As we celebrate Sesame no longer being able to be called a kitten (she just turned one!) we thought we would outline the specifics of what happens to a kitten when they become a cat.
Kittens quickly mature into cats in their first year of life, and there are some changes that occur.
Between three months and six months
At three months of age, your kitten will have developed all their baby teeth and some of these may even fall out. Their eyes will also become the colour they will remain throughout adult years. their body shape will also start to fill out, and they may grow a bit funny – longer legs, until their body catches up, smaller head until this catches up! There are also behaviour changes; they may spend less time sleeping and more time exploring, including approaching other household animals just to see what happens – this needs to be supervised constantly, as larger animals can cause real damage to small kittens. You will start to see their personality develop beyond that of what they did with their littermates. If they did not receive proper socialisation, they may begin to show aggression towards foods, toys, other animals, or even their people.
Teething is also very normal, you may find your furniture being chewed on, or scratched up. Giving your kitten appropriate toys to chew and scratch will help prevent your furniture being turned into a biting and scratching post. Notwithstanding they can do real damage to themselves by chewing on electrical cords, so some kitten proofing is necessary.
Make sure you take them to their first veterinary visit too. Your vet will talk about vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and give your kitten a healthy look over. They may recommend some food options that are nutritious and delicious for your kitten to help with their growth and appetite.
Litter training also takes place during this time, and we recommend from our experience to place at least two to three different litter boxes around the house, to prevent any accidents from happening.
Another important thing to do at this age is train your kitten to wear a collar. This is a method so that if they leave the house and get lost, whoever finds them will be able to contact you and let you know where your little one is. Trust us: Sesame has run into several neighbours houses and we have had numerous texts and calls, which wouldn't have been possible without the tag and collar.
At six months
At the six month mark, kittens may look more like a cat than a kitten, but they still have some growing to do! They may have a lanky torso and legs, which might seem a little odd, however they will soon grow into their own body. This is a similar growth pattern to human teenagers.
Much like teenagers, whilst not fully grown, sexual maturity can occur, so it’s time to be thinking about spaying or neutering your teenage kitten at this stage. You will want to be having this conversation with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
At seven months
Again with the teenager analogy, your kitten will start to sleep more during the day much like an adult cat does. Try to make a comfortable area for your kitten to own and nap in during the day. This can also help to prevent any territory fighting between your kitten and adult cats.
When your kitten isn’t napping, they will be exploring their world and playing, with a higher confidence level than before. They will also demonstrate more confidence with being social with their humans.
If you have not already spayed or neutered your kitten, now is the time to do so, as there is a chance a female kitten can get pregnant.
At eight months
Look out for even more confidence at this age! Your kitten will play more with other pets in the house, including other cats, dogs and puppies. We recommend you still supervise this play as best as you can, as larger animals can still cause damage to your 8-month-old kitten.
Kittens do not respond to force, so if you are trying to train your kitten to do or not do something, using positive reinforcement is a must to prevent negative behaviours that you want to train out. We recommend using interactive play time with toys, verbal praise, and cat treats.
At nine months
By this stage, your kitten is almost fully grown! They should have lost all their baby teeth, and teething should cease, however they may still choose to chew on things – for fun. Monitor this as best as you can, and do not allow this to get out of hand, especially if this includes biting a person or another pet. You can nip aggressive behaviours in the bud by training them to not bite. Ways to stop this include using a firm tone to say the word “NO!”
For example, pushing towards the bite will prompt your kitten to let go, and then the “NO!” method can be used.
At ten months
Now is the time you can make the switch to adult cat food, if you have not done so already. Tread carefully, as introducing any new foods can cause some digestive upset. We recommend using the same brand of food you currently use for kitten food, and transitioning to the cat version of the brand. You can slowly mix in the remaining kitten food you have with adult food, so that way there is a transition phase, especially if you know your kitten has a funny tummy. This can reduce the chances of your wee one getting diarrhea.
At eleven months
Your kitten is almost an adult! They are eating adult food, they have hopefully received all the vaccinations, and are socially adapted to your household. Continue to work on social skills and training, as while they look fully grown, they are the equivalent of a older teenage human, so they are still not fully mentally mature.
At twelve months
Congratulations! Your kitten is now a cat! From now on, they will simply grow mentally. Learning and training never cease, and your cat will always want to explore and learn, play, develop their own habits – both good and bad.
As their human, it is up to you to help direct these behaviours, for the good. Always use positive training methods, remember cats are social grooming animals, so a good scratch on the head and pat on the back go a long way.