Mood swings, stubbornness, hyperactivity... Cats can go through a teen crisis of their own! Here's a a short explanation of this adolescent phase and some tips about how to deal with it as a cat parent.
It might not just be your teenager that's going through a teen crisis. Welcome to world of cat adolescence!
Teen crisis or cat puberty?
Similar to humans, cats also experience adolescence - the time of transition between 'kittenhood' and becoming a full developed adult cat.
Typically, the period begins between about four and eight months old, however as the activity of the sex glands relates to growth they may start earlier or later. Siamese, Oriental, and Singapura breeds often begin the transition earlier than other breeds, usually at about four months old.
When puberty begins, females go into heat while males begin marking their territory. Changes in behaviour can become more difficult to manage for both cat and cat parent. What does this look like?
Female cats in heat will meow frequently (often known as caterwauling), and rub themselves up against furniture, other household items, and their parent. This generally lasts for a period of about 1-3 weeks, which can prove challenging to owners. The increase in hormones can also be stressful to an unmated cat.
While quieter, male behaviour can be just as challenging, if not more difficult to manage; it's not uncommon for them to deposit drops of urine around their environment. This can include on or around furniture, such as beds and sofas. The problem here? Cat urine is a particularly difficult smell to eliminate!
Puberty in cats is generally easier to manage than in dogs; hormonal changes are less likely to impact on overall behaviour and relationships.
In addition to behavioural changes noted above, cats can experience mood swings that may see them shift from sweet and cuddly, to distant, to sweet and cuddly all in a matter of minutes. If you notice these distinct changes, be affectionate but try not to overstimulate your cat, and also be mindful of when they want space.
As is the natural instinct of most animal species, cats who are able to reproduce are driven by hormones designed to produce offspring and thus ensure the survival of their species. It can be challenging to manage as a pet parent, especially as females in heat can quickly attract an unneutered male with their hormonally-charged caterwauling. You may not have much chance to stop such attraction with an equally hormone-driven male!
Adolescent mood swings typically peter out into adulthood, at around 1-2 years old. However, unspayed females will continue to go into heat regularly, while unneutered males will continue depositing their urine. Unless you intend to breed your cat, it is highly recommended to sterilise your animal.
A quick and simple procedure, sterilisation will stop the various behaviours associated with cats in heat. Additionally, the procedure can also reduce the risk of uterine tumours and cancers in female cats, while also reducing hormonal stress and behaviours associated with both unsterilised male and female cats.
Has your cat gone through a teen crisis of their own?