Cats come in all sizes. There are small cats that are adorably cute. And there are big cats that could make your dream of snuggling a tiger or leopard come true. The average-sized ones are nevertheless lovely to live with.
If you are curious how tall your cat will grow to be, you can make a good guess based on the factors that affect its growth. Before learning the factors, it’s good to learn how your feline grows into an adult cat.
How do cats grow?
Kittens are incredibly small when they are born. They fit in the palm of your hand and weigh 3 to 5 ounces. They are helpless and completely dependent on their mother or caretaker for protection, warmth and nutrition. A healthy kitten will gain between 0.25 and 0.5 ounces a day, doubling its mass when it reaches its second week. By that time, they will begin to see and hear and are strong enough to crawl.
At four weeks, the kitten will weigh around a pound. At three months old, it will weigh between three and five pounds. They grow up so fast in the next months and by the time they reach their sixth month, they may look like a little adult. They weigh about six pound with a lanky torso and legs. Some are considered fully grown around that age but certain large breed cats can continue growing up to one year.
What determines a cat’s size?
In general, male cats are larger than female cats. On average, males are several inches longer and several pounds heavier than females with the same breed and lifestyle.
The biggest determining factor in a cat’s size is its breed. Some breeds of cats are small and some can get really huge. Most domestic cats are a mixture of different breeds and fall somewhere in between huge and tiny.
Munchkin cats are one of the most famous small cat breeds. Their tiny size is due to a gene mutation that means they have little dumpy legs that are much shorter than normal. While their bodies are only slightly smaller than average, their shoulders are very low to the ground, which is why they have such an adorable way of walking.
On the opposite end, originally kept as farm cats, Maine Coons are big cats. They can weigh up to 20 pounds. The Guinness World Record holder for the longest cat was a Maine Coon that measured an impressive 3ft 11.2 in from head to tail tip.
3. Birth Order and Number of Siblings
In most litters, there is one kitten with low birth weight called a runt. A litter has only one true runt but not every litter will have a runt. Runts are considerably smaller than its other siblings. This is because litter-bearing cats have Y-shaped uteruses. Those at the center of the Y get the least amount of food and have the greatest chance of being runts, while those closest to the mother’s blood supply get the most nourishment and have the highest birth weights.
With their small size, runts are born to fight harder for food because they are small, weak and often shoved out by other kittens. The number of kittens in a litter contributes also to runts unable to fight their way to the food source. As a result, they grow much slower than other kittens. Unfortunately, some runts don’t survive. But if they make it to six to eight weeks, it will probably live on and likely grow close to full size.
4. Diet of the Mother
Mother cats should be at the best weight before breeding. Cats that are poorly fed have the possibility of giving birth to underweight kittens. Pregnant cats need higher amounts of calories and protein to help her litter. Feeding them right will ensure that it grows fit kittens.
A mother cat’s milk is the sole source of food of kittens for their first eight weeks. So it’s also important to maintain a high quality diet during nursing to help its kittens grow healthy.
5. Health Conditions
Genetic conditions can also affect the size of cats. Dwarfism is one of the most common conditions that occur in cats. It comes in two forms:
This is caused by a reduced production of growth hormones in the pituitary gland. A kitten affected with this will fail to grow at the proper rate, though the proportion of the body and head size would be normal. The kitten will generally be much smaller than its littermates. Because so many organs are affected by a lack of growth hormones, normal life spans for cats with this are not to be expected.
This is a hereditary disorder of the bones and cartilage. With their short limbs and undershot jaws, cats born with osteochondrodysplasia may look cute but this serious condition is not always easy for them as it can cause serious health issues.
6. Intact Status
Spaying or neutering a cat can influence its growth depending on the age of the cat when the procedure is performed. A cat that is fixed before it reaches sexual maturity will tend to reach a smaller adult size than an unfixed cat. Intact male cats look different from their neutered counterparts. This is due to the hormones that are released during puberty that causes growth spurts.
There are many factors that affect how tall can cats grow. There are those that cannot be controlled. As a cat owner, it’s important to monitor and maintain your pet’s health and diet as it can also affect its height. No matter its size, your cat deserves care to grow healthy and happy.