The troublesome teenage phase is every parent’s challenge. And wouldn’t you know that applies to kittens, too!? As kittens reach about six months old, the wacky teenage phase begins, and like human kids, things always change. Oh well, they can’t stay tiny angelic kittens forever, right? But during this time, they will probably test everything and everyone around them.
On average, the teenage phase for a kitten lasts up to 3 years. Afterward, they tend to chill out with an adult’s comparatively mild manners. That’s why adopting a senior cat could be preferable in quiet homes where wild, zany teenage kittens could be overwhelming for some people. Others will love their unpredictable, goofy antics.
Why Do Teenage Kittens Act So Wild?
During the teenage phase, a kitten’s impulse control isn’t in place yet. Again, it’s exactly like kids, but also like many adults we know.
“Like a teenage human, a teenage cat has more development and activity in the limbic system compared to the prefrontal cortex,” says Feline Engineering.
Thus, there’s a biological reason for the wild antics. The prefrontal cortex of an adult cat gives them finer impulse control. But a teenage cat’s limbic system is all about instant gratification, snap judgments, and emotional responses. Not measured judgments based on experience. They simply don’t have the experience to go by yet anyway.
“Maz and Calypso are VERY demanding, and Maz as begun to launch herself up my legs too… def wakes you up fast!” shared Cole and Marmalade.
Until they figure it out and their brain matures, kittens’ behavior remains off-the-wall. Literally. Although it’s normal, it will be trying at times. But this, too, shall pass.
Create a Teenage Kitten Playground
The teenage phase is when we can expect cats to do things we would rather they don’t. Like getting on the kitchen counter or knocking over anything in sight that’s fragile. Instead of giving negative feedback, it’s time to further kitten-proof the home and encourage desirable behavior. Offering praise, treats, and pets are great ways to encourage them when they’re doing something you like.
And remember; you could try to make rules for a cat, but rules are always subject to change!
To help curb undesirable behaviors, give those wildcats an outlet: a kitten playground. Whenever possible, vary it up with new items. And, keep doors closed to off-limits rooms until the awkward teenage phase is over. They want to climb every mountain, so cat trees and scratching posts are your sofa’s best allies.
Along with teens, adult cats like playful Marmalade will enjoy the playground too!
Another idea is to try something new, like a treat scavenger hunt or a food puzzle they can play with for hours. We have so much fun introducing all sorts of new sensory experiences. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to keep kittens engaged but it’s essential to keep it new and interesting.
The Teenage Wildcat Phase
Teenage kittens want to push boundaries and buttons, although thankfully, they don’t have access to social media or smartphones.
Until they find out where the boundaries are, they will still get up to mischief.
“I’d say between 6 to 16 months, you’ve got a wildcat on your hands, and it can be amazing,” says Jackson Galaxy. “It’s so gratifying to be able to take your little one through this phase, even though you’ve got to put up with them swinging from the chandeliers sometimes.”
While many teenage kittens will be confident wildcats, others could become withdrawn, again like kids. If so, Galaxy suggests helping them find their “cat mojo” with lots of play to build confidence.
As with humans and other animals, teenage years might be when we discover our true purpose and place in life. So it’s important to patiently encourage and help as much as you can.
If you adopt a duo or trio of bonded kittens, they will teach one another “how to cat” along the way and give you a needed break as they run amok together. That’s why adopting a duo is generally easier overall.
If you have a newly-adopted cat, here’s what to expect for an average adjustment period for cats of any age.
See Jackson Galaxy discuss the teenage wildcat phase below, starting at 14:18:
Video by Jackson Galaxy:
Adult Cats Helping the Teenagers Learn to Cat
We love seeing how adult cats and even dogs help foster kittens learn about the world, boundaries, and how to cat. Sometimes, adopted former feral tomcats become ideal foster uncles for the little ones. Their experience with boundaries is essential knowledge for kittens as they become teenagers.
For example, former colony cat, Goldenballz Bond, was TNR’d (trap, neuter, released) by Cat Man Chris and Jess. But then, he became a purrmanent family member. Yet his life on the streets didn’t allow for him to safely explore his teen years or interact with other cats. But they knew a fearless kitten wouldn’t be hesitant to approach Bond. Hopefully this would bring him out if his shell, and they could “learn to cat” together.
Around 3 months old, Bond and the new kittens, Mazikeen and Calypso were introduced. Gradually, Bond became the cutest couple with housemate Calypso as she began her teen years. Since then, they’ve remained inseparable and have each other to “get the sillies” out during the most heartwarming play dates ever.
As Calypso has become a full-fledged teenager, her love story with Bond has only grown.
He’s her purrfect match and wrestling buddy, helping her navigate the teenage years with gusto! As a result, this wild child is a well-adjusted, happy cat.
The love story of Bond and Calypso