Your Cat's Adult Years - What to Expect
Congratulations! You've made it through your cat's kittenhood and are ready to settle down with your grown cat. That's partly true, but just because he's passed the one year mark doesn't magically make him mature.
Mentally, your yearling is far from an adult. He's still playful and mischievous and testing to see just what his limits with you are. Don't forget your kitten proofing---he is still apt to find plenty of trouble around the house!
Depending on his ultimate size, he may still have some growing to do. Some breeds, such as Maine Coon Cats, may grow gradually for the next year. He should be eating adult food by now, even if he may have some growing yet to do. Because he's not growing at the rate he was as kitten, he won't need quite as much food, but he should still eat twice a day if possible. Keep an eye out for signs of chubbiness; it's better to catch the tendency to gain too much weight early rather than have to try to get the weight off once it's on.
Your cat still needs plenty of exercise as a young adult. Encourage him to play several times a day. By rotating toys so he plays with one some days and another on other days, he won't lose interest as readily.
He should receive a booster vaccination one year following his last kitten vaccinations, or at around 15 to 16 months of age. Rabies boosters may be required every one or three years, depending on local law. Your veterinarian can advise you of the proper protocol for other core and non-core vaccines, as your cat's lifestyle and even the part of the country you live in can make his needs different from another cat's. Even at this comparatively young age, cats can suffer from many medical problems, including allergies, digestive problems, diabetes, kidney problems, heart problems and cancer, among many others. Catching them early can make the difference between your cat living a long life or succumbing to a disease that could have been managed.
You should be keeping your cat well-groomed, including cutting his claws as needed. You should be brushing his coat down to the skin at least weekly, more for longhaired cats inclined to mat. If not, mats can form that pull the skin tight, trap moisture and debris, and make life miserable for your cat. If you can't groom him, take him to a groomer and consider a short haircut. You should also be checking his ears to make sure they are clean; if they're filled with debris or have bad odor, it's time for a veterinary visit. Finally, you should be brushing his teeth every day. Most cat owners neglect this task, or just do it once in a while, but recent research has shown that occasional brushing is not effective in keeping teeth clean and gums healthy. If you don't brush your cat's teeth, your veterinarian may need to clean them under anesthesia as frequently as once a year. Otherwise, your cat can develop gun disease that could be very painful and unhealthy.
By two to three years of age, your cat has very likely matured into a real companion, energetic enough to be up for your games but calm enough to settle down beside you. He will become more calm and dependable with each successive year---although some do so more slowly than others. He can still learn plenty of new tricks, and you should make a special effort to regularly teach him something new. You should also encourage him to play at least once a day.
Cats age at different rates, but as a general guideline, a 1-year-old cat is equivalent to a 15-year-old person; a 2-year-old cat is equivalent to a 15-year-old person; a 4-year-old cat is equivalent to a 32-year-old person; a 7-year-old to a 44-year-old person; an 11-year-old cat to a 60-year-old person; and a 15-year-old cat to a 76-year-old person. By the age of twelve, most cats are considered geriatric, even though they may not act it yet. Nonetheless, by that time you need to start treating him as an older cat and taking proper precautions to ensure he has many senior years.