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Positive Cat Parenting™

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS

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Feline Stages of Development and Maturity


For your education...

Feline Adolescence - 17 weeks to 1 year [1]
  • Eating solid food. Change to adult cat food at 6 - 8 months of age. Provide food puzzle and food toys.

  • Sexual maturity - if not altered

  • Social play lessons. Continue interactive play sessions with play directed to toys not to human feet or fingers.

  • Seeks social status by challenging cats in the household. May subordinate to larger adult cats.

  • Spraying may occur - less likely if altered or if only cat. Provide tall posts and praise cheek marking. Upgrade to larger litter box - scooped 2x daily.

  • May get lost. If allowed outdoors may wander off, going farther and for longer periods of time. Provide a break-away cat collar with an ID tag as cat may not find the way home.


Feline
Young Adult - 1 to 6 years [1]

  • Weight gain - Provide food puzzle and food toys. Provide interactive play to burn calories. Do not overfeed by providing only food your cat likes the best.

  • Social maturity at 2 - 3 years. Personality strongly affected by genetics and early experiences.

  • Social play decreases - may play more if living with a cat that is socially compatible. Continue interactive play with food treats to reward "catching the prey" toys. Vary the games every few minutes to different prey-type toys and movements.

  • Litter box evaluation. If cat is spraying or not using the litter box every time, read library topics on feline litter box training and inappropriate elimination. Scoop 2x daily at a minimum and add a box with a sand-based odor free litter.

  • Cat resources - Replace scratching posts and cat beds. Rotate toys. Add vertical space with cat tree type climbers and high resting areas. Hide treats in cat play areas, kennels and beds.

  • Optimal health - consider well-pet exams annually or twice a year to provide a positive visit to the veterinary practice and rule out non-symptomatic discomfort.

Feline Older Adult - 7 years and older [1]

  • Appetite changes - Provide food puzzle and food toys. Do not overfeed by providing only food your cat likes the best. Monitor weight, food and water intake. Take cat to the veterinarian if increased thirst, weight gain or loss.

  • Social play decreases - may play more if living with a cat that is socially compatible. Continue interactive play with food treats to reward "catching the prey" toys. Vary the games every few minutes to different prey-type toys and movements.

  • Increased Vocalization - may occur if your cat if feeling some discomfort or other stress. Take cat to the veterinarian for a comprehensive exam and diagnostic testing

  • Litter box use. If cat is spraying or not using the litter box every time, read library topics on feline litter box training and inappropriate elimination. Scoop 2x daily at a minimum and add a box with a sand-based odor free litter. Take cat to the veterinarian to evaluate cognitive disfunction due to aging.

  • Cat resources - Provide your cat lots of comfy beds, tall scratching posts, horizontal cardboard scratching areas, and protect against weather that is too hot or too cold.

  • Behavior changes are often the first sign of a physical problem. Aging cats may require special diets and medication prescribed by a veterinarian to lengthen life and quality of life.

[1] American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) Feline Behavior Guidelines 2004

 

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