When Do Kittens Start Walking? Here Are the Steps, From Crawling to Scampering
We're so accustomed to laughing over social media videos of frisky, romping itty-bitty kitties, it's hard to imagine they don't just come into the world like that!
So exactly when do kittens start walking? Well, their mobility advances in stages. (Just like humans!) Tarina L. Anthony, DVM, is a longtime practitioner of feline-exclusive medicine, and owner and medical director of Aurora Cat Hospital and Hotel in Aurora, Colo. She tells Daily Paws that as soon as you can, you'll want to take the new litter in for a veterinary checkup to make sure your furballs are on target with development.
"It's best to bring kittens to a vet soon after they are born in order for the doctor to check for any congenital (present at birth) defects," Anthony says. "Bring them in a carrier with their mother, as they need to stay with her in the immediate postpartum period."
At What Age Do Kittens Start Walking?
There's a lot happening in a kitten's first month of life. Momma Cat usually takes care of everything: food, affection, socialization, bathing, and so on. Your primary job is to keep the feline family in a safe, darkened space that's warm and dry.
But kitten development happens rapidly. One minute, they're just furry wiggling extensions of their mom. The next thing you know, they're making friends with baby chicks! Each day presents new advances—for example, kittens usually open their eyes within 10 days of birth, although it takes about another week or so before they can see clearly. They also start to develop a sense of smell during this time frame.
"Kittens start crawling around at one to two weeks of age," Anthony says. "Although they'll move their limbs much earlier." In this video, you can hear Momma Cat's encouragement as one of her babies starts to find their footing. At this point on their official kitten walking progress chart, they won't be scampering about, but instead gradually gaining an understanding of what the world is like from a more upright position. Yes, it might seem at first that your kitten is walking weirdly, but they're just making their way, one widdle paw at a time.
How Long Does It Take for a Kitten to Walk?
Around the same week that kittens' deciduous teeth emerge, they'll also be more on their feet. "Once kittens are around three weeks old, they'll begin walking without much coordination," Anthony adds. "Most kittens will be walking by 28 days or so." Now, they might start off a little hesitant, like this cutie, and still be a tad uncoordinated. But soon, you'll have an inkling of whatever sassy cat strut will eventually become their signature.
And then, then, you won't be able to stop the frisking no matter what you do! They'll explore and frolic with abandon.
Why Can't My Kitten Walk Yet?
This is another reason why your kittens need an early vet check shortly after birth. Anthony says most congenital issues are apparent even before walking begins. "And if there are any issues noted with ambulation, a veterinarian may be able to do x-rays or other diagnostics to determine what's going on."
If your kitten shakes while walking, seems slow to progress, or walks oddly or not at all, the problem could be related to a medical condition, such as:
- Damage to the peripheral spinal nerves
- A rare development of a tumor located near the nerve roots
- Vestibular disease, which affects balance and coordination, and has been noticed most often in Burmese kittens
- Spina bifida occulta, which sometimes results in a tailless body and reduced back limb reflexes
- Metabolic disorders, which are often inherited or congenital
Your veterinarian will know whether—and how—to test for these conditions. And recommend next steps, if warranted.
Curious about other aspects of kitten development? Check out our kitten care section for additional tips on health, behavior, and just plain fun!