From Kitten to Cat: Tips for Helping Your Cat Transition Through Life

There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing your furry kids growing up healthy, happy and navigating the world on their own four feet. Yes, we’re talking about your beloved feline friends. Here are some tips to help keep your cat on track with its health and other needs as you both journey throughout its life.

From Kitten to Cat: Tips for Helping Your Cat Transition Through Life
From Kitten to Cat: Tips for Helping Your Cat Transition Through Life
credit: Diana Lundin

Kittens

Those little bundles of fur are considered kittens for their first year. Not surprisingly, this is a critical stage for nutrition and socialization. Find out more about kitten instincts and behavior here.

Kittens should be fed a formula specific to their needs. That needs to include at least some wet food to ensure enough nutrition for this growth-filled stage. A kitten formula is recommended for the first 12 months.

You’ll see many physical changes the first year, and a visit to your vet during this phase can tell you if your cat’s weight and coat are looking healthy. Mentally, your cat is exploring all parts of her world, and your role includes making sure to keep the environment enriching enough to keep your cat entertained and your shoes safe from harm.

Adult Cats

During years one through seven, your cat is officially an adult. Though many things will be different from her kittenhood, what hasn’t changed is the need for a quality diet during the bulk of your cat’s lifespan. Your cat needs the proper amount of protein – which is plentiful with wet foods – and a wide variety of flavors and forms, such as in gravy or in sauce, so they don't get bored. Would you want to eat the same flavor food every day for years? In fact, now is a great time to visit Purina Pro Plan for a coupon to stock up on some healthy selections – buy five cans and get one free. Your cat doesn’t have to know the food was free – he’ll just know you have great taste.

Transitioning to an adult diet should be done carefully to avoid upset tummies and turned-up noses. Once you buy the new food, take several days to alter the ratio of old food and new food so that by day four or five, your cat is eating 100% of the new food.

To help keep the body and mind active while your cat is an adult, you may need to turn to new, interactive toys to keep your cat stimulated.

Many cats that are adopted from shelters are adults, so another transition is the one from the shelter to your home. Your new cat may have a full history from its previous owners or may be a total mystery. In either case, expect your new cat to be anything from confused to stressed. Make it easier on both of you by removing access to windows or other escape routes. Consider closing off some rooms so that it can explore regulated areas of your home at first. If you can start with the food your adopted cat was eating at the shelter, that provides familiarity. Use the tips above to transition to the desired food. And, of course, be on hand with a gentle pat and a kind word so your cat gets used to you as its loving new family member.

Senior Cats

Your senior cat is well established as a significant part of your life, and its position is solidified as the true head of the house. Cats are considered seniors at around seven years old. At this life stage, don’t let up on the vet visits, and ask how your cat is doing. If she is still super active, a senior formula can likely wait.

The right food is important not only for nutrition but the form factor. A wet food can help your older cat by providing a substantial source of hydration in an easier-to-eat form. Just be sure to keep an eye on your feline's mouth as older cats are more susceptible to dental disease.

Look for changes during this stage. Limping or less movement could mean joint pain, and excessive meowing can have underlying issues that should be treated.

Your relationship with your cat is made up of countless moments throughout your lives. Make each one as healthy as possible to enjoy as many as possible.