Somewhere around four months, your kitten may start losing his baby teeth, as the adult teeth develop. His gums may be painful, and this would be an excellent time to start a program of dental care, by gently massaging his gums with gauze. Plastic drinking straws are also a proven aid to teething, and make for great interactive play with your kitten.
Kittens will start establishing their place in the "social ranking order" of your house during this time. It is not unusual to see a kitten "challenge" the alpha cat, which usually will earn the hapless youngster a cuff on the ears. Other cats, depending on their own social position and personalities, may defer to the kitten. Your kitten is still growing during this time, and it is not unusual to see a previously plump fluffball of a kitten suddenly grow long and lanky - then taller - and finally flesh out again. Kittens should continue to eat kitten food during this phase of growth - they need the additional nutrients for strong bones, health teeth and supple muscles.
Health Reminder:Your kitten can, and should, be spayed or neutered between three and six months. Cats' sexual maturity can vary, and both female and male kittens as young as four or five months have been known to become sexually active. Although some veterinarians still suggest waiting until six months, advocates of early spay and neuter are proving the benefits of that practice.
Six to Twelve Months
My, how time flies! Your kitten is starting to show the physical and social traits of a fully grown cat. No wonder - by the age of 12 months, he will have attained the physical growth of a 15 year old human teenager, and he will undoubtedly start showing some of the same personality attributes of that age. Don't allow yourself to brood over hurt feelings if your kitten doesn't seem as responsive to you. Like a human teenager, he is testing the waters of adulthood to see what it feels like. He is also playing a "dominance" game with you, just as he might with another cat or kitten. Be patient with him and give him all the affection and love he will take, but do it on his terms. I guarantee that he will come around when he is ready to stop playing "big guy."
Your feline youngster will continue to grow and develop for another year, and some breeds (Maine Coons are a notable one) are not fully developed for four years.
Whatever the ultimate size of your cat, don't lose site of the fact that his overall health and well-being are of prime importance.
Documenting His Growth with Photos
This is one of the most enjoyable aspects of kitten "parenthood," that of recording his growth with photos. If there is any way you can afford one, I'd suggest using a digital recorder, to capture the inimitable action of a kitten at play. You can not only produce movies with it, but your can clip out frames for still photos. Proud of your growing furball? Share your photos with my readers by sending them to me using the photo submittal guidelines.
Enjoy your kitten's first year, and he will continue to provide unconditional love for many, many years to come!