When is a kitten a cat? Survey finds owners split on the answer

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You might have noticed that kitten season is in full swing. I sure have. More on that in a second…

First, though, according to Michelson Found Animals, kitten season runs from March through October. For more on kitten season, visit; https://www.foundanimals.org/everything-need-know-kitten-season/

Where I live, which is a rural area, cat and kitten sightings lately are at an all-time high, unfortunately. It’s likely some of the cats have been abandoned, and others are allowed to roam (unspayed or unneutered). I stopped twice recently — once on the side of the road, and another time in the grocery store parking lot, to try and help small kittens I saw running around loose, but they both fled.

About a week ago, a kitten even showed  up at  my doorstep. Not by itself, but with the help of my neighbor. The wee little kitten, whom I’m estimating is about four weeks old and small for its age, likely due to malnourishment or lack of care, was found in the street by neighbor who was driving home during tropical storm Elsa. Unable to keep the kitten, she brought it to me. (By the way, if you’re trying to figure out the age of a kitten in weeks, here’s a great link from Alley Cat Allies, which provides very helpful pictures and descriptions: https://www.alleycat.org/resources/kitten-progression/)

I told her I didn’t think that a kitten that tiny and in that bad of shape stood a lot of chance. Besides being soaking wet, it was bleeding due to a cut on its chin and appeared to have another injury to its leg, perhaps from being thrown out of a moving car.

But, in spite of my caution, this little bean of a kitten has since been surprising the heck out of me. She eats constantly and is growing quickly. She’s very sweet and also plays with cat toys.


She gets better every day and is going to be beautiful. Just look at those eyes. And caring for her has been a lot of work, including getting up in the middle of the night to feed her, but, as you can see, I get paid in neck nuzzles and kisses…so, it’s worth it.

kitten on my shoulder

I wasn’t really in the market for a kitten, or any other new pet for that matter. I was instead focusing on caring for my four dogs, two cats and the chickens that I have. Not to mention hopefully doing some overnight trips during the summer months without having to worry too much about the animals while I’m away. But, I can’t turn away an animal in need, especially one that has so much zest for life.

Anyway, speaking of kittens, according to Purina, knowing how long a cat is considered a kitten is crucial to ensure they receive all the nutrients needed for growth and development in their diet. (I know I personally have been doing a lot of research to figure out what my kitten needs to get and keep her in optimal health after such a rough start).

A Purina survey, released today, found that nearly all kitten owners accurately identify their youngest cat as a kitten based on an age of less than 12 months, but that not all owners agree about when a kitten technically becomes a cat. (18% believe their cats are considered kittens for six months, 20% believe they are kittens for 12 months, and the remaining kitten owners are scattered across a year.)

Cats are generally considered kittens for the first 12 months of their life and should be fed a kitten food for that year, according to Dr. Callie Harris, DVM, a veterinarian at Purina.

“After a year, a kitten has matured into an adult cat and can be transitioned to adult food formulas,” Harris said in a press release from Purina.

“However, some larger breed cats, like the Maine Coon, may need to be fed kitten food for longer. I always recommend consulting your vet if you have specific questions about how long to feed kitten food.”

The 2021 Kitten Owner Survey by Purina surveyed 1,000 kitten owners in the United States.

Among other key findings:

•While the majority of kitten owners prefer dry food (30%) or a combination of dry and wet food (28%), kittens tend to prefer wet food (26%).
•Nearly half of owners (48%) compromise by feeding their kittens a mixture of wet and dry food
•Most owners (91%) are open to the idea of including variety in their kitten’s diet, and 81% of owners believe that introducing their kitten to different foods will make them less picky in the future

“In feeding kittens a diet comprised of different flavors and textures, their owners are also helping them develop their palates and preventing them from exclusively preferring a single type of food over time,” said Dr. Annie Valuska, Ph.D., senior feeding behavior expert at Purina. “The more variety in a kitten’s diet, the more adaptable they will be to diet changes when they get older.”

For more, visit Purina.com/kitten

And, for more updates on the kitten, keep checking in with wowmypetdidthat.com. 🙂


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