Cat Life Stages

And health care checklists.

Kitten

Birth – 1 Year

During their first year of life, kittens grow more than at any other life stage. They also develop their eating habits, social skills, and personality, so it’s important that their environment is supportive of their needs.

For food, you should be feeding them high quality kitten (or growth) formulas in order to support their rapid development. While doing this, it’s a good idea to give them a variety of different food types and textures, so they don’t become picky later in life (you’ll be happy you did this in a few years).

As your kitten explores their new world, they will be testing their limits and developing their social skills. So, it’s important they have a safe and enriching environment where they’re exposed to new people, smells, sounds, and toys. And just as important, they should have regular veterinary office visits to make sure they’re on track for a long, happy, healthy life.

Healthy Kitten Checklist


  • Schedule 3 office visits in the first year (at 8, 12, and 15 weeks old)
  • Discuss both normal and inappropriate behaviors (including play and litter box use)
  • Work with your vet to develop an appropriate vaccine plan based on lifestyle and risk factors (typically split into 3 visits)
  • Have Felv/FIV tests done when you first get your new kitten
  • Discuss flea control and have an initial fecal test done
  • Learn how to care for your new kitten’s teeth
  • Feed them a high quality growth formula
  • Spay or Neuter before the first heat cycle (15-18 weeks)

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Young Adult

1 – 7 Years

As your cat matures into a young adult, they reach full body size and begin to settle into their life-long patterns.

They will no longer need as many calories to support the rapid growth of being a kitten, so it’s important to switch their diet to one more appropriate for adult cats. If they continue gaining weight past their first year, it often leads to obesity and a host of related health problems. So, it’s important they continue to get appropriate amounts of play and have their diet monitored.

During these years, tendencies towards age-related diseases can begin to appear, so yearly office visits are important for ensuring feline diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis are prevented early.

Healthy Young Adult Checklist


  • Schedule at least 1 office visit per year
  • Discuss both normal and inappropriate behaviors
  • Get a booster vaccine at the 1 year mark, then every 3 years
  • Do any ongoing flea control, and test and treat for parasites as needed
  • Switch to an adult food (or weight-management if needed)
  • Schedule dental cleanings as necessary

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Mature Adult

8 – 11 Years

As your young adult continues aging into their mature adult years, there are new types of care to be aware of.

You should continue to feed them healthy adult foods. However, keep an eye out for odd behaviors like changes in appetite, water consumption, or litter box habits, as they can be indicative of the beginnings of health problems.

Cats continue aging significantly faster than humans, so it’s important to start coming in for veterinary office visits twice per year to screen for, and address, potential issues.

Healthy Adult Checklist


  • Schedule 2 office visits per year
  • Discuss age-related behavior changes
  • Continue getting booster vaccines every 3 years
  • Perform yearly lab tests to screen for potential issues starting at age 10
  • Continue any ongoing flea control, and test and treat for parasites as needed
  • Keep them on an adult food (unless a weight-management or special needs diet is needed)
  • Schedule dental cleanings as necessary

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Senior

12+ Years

As your cat ages through their senior years, behavior changes will likely be more noticeable.

They may become less active, more vocal, or may change how they interact with you. Since cats can’t tell us exactly what they’re feeling, it’s important to recognize these may be signs that they’re in pain or feeling discomfort – particularly if accompanied by weight loss or changes in water consumption.

Two veterinary office visits per year can go a long way towards improving their potential life span and quality of life.

Healthy Senior Checklist


  • Schedule 2 to 3 office visits per year
  • Discuss age-related behavior changes
  • Continue getting booster vaccines every 3 years
  • Perform lab tests at every office visit to screen for and monitor potential issues
  • Blood pressure will be monitored at each office visit
  • Continue any ongoing flea control, and test and treat for parasites as needed
  • Switch to a senior diet (or other special needs diet)
  • Schedule dental cleanings as necessary

Ready for an appointment?
Contact one of our locations today!

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