Kittens, adopted around 2-3 months old, grow very quickly: their final size is generally reached when they are 1 year-old, even if some large breed cats (e.g. Maine Coon) continue their development until 15 to 18 months.
The food that kittens receive throughout their first year must obviously provide all the energy and materials to build up the skeleton, the muscles and all the new tissues. A kitten’s growth depends largely on the quality of the food, but nutrition also influences the digestive transit, the beauty of the coat, the immune system… Any deficiency during this very delicate period may affect the cat's future health.
Growth profile of the kitten
Kittens weigh approximately 100g at birth (between 85-130g). When they are adopted at around 2 months old, their average body weight (BW) is around 1kg (between 0.8 and 1.2kg).
Beware of a high food intake early in life
In order to protect the kitten’s health and to prevent early obesity development, close attention must be paid to the growth curve. Obesity is highly prevalent in cats and recent studies show that a predisposition to being overweight is connected to a higher food intake early in life.
Follow the growth curve
A kitten's growth rate can be easily controlled: it is highly advisable to compare his growth curve to known references for kittens of the same age and sex.
In practice, when a kitten is weighed every 2 weeks, the growth curve appears to be relatively linear. Around 6-7 months old, the BW is about 3 kg, but males are usually heavier, and they also reach mature weight later than females (16 and 13 months old, respectively). Specific references must be considered with pure-breed cats.
Your veterinarian will be able to help you access kittens' standard growth curves.