A 12 week old kitten is great fun, but they can also be a handful.
Understanding their needs at this important developmental stage can help them to settle happily into your home.
12 Week Old Kitten Guide
This is your guide to the 12 week old kitten.
You’ll find out how to solve common kitten problems such as biting
And discover what 12 week old kittens do all day.
We'll also show you how to care for your kitten
And how to give him a great start in life.
We’ll be looking at 12 week old kitten size and weight
And at how much and how often to feed a twelve week old kitten.
You can compare your kitten’s progress with my Billy (below!) and enjoy some cute kitten photos while you read.
This is Billy at twelve weeks.
He’s starting to lose that very new baby fluff ball look and you can start to get an idea of the kind of cat he is going to be in a few months time.
12 week old kitten size
Kittens grow a lot between 8 and 12 weeks.
If your kitten has been in the family since he was 8 weeks old, he’ll have changed a lot.
He’ll be significantly sturdier and more confident than he was when you bought him home to live with you a month ago.
Many pedigree kittens don’t go to their new homes until they are 12 weeks old.
If this is your first kitten, or first kitten for a long time, even at 12 weeks, your kitten will still seem very small to begin with.
You will still need to take some precautions as you adjust to having this tiny creature dancing around your feet.There are some breeds of cat who are destined to be big, and naturally, they will be bigger as kittens too.
Check out our cat breeds section for more a closer look at breed specific information on your new friend.
12 week old kitten weight
Every cat is different of course.
But as a very broad guideline, the average cat will reach a weight of 10lbs or so before his first birthday.
To get to that point, your kitten will put on around a pound in weight each month from the age of 8 weeks when he probably weighed in at around 2lbs
So 12 week old kitten weight is usually about 3lb.
Again, this is a broad guideline, for example a Maine Coon kitten like this beauty, is going to weigh a bit more than that.
12 week old kitten care
Kittens at 12 weeks old will usually have developed some personality and a lot of confidence.
But they still need plenty of care and guidance from you.
And he needs access to veterinary check ups and vaccinations that will protect him from disease as he grows.
This is especially important if your kitten is to be allowed outdoors when he is older
A twelve week old kitten needs some help learning to play nicely and to discover where he is allowed to go and what he is allowed to do.
You’ll still need to be vigilant in ensuring he can easily reach his litter box at all times.
And that he has somewhere to scratch that won’t cause him to come into conflict with his family.
The right toys can make a big difference:
If you don't want to pay for a scratching post you can make one out of a post wrapped with tightly wound string.
Every cat and kitten needs one as scratching is a biological need and an instinctive behavior found in all cats.
But if you have had him for a month or so, then your kitten will probably know his way around your home by now.
What to feed kittens at 12 weeks old
If you have just bought your 12 week old kitten home, you will need to make a decision about his diet.
You can buy dried food, which stores well and is relatively light to carry.
Or you can buy wet food in cans, trays or pouches.
Ideal 12 week old kitten diet
We always recommend that you feed young cats on wet food.
This is because some cats fed on dry food fail to keep themselves sufficiently hydrated and develop bladder problems as a result.
Male cats like Billy are especially susceptible to these problems, and wet food will help protect them and keep them healthy.
Your 12 week old cat still needs kitten food, don’t switch to adult cat food yet, it doesn’t have sufficient nutrients to fuel your cat’s rapid growth at this age.
We recommend that you buy the best food that you can afford and avoid the lower protein cat food that contain a lot of grain.
Although foods with less protein in are cheaper, you’ll need to feed more in order to get the same nutrients into your kitten.
All those extra fillers aren’t fully digested and will end up in your kitten’s litter box
These are 100% meat and kittens love them.
We mainly used them for teaching Billy to come when he is called.
The myth that cats cannot be trained, by the way, is completely untrue.
Billy has a better recall than some dogs!
Really important if you intend to let your cat go outdoors when he is older!
How much to feed a kitten at 12 weeks
Billy’s total consumption at twelve weeks was 7 and a quarter ounces a day.
A large breed cat might need half as much again at this age.
Use the quantities on the can or pouch as a guideline and adjust them in order to prevent your kitten getting too fat, or too thin.
Is my kitten gaining enough weight?
You should be able to feel your kitten’s ribs if you press firmly along his sides but you certainly don’t want to be seeing those ribs through his fur.
And you shouldn’t be able to feel the knobbles along your kitten's spine when you stroke him.
If you have any concerns about your kitten’s weight at this age, do have a chat with your veterinarian.
A healthy kitten will be full of energy and life, even if he doesn’t eat as much as you think he should.
Failure to gain weight, listlessness, or feeling thin and bony, needs investigating.
How often to feed kittens 12 weeks old
You can now drop down from four meals a day to three when your kitten is twelve weeks old.
This means feeding bigger quantities at each mealtime to make sure that your kitten is still getting his daily allowance.
To avoid upset tummies, go easy on the portion sizes while your kitten adjusts to the new schedule.
At 12 weeks, Billy was eating the following meals
- 8 am – just over 2 and 1/2 ounces (75g)
- 1pm – 3 ounces (85g)
- 6pm - 1 and 3/4 ounces (50g)
Try not to worry about exact weights and quantities of food. It isn’t an exact science.
Your 12 week kitten will be just fine if you follow the basic guidelines outlined above and he is putting on weight and having fun!
Feeding isn’t the only concern of course and at 12 weeks old some kittens are starting to get a bit rough with their play.
