One day you’ll have a disarmingly cute kitten; The next time you live with a lanky “teenage” cat who has decided it is time to make her mark on the world – literally. They scratch, mark, howl and long to be free.
All of a sudden, it’s really hard to live with your adorable kitten. Welcome to the cat youth.
By around six months to 18 months of age, kittens mature into adult cats, a process that is both fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating because seeing a teenager develop is always interesting and frustrating because it’s like life with any teenager.
Here are some things to expect when living with an adolescent cat – and some things you can do to reduce the stress they could be causing you.
Energy, energy and more energy
Your teenage cat is full of energy that she can’t do anything with, and she wants to find her place in the world – ideally at the top of the pile – by testing boundaries with you and other cats in the household.
That can mean scratching the furniture to leave traces of smell that identify the object as your own, marking furniture with urine marks or other objects for the same reason, and having fights with other cats.
At the very least, they’ll demonstrate their physical abilities by jumping to the highest points in the room, sometimes clumsily knocking over Great Aunt Jane’s Chinese vases.
Don’t forget to neuter or neuter
Adolescence is also the time your kitten reaches sexual maturity. It’s hard to imagine, but your little kitten may be ready to father their own kittens or help create kittens as young as five months old.
If your female kitten suddenly screams and rolls with desire, it is just getting into heat or oestrus. This deafening phase of torture usually lasts about a week. During this time, you must lock her in as securely as if she were in Alcatraz so that no men can answer her siren call.
Immediately afterwards, you can have them neutered so that none of you have to experience it again.
Have your kitten repaired at three to four months of age to avoid the chances of getting your cat into heat and to reduce unwanted sexual behavior such as urine marking, which can be done by both men and women.
This may seem early, but at this age it’s a simple operation. Kittens rebound quickly, more so than older cats undergoing spayed or neutered procedures.
Your wife will never again experience the frustrations of unrequited oestrus, and your young man is less likely to express the bellicose behavior of boastful hangovers set on territory.
Channel your energy appropriately
So that you and your kitten both survive their youth, channeling their energies through puzzle games, trick training and daily playtime.
If they try to use your body parts as toys, warn them with a splash of water or canned air, or make a hissing noise and walk away just like their siblings would.
Make sure they have enough interactive toy this will keep their brains occupied and give them the ability to hunt, chase, and hunt. A large scratching post gives them a chance to climb and scratch.
Trick training teaches self-control and can help you redirect some of the behaviors that you also dislike. Training isn’t just for dogs. Many cats enjoy the mental training of learning tricks, and some cats even play a fetch game!
Be patient and hold onto your sense of humor. This, too, will pass, and one day you will wake up and live with a calm, well-behaved adult cat.
Do you have any other tips for handling a cat when it is young? Is your cat going through its terrible teenage years? Let us know in the comments below!
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