Recognizing When Your Kitten Has Become a Teenager.

So, there you are, suddenly dealing with a kitten who appears to have become bipolar. She starts climbing the walls and looking to escape every time you open a door. Your formerly mellow kitten is now spending her time loudly moaning, day and night. Male cats may begin showing up in your yard. Or, if your cat is a boy, he suddenly starts spraying the walls with urine. Ewwwww!

Curious cats can cause trouble!

It's not rocket science. It's puberty. And, here's what you need to know.

  • Unspayed female cats normally reach puberty at approximately 6 to 12 months of age. Breeds like Persians may be 10 months of age before reaching sexual maturity, whereas Oriental breeds such as Siamese cats tend to come into heat earlier. Your average male cat is about nine months of age when he begins producing sperm.
  • When in heat, a female cat displays a number of seemingly odd behaviors designed to help her find male partners. She typically becomes very vocal, her meowing can almost sound like cries of pain as her desire to mate becomes more urgent. She'll also behave more affectionately towards humans, rubbing around their legs and rolling submissively on the floor. Petting her near her hips can trigger a mating response, she'll position herself with her back legs slightly raised, putting herself in a swaybacked position, her tail tucked to one side. Now overwhelmed by the mating urge, your loveable kitten may try to escape, doing everything possible to get out of the house. If you had any doubts about getting her spayed, this should motivate you to call the vet and get an appointment scheduled.
  • Sexual maturity is expressed by male cats with the spraying of an especially pungent urine stream on vertical surfaces. This "territorial marking," is designed to attract females who are in heat while fending off competing male cats. Your formerly cooperative kitten will suddenly become a wily escape artist, prone to engage in potentially serious scrapes with other tomcats. Unneutered males will begin showing signs of thicker, fleshier padding on their cheeks, nature's way of buffering them against bites from male rivals. If the heinous odor of urine spray isn't compelling enough to get your boy cat fixed, the bills you get from the vet for fixing kitty up, after fights, will probably do the trick.
  • Owners who are motivated to get their kitten neutered or spayed before sexual maturity are typically spared the problems brought on by kitty's new romantic yearnings. Fixing your cat reduces the risk of injury and disease born of a new, more adventurous spirit. Unless you're a professional breeder, it's in you and your cat's best interest to get her or him fixed as early as ethically possible.

*Image courtesy to Free Digital Images