an adult cat food rather than the kitten food that they’ve been eating up to this point. It’s a good idea to speak to your vet about this process. Make sure any food that you choose is approved by the Association of American Food Control Officials for the maintenance life stage of cats. Kitten food, on the other hand, should be approved for the growth and development phase. Each formula contains balanced nutrition for that particular life stage and shouldn’t be used interchangeably.

cat paw divider

Wrapping it up

Watching your kitten grow into a healthy adult cat is a rewarding experience. Making sure they have access to the correct food and veterinary care is essential to give your kitten the best start in life. Of course, plenty of cuddles and playtime with their new owners is also obligatory!


Featured Image Credit: Liliya Kulianionak, Shutterstock