When Do Kittens Start Walking?

When Do Kittens Start Walking?

A kitten’s development is filled with wonder and excitement as they transform from tiny, fragile newborns into energetic, playful furballs. Among the many milestones that kittens achieve, one of the most captivating and impactful is when they take their first steps.

So, when do kittens start walking? And what should one do if a kitten doesn’t begin to walk within the anticipated time frame? We talked to veterinarians to get the scoop.  

Kitten Development: A Basic Timeline

To better understand when and how kittens start walking, it’s important to understand their overall growth and maturation. Below are essential milestones newborn kittens usually achieve in the first couple weeks of life, all of which pave the way for their first steps.

Birth to 1 Week Old 

Kittens are born with their eyes closed, ears folded, and umbilical cord attached. At this point, they cannot hear or see. They are entirely dependent on their mother for warmth, nourishment and direction. 

Around 4 to 5 days of age, kittens will naturally lose their umbilical cords, and around seven days, their ear canals will slowly begin to open. 

1 to 2 Weeks Old 

Around 7 to 10 days of age, kittens’ eyes will gradually begin to open, but their vision will be blurry at first. During this time, kittens might show some small movements, but they’re generally limited to wiggling around. 

By 2 weeks of age, a kitten’s eyes and ear canals will be fully open. Their ears will appear small and rounded, like a bear cub. 

At this stage, kittens start becoming more active and curious about their surroundings. They begin to crawl and scoot around on their bellies using their front legs, dragging their hind legs behind them. 

When Do Kittens Start to Walk?

Now that we’ve covered a kitten’s first few weeks, let’s get down to the question at hand: when do kittens start walking?

As a kitten’s coordination and strength improve, they’ll gradually begin to stand up on their legs. According to Dr. Alejandro Caos, a veterinarian with The Vets, kittens typically start attempting to walk between 2 to 3 weeks of age. 

The transition from crawling to walking is a bit wobbly, as kittens are still developing their motor skills. They might stumble, fall, and struggle to maintain balance. This is normal and not a cause for concern. “As kittens continue to develop, they will become more confident and steady on their feet,” says Dr. Caos. 

By around 4 to 5 weeks old, most kittens will be able to walk and run with more stability, and by 8 to 10 weeks old, they are typically fully capable of walking, running, and jumping with confidence and agility, says Dr. Caos. 

Kittens don’t usually need help from their mothers or caregivers when learning to walk, however, the mother cats do provide guidance and encouragement by acting as an example and nudging them toward food or the litter box. 

Kitten Walking Delays: When to Talk to a Vet

As with any living being, kittens may develop at different rates. Some may take a little longer to start walking or be wobbly for a bit longer. If your kitten’s overall health and growth seem normal, and they’re meeting other developmental milestones, a brief delay in walking might not be a cause for concern.

However, more drastic delays in walking or troubles with walking may indicate an underlying issue with the kitten’s muscles, joints, or nervous system. According to Dr. Alex Schechter, DVM and founder of Burwood Veterinary, common causes of walking delays or issues include injuries, infections, neurological disorders, and developmental abnormalities. 

Dr. Schechter says you should contact a veterinarian if the kitten is:

  • Significantly behind in walking milestones (i.e., not attempting to walk by 4 weeks old or still stumbling excessively at 6 to 8 weeks old) 
  • Showing signs of pain, weakness, or unusual gait while walking
  • Experiencing walking difficulties that persist or worsen

A veterinarian can perform a thorough exam and diagnostic testing to determine the cause of your kitten’s walking troubles. If necessary, they can also make treatment recommendations to address your kitten’s difficulties.

How Can Pet Parents Support a Kitten’s Walking Development? 

As kittens learn to walk, it’s important for caregivers and pet parents to create an environment that encourages and supports their development, without interfering with their natural progress. Here are some ways to help your kitten(s) foster their walking ability.

Ensure the kitten has enough space

Limited space or an overly crowded living area may hinder a kitten’s ability to explore and practice walking. Ensuring that kittens have a safe, clean, and spacious environment free from potential hazards can encourage proper growth and development.

Introduce age-appropriate toys

Toys that encourage movement and play can help kittens develop their motor skills and coordination. Good options are feather wands or a small ball toy. 

Practice walking on different surfaces

Expose kittens to various textures and surfaces, such as carpet, tile, or wood. This can help improve their coordination and adaptability.

Engage in social play

If possible, allow kittens to play with each other, as this can help them develop their motor skills and learn essential social behaviors.

Monitor interactions with other pets

If you have other pets at home, supervise their interactions to ensure the kitten doesn’t get overwhelmed or injured.

Feed a kitten-appropriate diet

Proper nutrition is essential for a kitten’s growth and development. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to weakened muscles, making it difficult for kittens to walk. Work with your veterinarian  to ensure that your kitten is receiving a high-quality, balanced, and age-appropriate diet to promote healthy growth and development.

Nurturing Your Kitten’s Growth and Development

Understanding the timeline of kitten development and knowing when to expect them to start walking is essential for caregivers. Always monitor a kitten’s overall health and development, and if you have any concerns or notice any unusual symptoms, consult your veterinarian for professional guidance.

By being patient and attentive, and providing the appropriate care, you can help a new kitten flourish as they embark on their journey to becoming a confident and healthy adult cat.

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