Kittens quickly become cats and there are some notable changes that occur during the last half of their first year of life. The major developmental milestones may have already passed but that doesn't mean your kitten is done growing physically or mentally.
Month 6: Time to Spay or Neuter a Kitten
At six months of age, your kitten may look like a little adult but that doesn't mean it has reached its adult size. The basic rule of thumb is that the average-sized cat will gain about one pound a month so at six months of age your kitten should weigh about six pounds with a lanky torso and legs. It may seem a little disproportional but your kitten will soon grow into its long legs and body just like a human preteen does.
At this age your kitten should also have received all of its vaccinations and you should be thinking about scheduling its spay or neuter. While not yet fully grown in size, sexual maturity can occur at six months of age. To avoid having a male kitten that sprays urine to mark its territory or a female kitten that goes into heat, you'll want to get your male kitten neutered or your female kitten spayed as soon as possible. These are routine surgeries that will be performed by your veterinarian.
Baby teeth may still be present but some kittens will lose them all by the time they are six months old. Some veterinarians will recommend extracting any baby teeth that remain in your kitten's mouth when it gets spayed or neutered.
Month 7: Your Kitten Will Sleep More
Still very much a baby but growing into a young adolescent, your kitten will start to sleep more during the day like an adult cat does. Expect more than half the day to be filled with cat naps so try to have a comfy cat bed in your kitten's favorite spots.
When your kitten isn't sleeping, it will still be exploring and playing but its confidence level will be higher than when it was just a toddler. It will also be more coordinated as a young adolescent and will demonstrate just how social it wants to be with you. Socialization and bonding time has always been important to your growing kitten but at this age your hard work will have finally paid off and you may see your kitten starting to snuggle with you voluntarily.
If you have not already had your female kitten spayed and it has spent time with an intact male cat then there is a chance that your kitten is pregnant. Cats can get pregnant as young as six months of age so it is very important to get your female kitten spayed if you don't want more kittens.
Month 8: Your Kitten is Confident
Your kitten may start to play more with other pets in your house since its confidence is at an all-time high. Supervision is still a necessity though, as larger pets such as dogs can still do damage to an eight month old kitten.
Counter surfing may be attempted now that your kitten is large enough to jump that high, items may be pushed around or pushed off of tables out of curiosity, and testing the limits of both human and inanimate objects may occur. Setting boundaries and being consistent in any training with your kitten is important. Kittens do not respond to force so if you are trying to train it to do or not do something you'll need to use positive reinforcement and patience to get the outcome you want. Verbal praise and tasty cat treats can go a long way in cat training.
By nine months of age your adolescent kitten is almost full grown and all of its baby teeth should be gone. Teething should cease but your kitten may still discover how fun it is to chew on things. Monitor your kitten's biting and chewing behaviors closely and make sure they do not get out of hand. Your kitten should never bite a person or other pet unwarranted. If aggressive behaviors start to show then be sure to nip them in the bud right away and start training your kitten not to bite.
Month 10: Transition Your Kitten to Adult Cat Food
Making the switch from kitten to adult food can occur at anytime now. This transition should be a slow one though and careful thought should go into which adult food you want to feed your kitten.
Be sure to choose a high-quality, meat-based adult cat food for your kitten. Your veterinarian may have specific brand recommendations for you but otherwise look for a major brand that is formulated for adult cats and has the AAFCO seal on the package. These things all indicate that the food is a good choice. Major food brands have quality control, customer service, veterinarians on staff, and high-quality ingredients. Generic or store-brand foods may have lower quality ingredients and not provide proper nutrition to your kitten. The food you choose should also list meat as the first ingredient since cats are carnivores.
Slowly mix the remaining kitten food you have with the new adult cat food. Allow there to eventually be more adult cat food then there is kitten food. This transition should take at least a week to decrease the likelihood of dietary-induced diarrhea and during this time you should also monitor your kitten's appetite to ensure it is still eating the adult food and not just picking out the kitten food.
Month 11: Your Kitten is Almost an Adult
Almost a year of growing has occurred already and now your kitten is just about full grown. It is sexually mature, eating adult cat food, has received all of its vaccinations, and you are consistently working on its social skills and training. It is equivalent to a teenage human at this point so while it still has some mental maturing to do, it looks like an adult cat.
Month 12: Your Kitten is Now a Cat
At one year of age most people will now consider your kitten an adult cat. Most cats are full grown by one year of age so from here on out your cat will simply grow mentally. Learning and training never ends. Your cat will always explore, make decisions, play, and develop both good and bad habits and it is up to you to steer it in the direction you would like it to grow. Remember to always use gentle and positive training methods and a good scratch behind the ears can go a long way!