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 twelve week old kittens do all day.
- 12 week old kitten size
- Caring for a 12 week old kitten
- 12 week old kitten food and feeding
- Normal behavior for a 12 week old kitten
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.
12 Week Old Kitten Guide
A 12 week old kitten can be a handful. We are going to help you understand their needs at this important developmental stage, so that you can help them to settle happily into your home.
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.
The size of your kitten at 12 weeks will depend partly on his breed or type. There are some breeds of cat who are destined to be big, and naturally, they will be bigger as kittens too.
- Maine Coon
- Norwegian Forest Cat
- Ragdoll cat
- Burmese cat
- Bengal cat
- Savannah cat
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.
Your kitten still needs high quality kitten food to fuel his growth. 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:
Make sure that there is a scratching post in easy reach of your kitten at all times. 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.
If your kitten has just arrived in your home, keeping him restricted in a fairly small area with a litter box and scratch post to hand will help him settle in smoothly.
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
By twelve weeks, I had discovered ‘freeze dried food’ and started buying them for Billy to use for training treats. 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.
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. Unlikepuppies, 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
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.
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!
Loved your article. Fits my 12 week old kitten exactly. Thank you
Thanks Melody, and good luck with your kitten 🙂
Excellent advice, all the answers in one article
Hit the nail on the head when describing my 12-13 week old kitten. Poor thing had cat flu when he was adopted, so only now seeing the cute craziness 🙂
My 12 week old Ferrell cat Kia is just as you described. Demon and darling. Yesterday she was spayed and we had a very peaceful evening and day. Now she’s back to normal and trying to consume bubbles from the bath tub!
This has been incredibly helpful, I’m getting my new 10 week old kitty in a week. I’m so excited! Thanks for the straightforward advice! ?
This was very helpful! My 12 week old Leo looks exactly like your Billy . . . so adorable!!
Michelle Wood says
Really good read. I have a 12 week old girl called Tilly and have an adult girl called Pixie however is it quite normal for Pixie to swipe at Tilly most of the time. I’m stressed more than them any advice will help pleaseeeeee.
[email protected] says
Totally agree with all 12 week kitten behavior. When our kitten, Mango, was 12 weeks old, he was just like this. He is now 6 months old so has calmed down a bit and is a little more cuddly. He also doesn’t bite as much. Yay! We are getting a 12 week old kitten to keep Mango company. When we visited him at the shelter he was just like Mango. His name is Ron and he looks just like your Billy.
Christine Batt says
I was getting a bit worried, as our little Pickle seems to be a Jekyll and Hyde. At the same time each day he is like a Tasmanian Devil, flying around anything biting anyone silly enough to try to stop him. Then he’s loving and wanting cuddles once the 20 minutes of lunacy has passed. Reading your article has proved he’s normal for his age. Thank you for putting my mind at rest.
Your little Pickle sounds just like my little Blue! I’m constantly looking at her run around and saying “what’s wrong with you?” LOL
May P says
This article fits my 12 weeks old SiameseSnowshoe named Legolas perfectly. I got him when he was 7 weeks old and he has been crazy ever since. Spontaneous sprints and need to bite constantly was something I was aware of but as he grew closer to 10 weeks, I was a little worried about feeding him wet food more than once or twice a day. But now he is perfectly eating a good mix of food.
This article was great help for my kitten thank you for writting it.P.S. billy and my kitten Simba look identicle
Getting my kitten next week. I’ve only had 1 cat before that I adopted at 6 months. This is really helpful.
Kimberley Scott says
Hi thank you for the helpful tips! My kitten is soon to be 13 weeks old. She is a calico with big soft brown eyes and is part Siamese (father) and part Calico. (mother) She is extremely hyper and at times hard to control. Presently I am not working so our mornings start at 11 am sometimes earlier. I give her time outs (ten min sometimes a little more) depending on how destructive she is being. I notice she learns quickly but chooses not to listen during the times I stop playing with her. Last night after her 3rd timeout. I firmly told her to be nice. I picked her up to praise and cuddle her and she tried to either scratch or bite me. So I put her back in time out (under a laundry basket) and after she listened and was quiet. I put her to bed. She also doesn’t eat 1/2 a cup of Whiskas dry food 2 times a day much less then what you suggested and sleeps 10 hrs yet she is very healthy. I would really appreciate some more tips (her behavior) and I will switch to wet food. When I do this will it cause any tummy upset?
You put your cat under a laundry basket for “time outs” and are asking why you are experiencing behaviour problems?! Honestly…
I just got my kitty, Charlotte, today. She is a 12 week old rescue and I adore her! Your site is so informative and helpful as this is the first time I have had a kitty as a pet. Thank you so much for all the helpful advice. I will continue to visit! 🙂
I have never owned a cat so it was quite daunting when I bought a 6 week old kitten 4 weeks ago ,called him Pepsi .. He is growing fast and at 10 weeks old he starting to scratch and bite my fingers !!!! Pepsi is becoming more crazy and started a catch and fetch game with me bringing a ball to me which I thought was a dog’s trait not a cat’s ??? Maybe Pepsi is confused what animal he is ..He sleeps in my bed every night even though I bought him a beautiful bed to sleep in. Also he has never used the scratching post I bought for him so I’m concerned how. to train him to use it instead of using my furniture. Any advice would be appreciated…Great article and blog by the way; very informative.Thsnks
Wait what if u have 3 kittens and since they were babies is it fine that they play fight with each other and also Would it be fine for them to share the same dish of food
Kristy Bright says
Thank you. Its been about 23 years since I have had a cat. I needed some reminders.
