Depending on the day, you may wish your kitten would stay little forever.
But just like all babies, kittens grow up, which is a good reason to consider the 15+ year commitment that comes with cat ownership before bringing a cute little ball of fur home.
While cats may be emotionally immature for a few years, cats are technically considered “adults” at 12 months of age.
This milestone in your cat’s life will bring about some changes, so it’s important to be prepared.
In this article, we’ll cover the following:
Cats are officially considered “full grown” when they reach 12 months of age.
Kittens grow quickly, which is one of the many reasons it’s important to feed them a high-quality diet; they need all the healthy calories they can get. In fact, most kittens reach sexual maturity by the time they are six months old.
While your cat may still grow a little bit after their first birthday, for all intents and purposes they are officially declared “adult cats” at that point. It may be helpful to think of it in human years: at one year of age, cats are more or less the equivalent of a 15-year-old human being.
Here’s a brief timeline of kitten growth within the first year:
While feline adulthood may officially start the day after they turn one, cats often retain some behaviors and attitudes that are more commonly associated with kittenhood.
Young adult cats are likely to be gangly, playful, and not quite “filled out.”
Some signs of adulthood in your cat are:
Check out this time lapse of a kitten’s first year. See how fast they grow?
While your cat will certainly be undergoing some major physical and psychological changes as they reach their first birthday, there are also some changes that you, as their human caretaker, will need to make.
Your veterinarian can advise you about any vaccinations that you may need to update, so it’s a good idea to bring your cat to the vet around the time of their first birthday. This is also the perfect opportunity to talk about spaying or neutering, if you haven’t already done so.
The most significant changes you will need to make involve your cat’s diet.
When your cat reaches 12 months of age you will need to begin transitioning them from kitten food to adult food.
Many brands of cat food have a “kitten” variety and an “adult” variety, so you may simply be able to get a different formula of the same brand.
In fact, the “kitten to adult” food change is the perfect opportunity to reevaluate the brand of food you’re are feeding your cat. It’s important for both kittens and adults to have optimal nutrition, and your cat’s food should make up the vast majority of their diet. That’s why it’s so important to make every bite count!
When looking for a high-quality cat food, you’ll want to look for the following:
When transitioning from kitten food to adult food, it’s best to do so gradually to avoid digestive upset. Mixing the new food with the old food for a few days and then gradually switching over completely is the best way to avoid accidentally making your cat feel sick.
You may also need to change the frequency with which you feed your cat once they become adults at 12 months of age.
While it’s better for kittens to eat multiple, small meals a day to prevent overeating, you may be able to feed your adult cat twice a day: once in the morning and once at a night. Avoid free-feeding your cat (leaving the food out all day) as this is one of the main causes of feline obesity.
Truth be told, cats don’t really have nine lives, so proper feeding is important.
Just because they’ve reached adulthood doesn’t mean cats are any less fun…check out this cat playing with a kitten!
Cats are technically adults when they reach 12 months of age, but don’t worry. Your cat is likely to still be very active and “kitten-like” for a while.
In the meantime, make sure to gradually transition them to a healthy adult cat food, such as Taste of the Wild.
When did you notice your cat wasn’t a kitten anymore? What kind of behavior changes did you see? We want to hear all about it, let us know in the comments!
After moving to New York City from Rome, Italy, I began working in the nonprofit world. Despite my day job, my passion has always been animals, especially dogs and cats, and writing. What better way to combine the two? I’ve been a pet owner for 15 years, and my menagerie includes dogs, cats, hamsters and the occasional hermit crab. My beloved cat, Mozart, who I found as a newborn kitten, sparked my love for felines and is now nearly 15 years old. I am an enthusiastic volunteer at the local ASPCA, where I enjoy spending time with the cats and cleaning up after the dogs. I’ve been writing about pet ownership and care for the past five years.