When Do Cats Stop Growing? Tips On How To Care For Your Kittens

To best care for your cats, you need to understand the stages they go through as they grow from a kitten to a fully-grown cat. Every cat is different, and some breeds grow at different rates and for different lengths of time than others.

Here are some top tips on how to care for your growing cat, and when to expect them to reach their full potential.

When Do Cats Stop Growing?

This time varies from cat to cat, and more specifically from breed to breed. However, in general, owners can expect their cats to stop growing from 12 months to 18 months.

Speaking to Newsweek, Dr. Sarah Elliott, central veterinary officer for U.K. charity Cats Protection, said: "Kittens will usually reach their adult weight at 12 months old, although some larger breeds like the Maine Coon may take a few months longer to stop growing.

"Weaning can begin at four to six weeks of age."

For some cats which continue to grow after 12 months, the rate of growth after this point is much slower.

As a result, even if cats continue to grow for a short time after 12 months, this will not be a great change.

At about two years old, most cats are considered to be in the adult stage, meaning their growth would have stopped completely.

Important Milestones for Growing Cats

It is important to understand your cat's growth cycle in order to best care for a cat at different points.

From months three to four, their baby teeth will fall out and be replaced by adult teeth, after which kittens will then go through sexual maturation from four to nine months, which Dr. Elliott points to as the time to neuter.

She said: "Kittens lose their deciduous baby teeth and also reach puberty at around four months old, which is the age Cats Protection recommends that owners neuter their kittens to prevent any unwanted pregnancies."

A kitten is almost fully grown by nine to 12 months, before they are considered mature and entering their prime stage at two years old.

According to Pumpkin, from about 7-10 years of age, the cat is fully matured and may begin a little growth in the tummy area, which can be aided by gentle exercise.

Cats enter their senior stage at age 11, at which point some age-related issues can arise, and by 15, cats will have entered the geriatric stage, where they may suffer from tooth loss and will be much less active.

Some of the signs of aging in cats, according to Dr. Elliott, include:

  • disorientation
  • changes in social and environmental interaction
  • changes in sleeping/waking patterns, such as sleeping more during the day and being restless at night
  • vocalization
  • house soiling

As well as this, older cats can suffer from constipation, dental problems and deafness.

How To Care For Growing Kittens

According to U.K. charity Royal Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) many things need to be taken into account when caring for kittens, including feeding, appropriate hygiene, grooming, socializing, litter box training and maintaining a suitable environment for cats to live.

Before bringing a young kitten home, it will need to be vaccinated and trained to use a litter box, as well as socialized by introducing the kitten to people and new environments.

Dr. Elliott says you can socialize your cat by introducing them to different types of people from babies to adults, being gently touched and handled, and helping them get used to hearing different sounds.

It is important to also prepare your home by providing toys and space for kittens to move around in, removing hazards and even bringing a blanket from your kitten's first home to help it acclimatize.

Pet owners must also make sure they consult a vet and get pet insurance to ensure their cat has suitable professional care when needed.

In the early stages of a kitten's life, from eight to 12 weeks, they need small, regular meals, using similar or the same food to that which they previously ate in their former home.

Dr. Elliott added: "Kittens should have access to fresh water and be given commercial kitten food to ensure their nutritional needs are met.

"Their food should be checked and replaced at least four times daily. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and avoid giving more than the total daily recommended amount as this can lead to obesity."

They will also need to be introduced to other animals, people, environments such as cat carriers, as well as regular practices like undergoing grooming and health check-ups.

It is also good at this point to create boundaries and routines for cats to follow, to help them understand good and bad behavior.

From the 12-week period, owners should enquire with their vets about spaying and neutering, as well as worming if required.

It is also important to play with your kitten, and continue to establish routines through kitten training, so they can come to you when you call.

As growing is tiring, it is also important to let kittens rest and recharge after training sessions.

From six months, kittens are still learning, so continue to establish routines and build positive experiences for your cat.

At this point, cats may be needing to move onto a different diet, as by a year they will likely have stopped growing.

Dr. Elliott said: "The most rapid growth happens in the first four months, but we recommend owners feed a diet formulated for kittens until they are one year of age.

"After that, it's best to gradually switch over to a maintenance formula adult food, as your cat won't need the extra calories from the kitten diet anymore."

Young kitten at animal sanctuary
File photo of Milly, a 13-week-old kitten waiting to be re-homed at The Society for Abandoned Animals Sanctuary in Sale, Manchester. Follow our guide to care for kittens as they grow. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images