When you think of the stages of a cat’s life, you might think that they only consist of puppyhood, adulthood and old age. You might also think that once a cat reaches adulthood, there is not much difference between caring for an adult cat and caring for a younger cat. If that’s the case, you might be surprised to learn that cats go through six distinct life stages, all of which have their own care and feeding characteristics. Read on to find out which of the feline life stages your cat is in and how you can provide the best care and nutrition for your cat’s age.

Keep in mind that some cats mature faster than others, so it’s important to check with your veterinarian to make sure he’s getting the right nutrition as he grows.

Puppy Stage (0 to 6 Months)

A kitten puppy is the feline equivalent of a human baby. However, kittens grow and develop much faster than humans. During its first 6 months of life, a kitten will transition fairly quickly through stages that are similar to those of a human child: from newborn to toddler to preschooler to older child.

  • Appearance: Puppies are easy to spot. They look exactly like what they are: little baby kittens. They start out with shorter ears and a tail that grows to be more proportionate with their bodies as they mature.
  • Behavior: Kittens are continually learning and discovering the world around them. At first, they are helpless and completely dependent on their mother and humans for every aspect of their care and protection. As they grow and develop the skills to explore their environment, curiosity drives them. Between that, lack of fear and abundance of energy, kittens can be prone to mischief.
  • Care and training: usually when you adopt a baby kitten, they will be fully weaned from their mother and eating solid food. They will also be fully mobile and quite capable of climbing, jumping, playing and getting into things, and will still have to learn that some objects and activities are not good for them. Kittens require a lot of patience and supervision. Before you get a kitten kitten, you’ll want to puppy-proof your home by blocking off vents and other dangerous places that are small enough for them to climb or crawl into.

In general, kittens should have received their first vaccinations by the time they are old enough to be adopted, but may be ready for a booster around four months of age. Consult your veterinarian to discuss the best time to spay or neuter your kitten. Your veterinarian can inform you of these options, as well as present you with the vaccination schedule when you take him or her for his or her first health checkup. Your veterinarian can also help determine the best methods for controlling fleas and other parasites.

Your kitten will need to be trained to use the litter box, but it is quite instinctive and something they usually learn on their own, so training is mainly a matter of getting them used to the box and gently reminding them to go there by placing them in it. The rest of kitten training is mainly focused on socializing kittens with people and other animals, and establishing household rules and behavioral boundaries.

  • Nutritional needs: growing kittens need an adequate amount of protein to support growth and development, without which their growth may be stunted or they may develop health problems. Kittens should be fed a good quality kitten food that is specially formulated to support their rapidly growing bodies.

Junior cat stage (6 months to 2 years)

The junior stage of life is equivalent to human adolescence. During this stage, a cat loses its baby appearance as it reaches physical and sexual maturity. They also outgrow their baby kitten personality and their true temperament is formed.

  • Appearance: As they move from the kitten stage of life, a young cat sometimes goes through a somewhat awkward stage as they experience growth spurts that leave them looking long and lanky.
  • Behavior: this is a transitional stage in a cat’s life, during which they must begin to settle down and stop being unruly and learn to behave more like an adult cat. By the time they reach 18 months of age, they are likely to be much calmer.
  • Care and training: The vaccination schedule established with your veterinarian should be continued. As your cat outgrows his puppy behavior and settles into adulthood, he will need less supervision. Teaching at this stage is generally about reinforcing rules and boundaries and continued socialization.
  • Nutritional needs: At one year of age, it will be time to transition from kitten food to adult cat food. Starting adult kibble or canned (wet) food is really a matter of personal preference. Either way, a standard adult formula should meet all of her nutritional needs. It is not uncommon for cats at this stage to gain weight after being spayed or neutered, so they should be monitored to make sure they are not being overfed.

First feline stage (3 to 6 years)

At this stage, your cat is in the prime of his life, roughly the equivalent of a human in his twenties to thirties.

  • Appearance: a cat at this stage should be at the peak of health and fitness. They are as long and tall as they should be, and should be nourished but not overweight, with a healthy, shiny coat.
    Behavior: by now, your kitten should be fully settled into its natural adult temperament, which varies from cat to cat. Barring the development of any disease or disorder that alters behavior, the personality your cat displays now is the personality he will have for the rest of his life. They are usually active and playful, with their routines and territories well established.
  • Care and training: Although they are in their best health, care for adult cats in their prime should include regular health checkups. If a cat has not outgrown problem behavior at this stage, you may need to consult a professional trainer to help correct the behavior and consult with your veterinarian to make sure the behavior does not have an underlying medical cause. If you choose to adopt an adult cat, you can still housebreak it. Cats, unlike dogs, are more independent by nature, so it may seem difficult to train, but it is definitely possible, so be patient with them.
  • Nutritional needs: At one year of age, it will be time to transition from puppy food to adult cat food. Starting him on adult kibble or wet food is really a matter of personal preference. Either way, a standard adult formula should meet all of his nutritional needs.

Mature cat stage (7 to 10 years)

A mature cat is roughly the equivalent of a middle-aged human in their forties or fifties.

  • Appearance: Your mature cat may not look any different from a young cat, especially if it remains active. However, cats at this stage of life are more prone to weight gain and obesity, so it is not unusual for them to gain weight and for their coat to begin to lose some of its luster.
  • Behavior: Although some cats remain active and playful well into old age, it is not uncommon for a mature cat to become less active and more sedentary.
  • Care and training: As with a younger adult cat, you may need to reinforce training from time to time, but not often. Caring for cats at this mature stage is more complicated, as they are not only at higher risk for obesity and obesity-related health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure, but also at risk for cancer and other diseases such as kidney or thyroid disease. They should have regular check-ups with their veterinarian.
  • Nutritional needs: Adult cats need a variety of nutrients to keep their bodies in top shape. This includes vitamins C and E to boost their immune system. If he is prone to packing on a few extra pounds, you may need to adjust his food to suit his activity level or choose food designed for less active cats.

Senior and geriatric cat stage (11 years and older)

Cats in their advanced years are divided into two stages. Those between the ages of 11 and 14 are considered senior/senior cats, which is roughly equivalent to a human in their sixties and seventies. Cats aged 15 years and older are considered geriatric cats.

  • Appearance: Older cats are likely to show signs of aging, such as white fur and less luster. These characteristics may become more pronounced as they continue to age.
    Behavior: Cats in these later stages of feline life are at increased risk for the conditions and diseases mentioned in the mature stage, and are also prone to mobility problems caused by arthritis or other joint problems.
  • Care and training: Caring for older and geriatric cats can be challenging. Your senior cat must continue to attend regular health checkups and be closely monitored for health problems. At this stage, the main focus is to keep him comfortable and as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Make sure it is easy for him to get in and out of his litter box and that his food and water are readily available. Many aging cats live a long life in their senior years and can be quite active, but their playtime may not last as long. The good news is that he may be more willing to cuddle, further strengthening your bond.
  • Nutritional needs: if he develops health problems, your veterinarian can prescribe therapeutic cat food for your cat. Otherwise, a quality senior cat food formula should sufficiently meet all your cat’s nutritional needs. If your cat is not drinking enough water, your veterinarian may recommend switching to wet cat food to help your cat stay hydrated.

By knowing your cat’s current life stage, you can tailor your cat’s care accordingly to provide optimal health, nutrition and quality of life so you can both continue to enjoy living a life together. Call us at 932 460 805 or contact us by filling out this form if you are looking for veterinarians in Barcelona and want to bring your feline to our Glòries Veterinary Hospital, our experts will be happy to take care of your cat’s health.