If you have a tabby cat (or any cat for that matter), you know just how much of a joy they are to have. They run around, play with you, show plenty of affection and truly love life! Whether it’s a tabby pattern cat or not, cats are all unique and have different growth timelines and life expectancies.
Because each cat is different, I decided to compile as much research as I can into this helpful guide. This guide is geared towards tabby cats but will get you to show you what to expect at certain ages and sizes. We’ll break down everything from the newborn kitten stage all the way through adulthood and the final stages of a cat’s life. I’ll also share with you some common health issues in domestic cats that you may run into during specific stages of the growth timeline.
The first stage of any cat’s life is the newborn kitten stage. This is when they are first discovering who they are and what they can do. Kittens begin developing their eyesight, forming their own unique eye pigment, learning how to be vocal, and how to hear. They also discover purring as well as begin building trust with the owners.
When a kitten is born into a litter, usually with other kittens, it will be extremely weak at this stage. They will participate in a lot of nursing with the mother cat as they build their strength and try to add some weight. Their primary source of food outside of nursing will be kitten formula. Kitten formula such as KMR Liquid Milk Replacement contains all the essential vitamins and minerals to help them grow into strong and healthy cats.
A newborn kitten will usually take a full 7 – 8 weeks before it’s put on it’s first few pounds of weight. A newborn kitten will only weigh between 2 – 6 ounces initially! The larger breeds will weigh on the higher end of the spectrum, but on average newborn kittens weigh between 3.5 to 3.75 ounces right at birth. That’s somewhere between 80 – 150 grams in weight! If there are many kittens in the litter, the newborn kitten will weigh less because of resources. If there are fewer kittens in the litter, the newborn kitten will weigh more.
What you’ll notice about newborn kittens is that they do gain weight quickly once they begin feeding. A newborn kitten will weigh considerably more by its second week in existence. It’s not uncommon to see them nearly double their weight within the first week. If you are planning to feed the newborn kitten yourself, it’s important you limit their food intake.
Young cats are notorious for eating a lot, so limiting the food intake between 8 to 10 grams per day should be just fine. Overfeeding kittens can cause a wealth of problems. This includes issues such as:
Below is a typical feeding chart to accompany the first few weeks of a newborn kittens’ life. The chart will show you what to expect in their weight development over that period of time.
|Kitten Age||Kitten Weight||Daily Formula To Feed||Feedings Per Day|
|1 Week||3.5 ounces||32 cc||4 to 6|
|2 – 3 Weeks||7 – 10 ounces||56 – 80 cc||3 to 4|
|4 – 5 Weeks||12 ounces – 1 pound||104 – 128 cc||3|
As you can see from the chart, newborn kittens need to be fed multiple times per day; sometimes up to 5 – 6 times! As the kitten ages, you’ll be able to reduce the number of feeding sessions they need.
Once they get between 10 ounces to 1 pound in weight, they should be eating at least 3 times per day. Kittens will primarily eat formula at this point, and as the amount of feeding sessions reduces, the total amount of formula actually increases.
It’s best to try and feed the kitten in even increments throughout the day. Feeding times should also be consistent so they can develop a routine and you can anticipate when they will be hungry again. A newborn kitten should eat every 2 to 3 hours during their first 3 – 5 weeks of life.
Two To Six Months Old
Somewhere at the beginning of the second month, your kitten will be able to start learning how to use the litter box. This is really achieved by watching the mother cat and developing those instincts over time. They’ll also be walking with more confidence than before although they still might be shaky in their approach. Kittens are quick learners though, and will eventually develop the balance needed to walk comfortably. During this stage, a lot of exploration takes place.
Around the 7 to 8-week mark, kittens should weigh between 1 to 2 pounds. That might seem small, but considering that most cats only ever weigh 6 to 12 pounds in weight means they are growing quite quickly!
Kittens will typically have a larger appetite compared to adult cats. It’s not uncommon to find yourself feeding a kitten multiple meals per day as their bodies grow.
At this point, especially in the second and third months, your kitten will need its first round of shots. Kittens should be getting vaccinations every three to four weeks until they are around five or six months old. The vaccinations can be more spread out after that period. Kitten vaccinations are vital because they help protect against common diseases. If you have a specific breed that is more likely to catch a certain disease, then they may need additional vaccinations beyond the core group.
Below is a few fo the common diseases that kitten vaccinations will help prevent against:
- Feline rhinotracheitis
- Feline Calicivirus
- Feline panleukopenia
In general, vaccinations don’t always come cheap. Usually, a vet will want to perform an initial assessment on your kitten which will add an additional cost to the vaccinations.
