VCA Animal Hospitals

What should I expect for my cat's first year?

Published: Oct 26, 2012

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Whether you adopted your kitten or chose her from a litter, you are probably delighted to have a tiny fluff ball running around at home. As exciting as this time is for cat lovers, it's important to remember a few things to help your kitten grow into a strong, healthy and happy cat. Here is what you can expect in the first year of your cat's life.

8-12 weeks
A kitten will begin weaning from her mom as young as four weeks old, and can be separated entirely (that is, brought home with you) when she is between eight and 10 weeks, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Around this age, your cat is not only independent from her mother, she is ready to test out some of her innate stalking and preying abilities on you - this is the time they start to kick in, according to Animal Planet. Your kitten will also form a strong attachment to you during this time.

3-6 months
By the time your kitten is between the ages of 3 and 6 months, you may have noticed she is fiercely independent but needs plenty of attention. Keep an eye out for safety and don't miss the opportunities for play - this will engage your kitten in exercise while forming a closer bond with you. This is also the age to bring your feline to the vet for kitten vaccines. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, kittens should be getting the last of the three doses of the core vaccinations to protect against feline distemper, feline herpes virus 1, calicivirus and rabies.

This is also the time when most veterinarians recommend spaying a cat. Female cats can be spayed any time after they are 2 to 3 weeks old, and it's ideal to get the procedure done before the cat's first heat period, which usually begin between 5 to 6 months of age.

6-9 months
Your feline will continue to grow as it reaches 9 months, and Animal Planet recommends feeding cats twice a day with at least two ounces of food during this stage in kittenhood. However, be careful not to feed your cat too much, as cat obesity can begin to develop around this age. Male cats should also be neutered around this time to prevent them from spraying their urine.

9-12 months
Your kitten is now a cat! Continue giving her the love and care she deserves with regular visits to the vet to ensure a long and happy life together. 


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.