Kittens are adorable.Big eyes, upright ears, a tail that sticks straight up, a fuzzy coat, and over-sized paws all combine together to make us say, "Awww." The popularity of kitten videos online is proof of their appeal (should any proof be necessary). Kittens do grow up, however, and that adorable kitten will turn into a teenager. Teenage kittens are not babies anymore and yet aren't adult cats either. If your kitten is ever going to get into trouble, this is when it's going to happen.
From Ten to Fourteen Months is the WorstMost kittens edge into adolescence at about ten months of age. This can vary, though, depending on the kitten. My orange tabby, Kirk, was actually closer to a year when I saw the adolescent changes in his behavior. However, ten months is the most common age. As a general rule, this worst of this teenage stage lasts about four to six months, with individual variances here, too, of course. Kirk is about fourteen months old now and I'm seeing a lessening of his adolescent behaviors even though he's only been in this stage a couple of months. Your kitten won't be fully mature, mentally and physically, until she's about two years old and you'll see some silly behaviors throughout this time.
Behaviors Signal a ChangeMost owners see behavior changes as a sign that their kitten is becoming a teenager, as I did. The first thing that caught my attention was zooming from one end of the house to another. Kirk, as a kitten, often made mad dashes here and there. Those dashes are normal and I look upon them as good exercise for the growing kitten. But almost to the day that Kirk turned a year old, he would make mad full speed dashes from the front of the house, down the hall, to the back bedroom and then back again. A strong, healthy teenage kitten is incredibly fast! Thankfully he never caused any damage to himself, the house, or anyone else so I just stayed out of his way—as did my dogs. Some teenage kittens become destructive during this time of their life. If scratching poles or cat trees are not easily available, this is when many cats begin clawing up furniture or shredding drapes. Having more than one cat tree and spacing them throughout the house is a great idea. If your teenager likes catnip, use it on the cat trees to make them more appealing and refresh it often. Don't be surprised if your feline teenager decides to chew on other things. Shoes are often a target as are papers. Many cat owners have said that there seems to be no rhyme nor reason to the destructiveness; and although that's true, I do think items the owner touches frequently seem to be targeted most often. Thankfully, cats don't have the large teeth and strong jaw strength that most puppies have, so the destruction is nowhere as bad as it can be with dogs. At this time, play becomes serious for kitten adolescents and you might find that claws are used more in play. Your kitten might have played with you with sheathed claws earlier, but your teenager may use her claws more. You might find her using her teeth, too. In these instances, simply stop the play as soon as the claws or teeth are used. Or, if you can recognize the signs, stop the play before your cat gets to that point of over-stimulation.