So let’s take a look at that
12 week old kitten biting
The first thing to recognize is that biting and scratching are a normal part of play for kittens.
They grow out of it in time.
But in the meantime, the first rule of playing with kittens is to keep your hands well away from their mouths and feet.
Especially when they are in a playful mood.
And you may need to keep your hands away from your kitten's tummy too. Even when he seems relaxed
Unlike puppies, most kittens either dislike having their tummies rubbed, or see it as a direct invitation to start a play fight.
Try to keep play time and relax time distinct and separate.
And when you do play with your kitten, don’t play with your hands.
Pick him up when he is relaxed and ready for a cuddle, not when he is looking for a play fight!
That way, he won't get into the habit of biting your fingers
Suitable toys for Biting 12 week old kittens
Toys can really help reduce a kitten’s inclination to bite.
Some of the best interactive toys for kittens at this age are fishing rod style toys that are made out of a plastic or wooden stick.
They have a long string attached to the end and a toy on the end of the string.
These are essential equipment for small children if you want them to interact with a kitten without getting hurt.
One per child is the best plan.
The second rule of playing with kittens is to keep interactive play sessions short and sweet.
A 12 week old kitten can get very over excited in a short space of time.
So play for a bit, then stop the game and let your kitten unwind or have a nap.
Kittens are also pretty good at entertaining themselves so if your kitten is in a very spikey mood, let him work off his energy on a catnip toy mouse.
Toys like the mouse above provide hours of entertainment for kittens without putting your fingers in harm’s way.
We buy packs of chew mice for Billy.
They are cheap and it doesn't matter if he eventually shreds or loses them, or if the dogs steal them!
Here he is at 12 weeks old, making his own entertainment with a fast game of 'don't let the mouse touch the ground'
Litter training your 12 week old kitten
Pretty much every 12 week old kitten arrives fully litter box trained.
That is to say they know what a litter box is and happily use one they are familiar with
If you’ve just bought your kitten home, make sure he is near his new litter box at all times for the first few days.
And start off by using the same litter he was raised on.
That way it will quickly become second nature for him to use his new box.
Keeping the kitten in one room (with a litter box) and gradually extending access to the rest of the house a bit at a time is the way to go.
This is what we did with Billy.
He has never had an accident in our home, and that is fairly normal and achievable if you take this in easy steps.
What does a kitten at 12 weeks do all day - 12 week old kitten behavior
At 12 weeks your new kitten will still sleep a lot, but when he is awake, he’ll play hard too.
He will already be learning to be gentle some of the time.
You’ll see him keep his claws in on your lap, or refrain from biting.
Other times his excitement will run away with him and you will have to stay well clear.
12 weeks is a peak time for playfulness and you’ll get great value from toys with a kitten this age.
After he’s calmed down from a period of playing and been relaxing a while, it’s the best time to give him a cuddle or a pet.
12 week kitten - exploring your home
Once your kitten has settled in and is using his litter box reliably, you’ll want to extend his access to more of your home.
At 12 weeks Billy was enjoying the freedom of much of our house, and making his presence felt in the dog basket!
Remember to make sure that your kitten can get access to his litter box at all times.
If family members shut the door to the room with the litter box in, accidents are going to happen.
If you have dogs, you’ll probably find that they try to eat cat poop. It’s a dog thing.
We used a device to give Billy access to his litter box while preventing the dogs from paying a visit!
It's a little door that simply prevents any dog that is a little larger than your cat from following him through the gap.
Keeping a litter box in your home is really the only downside to having a cat indoors, and most of us find keeping one well attended a big of a drag.
There is now another option.
We've recently discovered self cleaning litter boxes.
If you are finding the whole litter box experience a chore, check out our review of automatic litter boxes.
They clean themselves, only need emptying occasionally, and take a lot of the work out of keeping an indoor cat or kitten
12 week kitten - vaccinations and vet checks
Don’t forget to take your kitten to the vet for his vaccinations when they are due.
If you are in the USA he’ll need his second shots around this time and the third about a month later.
Your vet may chat to you about neutering at this appointment and that’s something you need to start thinking about now.
And about whether or not your kitten is going to be allowed to go outdoors when he is older.
If your kitten is going to be a cat that is allowed access to outdoors, then neutering is essential.
All unsupervised, un-neutered cats will start breeding at some point during the second half of their first year of life.
Whether or not letting your kitten outdoors is a good idea depends on where you live.
In some areas the number of predators makes life outdoors very risky for a cat.
In others it is much safer.
In the UK for example, almost all cats (apart from valuable purebred cats) are allowed outdoors eventually.
However, at 12 weeks your kitten is not well-equipped to take care of himself, so we recommend you keep him indoors for a few more months.
This vet checks for booster shots are great opportunities to chat with your vet about any concerns you may have.
Your 12 week old kitten
At 12 weeks a kitten is an amazing companion, by turns both adorable, and a little crazy.
There will be times when your kitten gets excited and bites or scratches, but provide plenty of 'hands free' entertainment and you'll survive the worst of the crazy times.
There will also be times when your kitten relaxes and when you can stroke him and enjoy a cuddle.
Even at 12 weeks kittens are learning to be incredibly gentle.
Billy was already beginning to keep his claws retracted when he patted at our faces and hands .
Here he is, being adorable, and helping Lucy to write one of our cat articles.
Have fun with your 12 week old kitten, and enjoy this magical time - it goes by so fast.
And don’t forget to let us know how you get on in the comments box below!
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