How long are cats kittens?

As I’ve said in another thread, I’m considering getting another cat to keep Mr. Dibbles (I like to call him that because he finds it degrading) company, but I want to get a kitten so it won’t upset the social order. I don’t want a cat that’s going to change Dewey’s place in the household - something he knows he’s the boss of, in other words. Something that will fit in and not hurt our relationship with our existing cat. So in terms of cat development and personality, how old is the oldest cat I can get that will be a “kitten”? Six months? A year?

Umm…you’re kidding, right? Getting a kitten so as not to upset the social order of cats is like having a baby so you can get a good night’s sleep!

A kitten is ten kinds of upset. She’ll be more active than him, cuter than him, want to play at different hours than him, get yummier food than him… Plus she’ll change personality at least twice before being “all growed up”, so the poor creatures around her have to get used to her new foibles once they figure out her old.

Cats aren’t people. They don’t assume rank on the basis of seniority or age. Furthermore, they don’t act to other cats like they do to their people. Our youngest, cuddliest, sweetest-to-people cat is a royal bitch to the old male we had first, and he’s aggressive and psychopathic to humans but totally kowtows and hides to other cats.

Bottom line, it’s a crapshoot. Get a kitty you like, whether because she’s cuddly or matches your couch, and cross your fingers and hope for the best.

(But to actually answer the question, 6-9 months is generally sexually mature, but not full grown, like a “teenager”, and a year is fully grown.)

Well, I know she’ll be fussy, but I don’t want to get a full grown dominant cat who’s going to steal his place at the window.

You are supposed to feed kitten chow to your pet for the about first year of it’s life, so I’d say kittenhood is about one year long. I second what WhyNot said though, you’d do better finding a cat you all can get along with, whether it is younger than your Mr. Dibbles or not.

Depending on the personality of the cat, even a kitten can do this. Just because the cat is older does not mean they will be at the top of the pecking order. That is something that is settled by the cats, themselves. Your best bet is to get a cat whose temperment you feel will blend well with your household, and maybe stock up on Feliway diffusers to help with the initial tensions.

Depends on the length of the cat. Longer cats have longer kittens ;).

Do those things really work? That’s one thing I was going to consider picking up if I do find a kitten I like, but they’re pretty expensive for something that seems a little, you know, woo-woo.

When we boarded our cats at the vet’s office so we could visit my parents for Christmas, they offered to put a diffuser in the room with them, if that tells you anything. The diffuser puts out pheromones that happy, content cats put out, helping put the cats at ease. A sort of chemical brainwashing, I suppose.

My sister has introduced new kittens and cats to her multi-cat household several times. She says that in her experience, kittens under 6 months old are more likely to be considered non-threatening by older cats and thus more likely to be accepted. She also uses that calming spray and says it seems to work.

Note, of course, “more likely.” With cats, y’never know for sure.

You want a adult non-dominate cat or adult ‘detached’ cat. A kitten can grow up to any and can switch personalities. A shelter which has cat colonies can help you find such a cat.

There are a few terms of detached cats, but basically how it sounds, this cat will find it’s own territory away from the others, in a non-confrontational but not submissive either. Usually these are the ones you will find sleeping on top of your refrigerator.


Just wait until the Muzak Corporation gets ahold of this and realigns it for retail and office workers…

I’m going to quibble with this just a bit. Not that anything you’ve said is wrong, strictly speaking. Just not universal.

Most of the sources I’ve read on the subject suggest that kittens (particularly neutered male kittens ) are generally the easiest to introduce into a household with a pre-existing cat. Both because the kitten will tend to be less interested in getting in a dominance struggle with an older resident and because adult cats are somewhat more often than not less threatened by an immature intruder.

Younger kittens in particular can be too active for an older cat and in such cases it is often suggested they be introduced in pairs, so as to take the pressure off the older cat to constantly play. That’s assuming you can handle that many cats ;).

Also the notion that kittens invariably change personalities as they age isn’t a universal truism either. Other than the normal maturation process ( i.e. less frenetically playfull ), my anecdotal experience doesn’t really match up with this. Nor does that of others I know. Of course you can find anecdotes to the contrary, but I believe this is a battle of anecdotes here, with little hard fact on either side. It seems most often when kittens undergo a radical behavior change it is for some environmental reason ( like introducing a new cat :slight_smile: ).

All of this isn’t to say that a kitten is an ideal choice as a new companion. It might not be - there is always the crapshoot factor and sometimes a mellow older cat might be best. But I wouldn’t rule it out.

As to kittenhood - most seem to peg it at anything under a year and that’s usually how I use the word. But physical maturity will vary. As noted sexual maturity usually comes earlier and male cats may not reach full size until they’re two, or a little longer for some of the bigger breeds ( though they’ll usually be 90% of the way by the time they’re one ). For example it is usually recommended that you feed kitten food for a full year, but if they start gaining excess weight after 6 or 9 months, then you should start switching them over to less calorie intense adult food.

Emotional maturity will vary a bit as well. But anything under two is definitely young and anything under 9 months probably is at least kittenish.

  • Tamerlane

Cats are always kittens to those of us who speak cat and understand catspeak. :wink:

My understanding is that at the end of the first year, the cat is the equivalent of 16, in human years. At the end of the second year, it’s the equivalent of 24. After that, they age at a rate of 4 human years for each cat year.

So a cat is a kitten for a little over a year.

Six months is the youngest most vets will spay/neuter, which I recommend for your peace. Some kittens mature earlier than that, and they’ll get into stupid teenage hotshot games to drive you and your earlier cats batty. You’ll be tempted to referee their rave-ups, fifteen yards for unsportsmanlike swatting. Don’t do it. Cats do a lot of sound and fury, but very little actual combat. Let them work out who is boss, and who is upstart. Cat games have been compared to Kabuki, because there is more loud ceremony than action.

6 months? Vets usually go on weight and not age when spaying/neutering kittens. I got mine fixed when he was barely 5 months and I felt it was waiting too long. I know when I worked in the shelter, the minute a kitten hit two pounds they were fixed. Of course that’s a slightly different situation but nonetheless, it’s more about weight than age with kittens.

Depends on the vet, apparently. Pediatric spay/neutering is the norm out in my area in every shelter that I’m aware of. But apparently a number of general practice vets still go by the more general “six month” guideline. Presumably because that used to be the norm and that was the way they were taught.

The “two pound” guideline seems to be the wave of the future, though.

  • Tamerlane

“Eat, Fluffy, eat! Those balls have got to go!”

By the time they weigh in excess of 25 pounds and loll on their backs, proudly displaying their Falstaffian bellies while licking a catnip filled toy held between their two front paws–

they’re no longer kittens.

I got my cat from the Humane Society shelter. Part of the contract is that I had to agree to get Freckles neutered at 6 months, and get his shots. Dr. Richard Chaille does this for the shelter for free, and 6 months is his rule as well. Dr. Rich was my regular vet, anyway, so it worked out fine.

I didn’t know about the 2-pound variance, until now.