by Barbara George, Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
As kittens grow to adult, then become seniors, their needs and outlook on life changes. In order to understand these changes, we take a broad look at the different life stages in cats. For information on your specific cat please consult your vet, as all cats are different and will exhibit characteristics of all stages at times.
The kitten stage is from birth to 6 months. Within this, there are two phases, from birth to 4 months is a time of rapid growth, both physically and emotionally as the kitten learns about life and how to deal with it. Activity levels are high, nutrition and socialisation are vital for a healthy companion cat. From 4 to 6 months growth is typically slower, allowing for muscles to develop and strengthen. Kittens require constant supervision. Energy levels are still high, and female kittens cat fall pregnant.
Junior cats range from 6 months to 2 years. Many cats still show kitten tendencies during this stage; activity levels can remain high, moderating as they age. Most cats will reach their full size during this time; large breed cats will continue to mature until 3-4 years of age. As they become sexually mature cats will test their abilities against those of older cats in the household; some aggression can occur.
Adult cats range from 3 to 6 years, although the entry age may differ for individuals and large-breed cats. This is their prime time of life, they are mature, have established their personalities and preferences, active and playful but less energetic than a junior, hence requiring less supervision.
Between 7 and 10 years cats are mature, beginning to slow down. Playing is important to keep them fit & healthy, and weight under control. Monitoring for diseases is important as cats tend to hide these issues until they are severe.
Cats in the age range 11 to 14 years are considered senior. Depending on their earlier lives, some cats can be considered senior as early as 8 years of age. Management of the environment, nutrition and exercise is necessary. Monitoring health issues is more important during these years.
Availability of good nutrition and veterinary care can lead to a higher population of geriatric cats, 15 years and older. These cats are more likely to suffer from ageing changes, such as loss of hearing or sight, mobility, increased vocalisation, and general slow failure of body organs. Their environmental and nutrition needs will be defined by their health and condition; stressful situations can cause them to react strongly. Play sessions are important for health, but shorter and aligned to their ability. These cats can be challenging as they become forgetful; they require supervision and assistance to live happily.
To contact Barbara, please email firstname.lastname@example.org