This was very informative.
Maria Strevens says
Very helpful advice, l was beginning to think our almost twelve week old Ragdol/Maine coon kitten, had a bit of the devil in her, it’s so reassuring to know it is normal kitten behaviour, and will hopefully grow out of it. Thank you so much.
Sarie Cross says
Our new kitten is just like Billy! He’s certainly finding his feet – and using his claws and teeth- whilst purring loudly. We are gradually trying to introduce our dogs but it’s going to take time and patience. We have to play with them in shifts … which means they all get less time than I would like.
Get another kitten. You will be so happy you did. No more “shifts”
Dana Walker says
My orange male Tabby kitten Furby will be 1e weeks old tomorrow. I’m so thankful to have found the happy cat. I’ve never owned a cat or a dog before. I love my Furby. I had finally realized to try not to move my hand in front of him. He does pounce onto my face and puts his mouth over my nose when I’m in bed. I have to cover myself up from head to toe when I first lay down. When he does lay no me I say “no Furby, no” and it seems to me that he understands what I’m saying. Thank you.
Dana Walker says
12 weeks old*
Get another kitten. Everything will change for the better.
My partner and I work between 9-5 and I’m worried about leaving my 13 week kitten at home.. Any tips? I will probably be able to make it a 7 hour day, but is this OK?
Thank you for the information!
I rescued a stray Tortie a month ago after my friend found her stranded by a road before a big typhoon. The vet estimated she was about two months old at that time, so she is probably about 12-13 weeks old now. It sounds like she is a bit smaller than Billy was, but since she has more than doubled her weight in one month, I think she must be a healthy size for a little girl. She is sooooo sweet. Sometimes she gets overexcited like you say, but if I pick her up and put her in her room for about 15 minutes, she calms down again. She gets more and more snuggly all the time, and I am so happy. She doesn’t seem at all feral, but no one seems to be missing her. She likes to sit on my shoulder while I walk around doing chores, intently watching everything I do. The only thing that bothers me about her snuggles is that she gives me love bites on my nose… they are often pretty painful, and once she completely surprised me by lunging to bite my lip, ouch! I am trying to figure out how to set boundaries like that she isn’t allowed behind the fridge.
I feel emboldened after reading about Billy, thanks for your articles!!
“Get another kitten”? two together will drive you to drink.
I dunno, the 3 year old we had was a monster. We were taking care of babies when we lost our 19 year old cat to kidney failure, so we decided to keep one of the babies. He’s been a double blessing for us, he gives us something to focus on besides dwelling on our 19 year old’s loss and he’s kept the 3 year old so busy she doesn’t have the energy to drive us up a wall any more. She’s lost weight and is more snuggly and appreciates cuddles now and the little guy has a home where he’ll be loved and spoiled rotten instead of taking a chance and trusting someone else with him.
Sabina Pamfili says
I can feel the love that you show in your article for cats. I am going to pick up my little Burmese kitty next week and cannot wait to hold her, especially since I lost my Burmese in November. I cannot live without her and found your article totally wonderful.
A sincere Thank you. Very informative and helpful.
Billy looks exactly like my 12 week old oliver. I named him that because he was an orphan kitten who came to live with 3 dogs. He has a kennel to sleep in and is a crazy cat. I haven’t had a kitten in at least 13 years so its pretty fun. Thank you for the info it has helped a lot.
Jackie Bowling says
We usually have adopted older cats but got an 8 !/2 year old about 3 weeks ago. We really didn’t know what to expect. Your article has helped us so much. Thank you.
Hello, I have a 10-12 week old Calico kitten named Sadee, I got here when she was about 4weeks old, sometimes I feel like giving up it’s a bit much and I have not slept well since 3/25/2021 she is very adorable but have been thinking about giving her away. My daughter is not happy with my thoughts and that make it more difficult to do.
She is a good kitty but just get into so much and love going under the bed and bathtub and going behind the stove.
The smell of her being in the apartment sometime overwhelms me we clean the litter 2-3times a day and use Purina Tidy Cat w/Glade (think I will switch to arm & hammer clumping to see if that help).
It is a work in progress and she is due for her first temperament shot 4/16/2021 can you give more advise as to what to expect and how to feel towards her.
My kitten, Zora, is getting worse at wanting to snap at and bite my face. Any suggestions?
Thank you for the advice. I just picked up a 12wy yr old kitty(female) and she as adorable. Her name” Isabella”. So far she is on Q with your advice. I scheduled to see a vet for the first time next week. Thanks again and Happy Holidays!!!!