Got kittens? Knowing how old they are is an important factor in your decisions about their veterinary care. Accurately aging these wee felines can seem like a daunting job, but we’ve compiled some simple guidelines that can make determining your kitten's age a breeze.
Answer these 4 questions to help determine your best estimate of a kitten’s age:
1. What do their teeth look like?
Baby teeth start to come in around 3 weeks of age in kittens, and their permanent adult teeth start to come in between 3-4 months. The middle incisors are the first to come in around 14 weeks, with the second and third incisors following shortly after at about 15 and 16 weeks, respectively.
Photo: Stephanie Janeczko, DVM, MS, Dipl. ABVP (Canine/Feline)
Kitten teeth are tiny, which makes it tricky to tell if the incisors are baby teeth or the permanent adult teeth. It’s easiest when you have some of both to serve as a comparison, like in the above photo. The baby teeth are a little smaller with pointed tips, while the permanent teeth are a little wider with flat edges. Because the first two incisors in this kitten are permanent teeth and the third incisors are still baby teeth, we would estimate his age at approximately 15 weeks.
2. How much do they weigh?
A kitten’s weight in pounds roughly corresponds to her age in months, and she will gain weight at a relatively predictable rate until about 5 months of age. As long as a kitten is in good body condition, you can safely guess that a 1-pound kitten is about 4 weeks old and a 3-pound kitten is about 12 weeks old.
Photo: Sandra Newbury, DVM, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
3. Are their eyes open?
Kittens are born with their eyes closed, and they don’t open until about 10 days of age.
4. Are they walking and playing?
Most kittens start walking around 3 weeks of age, but take a little longer to gain their coordination. You can be comfortable saying that a kitten who is walking pretty well and playing is at least 4 weeks of age.
How are you estimating the ages of kittens at your agency?