Cat Life Stages: Learn How a Cat Matures

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When a kitten is born, it is hard to believe that one of these helpless little pink things will become a graceful and powerful hunter. However, your sweet little kitten will grow into a mature cat within a year.

» Try reading How to Choose the Right Cat Breed For You.

two cats lying together

When embarking on the journey of cat ownership, it is important to know the many cat life stages your cat will go through during its life.

A cat’s life cycle is broken into five distinct stages: kitten, adolescent, junior, adulthood, and senior. These different stages require different food, different care, and ultimately more or less commitment from you along the way.

It’s always good to be prepared for what’s to come in the life of your cat. So we’ve put together this helpful guide that will walk you through the cat life cycle.

Cat Life Stages – Newborn to Senior

Newborn

kitten looking over blanket

Age: zero to 6 weeks

In their first stage, kittens rely almost completely on their mothers to meet their needs, since they are born blind and completely dependent. This is why it’s so important not to take a kitten away from its mother until they are between 10 and 12 weeks old.

After opening its eyes, your kitten will begin exploring their surroundings. As early as four weeks old, they will be running around shakily with their siblings, latching on to mom for feedings, and learning to gain balance and strength. It’s time to start using the litter box and socializing them.

In the wild, mothers supplement their kittens’ diet with dead mice and other small prey. You can feed them soft kitten food or dry food softened with water. 

Adolescent

kitten wrapped in towel

Age: 6 weeks to 6 months

At six to eight weeks of age, your kitten is ready to explore a little more of its surroundings. Kittens will venture into other rooms if they are indoors, while feral kittens follow their mothers to the local cat colony to hang out with them. 

Junior kittens will also begin to develop their hunting abilities. At eight to 10 weeks, kittens are usually completely weaned and ready to go to a new home.

At this stage, your cat should know how to use a litter box and be eating a normal diet. Kittens can be neutered from 4 months old.

Learn more about caring for a kitten.

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Junior

cat in yarn

Age: 6 months to 2 years

Kittens grow fairly quickly after 6 months. In order to stay strong and healthy, they require a series of vaccinations. As they learn to coexist with their families and learn which behaviors are acceptable, they will also learn how to coexist with strangers.

Your kitten should learn their name and a few simple commands. Additionally, if you have a long-haired cat, you need to get them used to the grooming process now, even if they don’t have a coat that needs brushing yet.

Has your sweet little kitten suddenly become grumpy or moody? Just like human children, cats transition from being kittens to becoming mature cats during adolescence. 

This stage usually begins at around five to six months and may last until your cat reaches their first year. They will still be very playful, but may occasionally get carried away and play too aggressively.

If you do not neuter your cat at six months of age, they will actually be mature enough to reproduce. Having your cat neutered will make this stage much easier for them.

Adulthood

adult cat on table

Age: 2 years to 10 years

Your cat will look pretty much like an adult cat after 6-8 months of age. However, they will bulk up and fill out as they mature.

Of course, once they are an adult, your cat will go through additional stages, such as middle age, just as humans do. The good news is that you won’t have to worry that little Fluffy will run out and buy a sports car if they have a bit of a mid-life crisis.

The things you should be watching for during your cat’s adult years are that they remain healthy and active. Common health problems include parasites, dental disease, obesity, and heart disease. They need regular check ups to make sure everything is going well.

You will also be feeding your cat adult cat food. Some dry food will help keep their teeth clean, and you might consider brushing your cat’s teeth too.

Generally, a cat should be considered middle aged if they’re older than 7. At this point, it’s important to monitor your cat more closely to watch for things like diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism and cancer.

Senior – Super Senior

Older orange cat

Age: 10 years to 20 years

Cats can live to be as old as 20 years old. But after 10 years of age, they are considered senior and should be taken care of appropriately for their old age.

You may notice your cat’s behavior changes when they get older, including being less active, grooming less, wandering aimlessly and sleeping more often. Some of these things are normal, while some can indicate a problem.

Be sure to watch your cat carefully for signs of something wrong, like diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism and cancer, which are all more likely as your cat ages.

It’s also good to switch to feeding your cat a food that’s specifically formulated for senior cats, which will help with their digestive health.

Conclusion

There are some important and rapid changes your feline friend will go through as they age. If you have a young kitten, it is definitely important that you learn these cat life stages.

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