Below is a suggested kitten vaccination schedule for the first 16 weeks of their lives:
|Vaccine||When To Administer Vaccine|
|Feline Herpesvirus||No earlier than 6 weeks old. Will require 1 to 2 more dosages afterward.|
|Calicivirus||Suggested at 6 weeks of age.|
|FelV||Given at 8 weeks. Requires another dosage 1 month later.|
|Rabies||Requires 1 dosage no earlier than 8 weeks of age. Yearly checkup recommended.|
|Panleukopenia||Given at 8 weeks|
|Bordetella||One of the first vaccinations given at 4 weeks of age. Will need annual checkup.|
Six Months To Ten Months Old
At the sixth month point, your cat will have packed on quite a bit of weight. This will be around the 24 – 25-week mark, and your cat should weigh anywhere from 5 to 8 pounds. Your cat’s weight at this juncture is important because they are somewhere between 50 – 75% of what their final adult weight would be. Again, this is all dependent on the breed and genetic makeup of your cat, but this is just an average.
The appearance of your cat is something to take note of. Although they may look like adults, they are very much still considered kittens. You can tell because the torso will still be thin and tall. The legs will also still be on the thin side compared to an adult cat. Their teeth will also be much larger at this point which is another indicator of proper growth.
At this point, it’s vital that the cat is receiving regular checkups at the vet. This is the point in which they’ll need important vaccinations at various points in their growth. While the cat is still growing, this is also the point in time when getting them neutered or spayed is appropriate. Of course, you’ll want to check all of this with the vet to make sure the cat has developed appropriately and is ready for the procedure.
Female cats who are not spayed are at risk of getting pregnant if there are male cats also in the home. Cat pregnancy carries its own separate track of growth and weight gain and behavioral patterns. Read more about how to take care of a pregnant cat here.
In the seventh and eighth months you can expect your cat to exhibit the following behaviors:
- Increased sleep patterns
- Spraying (if they are not yet neutered or spayed)
- Increased social behavior
- Deeper vocal tone
- A better demonstration of intelligence
- Increased physical abilities
- Increased appetite
The biggest thing you’ll notice is the physical development of the cat. They’ll begin discovering their ability to jump higher, run faster, and take more calculated risks. Your cat will also become more social with other pets in the house if you have any.
At this point, it’s important that you set ground rules and make a strong impression on them early. If there’s something you don’t like them doing, then you need to train them to avoid those objects. Providing scratching pads, cat toys, and using deterrent sprays or noises can help with this. Once a cat has developed a routine, it’s really hard to work them out of that mindset as they age.
Their teeth will also be nearing the completion of development, so you can begin offering them different types of food to eat. Sometimes it takes nine to ten months for their baby teeth to be fully gone. The teething stage can be tricky and you might notice your cat trying to bite just about everything they can. Cat’s need to be trained what to bite and what not to bite at this age; especially if it becomes aggressive.
There are plenty of cat teething chew toys and ropes that can help greatly with this. I recommend these chewing ropes because they last long. Also using catnip on a play toy can help them get some of the chewing out of their system.
It’s best to ease your cat into adult cat food with a balance of wet and dry food. Try to find foods that are not too tough on the teeth if they are still developing. Adult cat foods that are protein-rich have high moisture ratios work best. Moving your cat into adult food too fast can cause common health issues like diarrhea.
Eleven Months To Twelve Months Old
Your kitten has grown into a beautiful adult cat at this point. All the vaccinations should be complete and they will have grown significantly from their litter days. These last two months are important because the cat is going to essentially be fully grown. They will have reached the ideal weight and size that they will carry for the majority of their lives. Some cats will grow slower than others, and some breeds won’t ever get too big, to begin with.
Cats should be fully transitioned to an adult cat food diet by now. They will also be quite active in exploring their surroundings and be social. It’s important to remember that although cats may look physically grown, their brains are still maturing. A lot of adolescent behavior will still be present. At this point, the owner should be training and reinforcing good behavior on a consistent basis as it will be difficult to rectify later.
Prime Years Of Cat Life
The prime years for a cat are considered to be between 3 and 6 years of age. This is when they will be the most active and develop their personalities. Because your cat is so active at this age, it’s important to pique their interest on a regular basis. Boredom can be an issue with cats this age, and they may likely take out that frustration on your furniture, carpets, windowsills and other valuables. Here are a few toys for cats that I recommend trying out at this stage. Some of the toys on that list are store-bought, but there are also homemade toys you can try.
At this point, they should have their core vaccines and be considered adult cats. They will need shots every year to a couple of years after this point to boost those vaccines. If your cat is at a high-risk for a disease, then the shots will likely be annual. It’s important to keep up with regular vet checkups. Most cat owners tend to think their cat is entirely healthy, however, they are just as vulnerable to issues.
The most common health issue tabby cats and others will face at this stage will be dental disease. They can start experiencing tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, and more. The food they eat can be one of the many causes of dental issues, but genetics is also likely a cause. This is not an area to neglect as dental issues can cause serious ramifications down the line.
