Life Stages of a CatPetmania Pet Care Advisor
Cats can live amazingly long lives; up to 25 years! Cats go through many different stages throughout their life, from a tiny, playful kitten, to a confident, adult cat.
Your cat’s requirements will change as they grow older and go through the five different life stages; kitten, junior, young adult, mature adult, and senior. Each stage has different health and behavioural needs that will require attention. In this article, we’ll bring you through the different phases in your cat’s life, talk you through their nutritional needs, what to expect in their behaviour, and how to take the best possible care of your feline friend.
Age: 0-6 Months
Characteristics: Newborn kittens are completely dependent on their mother for their first few weeks of life. Their eyes won’t open until they around 6 days old, and they won’t walk until they are around four weeks. They initially have shortened ears and a tail that grows to be more proportionate with their bodies as they grow older.
Nutrition: Kittens must stay with their mothers until they are 8 weeks old when they are completely weaned. They can try kibble or canned food around this period. At around 2-4 months, you can introduce wet kitten food. For more information on feeding your kitten, visit our blog post.
Behaviour: Kittens are very playful and curious, and this curiosity will continue to cultivate as they get older. They are energetic, mischievous, and love exploring, so make sure to support this drive through the use of toys and games.
Care: It is a good idea to introduce them to grooming tools when they are younger, as they will be used to them when they are adults. Get your kitty comfortable with nail trims, tooth and coat brushing, as well as their cat carrier for going to the vets. Young kittens would have learned how to use a litter box by watching their mother, however if they have not been trained yet, you will need to start a training routine as soon as possible to get them used to their litter box.
Age: 7 months-2 years
Characteristics: Junior kittens go through growth spurts during this period, and will eventually reach their full size. Their baby teeth have fallen out by this stage, replaced by stronger, adult teeth.
Nutrition: At around the one year mark, your cat can be transitioned from kitten food to a high-quality adult cat food. Feed your kitten three times a day, and weigh them regularly and adjust the amounts accordingly. Always follow the feeding guide recommended by your chosen brand.
It’s not unusual for recently spayed or neutered cats at this stage to put on some extra weight, so they will need to be monitored to make sure there is no overfeeding.
Behaviour: At this stage, your kitten will begin to grow into a mature and grown adult cat. However, the playful kitten curiosity will still be there, so make sure to give your cat toys to play with.
Care: Be sure to continue the vaccination schedule based on your vet’s guidelines. As your kitten begins to grow into an adult, they will need less supervision, but training is still essential to ensure they follow rules and boundaries. Make sure your cat is socialised, especially if there are other pets in the home.
Young Adult (Prime)
Age: 3-6 years
Characteristics: By now, your cat is at peak health and fitness. They are healthy, active, and physically and behaviourally mature. They will have a sleek body and a healthy, shiny coat. They have also reached the biggest they will get.
Nutrition: At this stage your cat will be entering ‘prime’ years but particular dietary needs may develop depending on your cat’s individual life style. Special diets are available for cats who may have particular dietary needs, such has hairball control, urinary care, weight control, indoor or outdoor lifestyle. If your cat lives outdoors, they will need a diet with a higher fat and protein content, to provide more energy, as outdoor cats tend to be more active.
Behaviour: At this stage, your cat will be settled into their natural adult temperament. The personality they have now will be the personality they have for life, and will be settled into an established routine. They will still enjoy playing and exploring, and will continue to be active.
Care: Take your cat to the vet for regular health check-ups to ensure everything is as it should be. They will be in peak health at this stage.
Age: 7-10 years
Characteristics: Your mature cat may not appear too different than when she was a young adult. Cats during this stage are prone to weight gain and obesity, and may be less active than they were before.
Nutrition: You may notice that they’re not as active as they used to be, so adjusting their daily diet and calorie intake is recommended to prevent weight gain at this stage in their life.
When choosing the best food for your mature cat, make sure to select one that has been especially formulated to cater for the dietary needs of an older cat. These will be developed to prevent weight gain, boost the immune system and aid your cats joints and mobility as they age.
Behaviour: You may notice your cat is less active and playful. They will be more relaxed as they begin to slow down.
Care: Continue regular checkups to keep them healthy and prevent disease or illnesses.
Age: 11 years +
Characteristics: As your cat reaches their senior years, you may notice more obvious signs of aging, such as more white in their fur and a lack of energy.
Nutritional Needs: As they enter senior years, your cat’s senses will begin to deteriorate, which can lead to a loss of appetite. Moving from a dry food formula to a wet cat food, or a dry food with a wet centre can make your cat’s mealtimes more appetizing and palatable.
Behaviour: Cats at this stage are prone to mobility issues such as arthritis. This can cause them to slow down. If their litter box is in a difficult to reach spot, they stop using it, so make sure their litter box, bed, and water bowl are all in easy to reach spots downstairs. There may be more toilet accidents at this stage of their life as they become more forgetful.
Care: Senior cats should visit the veterinarian at least every six months since a lot can happen in a year, and things could be caught early.