The Prime Years of Life:
At 3 to 6 years of life, these years are often considered the period of time where a cat moves in to true adulthood. A cat’s true “purr-sonality” becomes set during this period. Social issues amongst household cats may become more obvious now. Seek professional help should you notice inter-cat aggression, fighting between certain members of your household, or marking and house soiling behaviors. These should never be ignored as bad behavior can become ingrained. A professional consult with your veterinarian is the best place to start should you notice either of these problems cropping up in your household.
Kitties in this age group will continue to play and in fact should be encouraged to play vigorously. New objects enrich their environment and give their senses a workout. Consider bringing an empty shipping box, such as a paper carton, home from work occasionally to give kitty a new toy and place to play hide and seek. Cats in this age group tend to be curious and less fearful of new objects and so often love boxes and bags brought in from outside the home. Although paper bags are enjoyable, we recommend avoiding plastic bags and cutting the handles on paper bags off for safety purposes.
Play with toys and new objects not only enriches Kitty’s environment but it also encourages activity that will help keep her healthy. Kitties in this age group often add on a few extra pounds and so activity can head off this unwanted weight gain. Consider teaching Kitty a new skill such a “fetch” or adding a laser pointer or narrow beam flash light to her “toy box.”
Cats in this age group often miss routine veterinary care. They seem so “care free” during this period that many care-givers don’t think of taking their charges to the vet. However, this is the perfect age for the veterinarian to collect baseline data on Kitty. Things such as Body Condition Scale and weight will help the doctor assess Kitty’s health later as she ages. This is also the perfect age for the doctor to check routine blood work, thereby establishing a baseline health profile.
Dental disease is the number one health problem found with this age group. Often a combination of genetics, nutrition in the womb, exposure to disease, and early nutrition in kittenhood combine to cause dental problems that can have long term health ramifications. Veterinarians and their teams will work to head these health problems off with routine examination and dental cleanings. Again, it is the perfect age to establish a baseline of health, including very important dental health.
(Taken in part from the AAFP Feline Life Stages Guidelines.)