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My baby's not a baby anymore

In yesterday's article, we said that female kittens can get pregnant by 5 months old. The time it takes a kitten to go from infancy to adulthood is only about 2 years. In the first four weeks of life, kittens are in their infancy stage, dependent on their mama for everything just like human babies. By week five they move into the toddler stage and should already start using the litter box like a pro and start trying mama's food.

Between weeks six and eight kittens are learning critical skills from each other and their mom. They are learning how to be a cat. From week eight to week eighteen kittens move through childhood and into adolescence. This is an important time to cement the house rules and train, yes train your kitty to do the things you want them to and teach them what is not acceptable (like jumping on the counters). The key to training your cat is positive reinforcement and consistency. Punishment does not work and could cause more negative behaviors. Cats respond to tone of voice. You can be firm without yelling.

In multi-cat households, cats will go through a period of jockeying and establishing the social hierarchy in their little community. For boys especially this period can ignite conflict and also anxiety, kind of like the high school years. When they emerge on the other side, they will be calmer and more settled in their life. By age two your cat's personality will be set.

It is so fun and interesting to watch the development of a child into an adult. It is just as much fun to watch a cat go through the same stages. But, if you are thinking about bringing a cat or kitten into your life, you may find that an adult cat will fit your lifestyle better than a kitten. Like babies, kittens are a lot of work and need more time to feel comfortable in their new home. They also don't do well being left alone for many hours. Adopting an adult cat is rewarding for both you and the cat who will be so happy to have a stable, and safe home.

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