Later Years Of Cat Life
As a cat begins to age, they will start to experience more complications. It’s important that cats receive yearly checkups at the vet and get tests for a variety of diseases and health conditions. The later years are around 7 – 10 years of age. The human equivalent will be somewhere between 40 – 50 years in age.
This is the period of time when your once active cat will start to slow down in their physical activity. Stimulating them is important because without constant physical activity they will start to gain weight; sometimes considerably.
Senior Years Of Cat Life
Much like dog ages quickly, so does a cat. Around this point, your cat should be 10 years old which is somewhere between 60 – 70 years in human years. That’s quite old!
The senior years of a cat’s life can either be really enjoyable for them or really painful. Much of this is dependent on how well they are taken care of in the early stages of life.
Still, cats’ bodies do wear down with age. They can develop all types of physical issues such as arthritis, obesity, poor vision, and poor balance. Diseases will be harder to fight against without serious medical attention. The lack of physical activity can be particularly troublesome as you try to help your cat maintain a healthy weight balance. Your cat may also require a change in diet so they can get certain nutrients and vitamins to help them function well at this age.
The senior years of a cat can vary, but once they get to around 15 years of age then that is considered a huge milestone. This also comes with more complications. Cats 15 years or older will likely experience serious behavioral changes. This can include changes in how their meow vocalization sounds, lack of awareness, and even refusal to use the litter box properly.
Your cat will likely move very slowly and start experiencing some serious physical ailments at this point. The checkups with the vet will likely become more frequent and the expenses will start to add up. If the optics are not looking good, it may be more humane to have a discussion with the vet about helping your cat transition peacefully.
Common Questions About Tabby Cat Growth
Now that you’ve got a good understanding of how a tabby cat can grow and a basic timeline, you might have some other questions. Below are a few common questions most domestic cat owners have.
How Big Do Tabby Cats Get?
When someone asks about how big a tabby cat gets, they are usually referring to any adult domestic shorthair cat with patterns in their fur. Remember, the term tabby actually refers to the coat pattern, so it’s not actually a breed of cat. Considering the size of a cat depends mostly on breed and genetics, the real question should be “how big do domestic cats get?”.
Some domestic cats can get as big as 16 inches in height while others might only get as big as 8 inches. The average height of an adult cat will be somewhere between 9.1 – 9.8 inches. Compared to a dog that’s quite small as dogs average between 6 – 44 inches!
If you’re wondering how heavy tabby cats can get, the numbers also continue to vary. The average adult cat can get up to around 8 – 12 pounds in weight. Some breeds weigh less, and some breeds weigh considerably more.
In general, female cats will weigh less than male cats on average. Male cats typically weigh 2 – 4 pounds heavier than their female counterparts. Male domestic cats weigh between 10 – 12 pounds on average. Female domestic cats weigh between 6 – 12 pounds. Some of the larger breeds will tip the weight scale in the heavier direction. Below is a list of the heaviest cats that also feature the tabby coat pattern:
- Siberian (considered the largest of the cat breeds)
- Turkish Van
- British Shorthair
- Egyptian Mau
- Norwegian Forest Cat
- American Bobtail
Do tabby cats stay small?
While many cats get larger over time, some of them do have a growth cap. Part of it has to do with whether they are a male or female cat, and part of it is genetics. Generally speaking, there are certain breeds known for being on the smaller side:
- Russian Blue
- Cornish Rex
- Devon Rex
If you have a cat not listed in the breeds above, then there may be another issue at hand. Cats who are not getting enough nutrients will obviously grow at a slower rate. Genetics or underlying disease can cause a stunt in cat growth, so reaching out to a vet is crucial. A vet can help determine if your cat has a condition and requires a prescription diet.
How fast do tabby cats grow?
Based on the above timeline, you can see that tabby cats grow at the same pace as any other domestic cat. Each cat will go through the newborn kitten stage which lasts around 2 – 12 months. In that period of time, they start to put on some weight, gain their footing and develop their character.
After that, the cat will go through some rapid growth with an increased appetite into their junior years of life. Eventually, your cat will cycle through midlife and it’s senior years. The entire growth cycle of a cat’s life can be anywhere from 10 – 15 years. Some cats can actually reach beyond 15 years old although they will be a shell of their former selves.
Most of that growth in a cat is going to take place in just the first 2 to 3 years. The weight they gain as kittens especially doubles at almost a weekly week. Around 16 weeks old, cats start to settle in a more predictable weight gain pattern. By this point, they will have all of the required vaccinations and should be on an adult cat food diet shortly after.
Cats who overeat may end up gaining weight at an unhealthy weight. Kittens especially will always try to protest for more food, so it’s important that owners be strict with the diet. If they are fed too much, they may not be able to effectively handle the weight gain and have physical issues early on. As a cat’s frame grows and strengthens, then they can start to eat a bit more.