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Published: Oct 26, 2012

Whether you adopted your kitten or chose her from a litter, you are probably delighted to have a tiny fluff ball running around at home. As exciting as this time is for cat lovers, it's important to remember a few things to help your kitten grow into a strong, healthy and happy cat. Here is what you can expect in the first year of your cat's life.

8-12 weeks
A kitten will begin weaning from her mom as young as four weeks old, and can be separated entirely (that is, brought home with you) when she is between eight and 10 weeks, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Around this age, your cat is not only independent from her mother, she is ready to test out some of her innate stalking and preying abilities on you - this is the time they start to kick in, according to Animal Planet. Your kitten will also form a strong attachment to you during this time.

3-6 months
By the time your kitten is between the ages of 3 and 6 months, you may have noticed she is fiercely independent but needs plenty of attention. Keep an eye out for safety and don't miss the opportunities for play - this will engage your kitten in exercise while forming a closer bond with you. This is also the age to bring your feline to the vet for kitten vaccines. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, kittens should be getting the last of the three doses of the core vaccinations to protect against feline distemper, feline herpes virus 1, calicivirus and rabies.

This is also the time when most veterinarians recommend spaying a cat. Female cats can be spayed any time after they are 2 to 3 weeks old, and it's ideal to get the procedure done before the cat's first heat period, which usually begin between 5 to 6 months of age.

6-9 months
Your feline will continue to grow as it reaches 9 months, and Animal Planet recommends feeding cats twice a day with at least two ounces of food during this stage in kittenhood. However, be careful not to feed your cat too much, as cat obesity can begin to develop around this age. Male cats should also be neutered around this time to prevent them from spraying their urine.

9-12 months
Your kitten is now a cat! Continue giving her the love and care she deserves with regular visits to the vet to ensure a long and happy life together.