Your 12 Week Old Kitten: Mental and Physical Development
Learning Capabilities of the 12 Week Old Kitten
At 12 weeks of age, kittens in the wild are beginning to experiment with their independence away from their mother. To help your kitten quickly adapt to a life on his own, keep in mind that a 12 week old kitten is like a sponge -- he absorbs everything in his environment and acquires new knowledge at a rapid rate.
Although your 12 week old kitten lives in your home, his learning abilities at this age are no different than those of a kitten in the wild. At this stage, your kitten wants to know everything they can about himself and his environment. You may notice that your kitten seems extremely curious and playful at this time, or that he is suddenly trying to explore places he never did before. While it may seem like your little kitten has become quite mischievous, this stage usually lasts for no longer than a few weeks.
How to Read Food Labels
Growing kittens should be fed the best food possible, but with the dozens of kitten foods on the market today, choosing the right one can be a daunting task for a pet owner. However, once you are able to understand the cryptic food labels on these packages, you can begin to sort out the right food for your kitten's diet.
Any commercial pet food fed to your kitten should be labeled with a stamp by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), an organization that has specific rules and regulations that pet food manufacturers must follow. Next, check for foods that have high amounts of protein (the first ingredient listed should be a meat).
Be cautious of foods that are labeled as dinners or platters; many of these foods contain smaller percentages of meat. Kitten foods labeled "premium" usually contain higher amounts of calories, meats and fats, and they are often easier to digest.
Health and Veterinary Care for Your 12 Week Old Kitten: Second Combination Shot and First Feline Leukemia Shot
Your kitten is now 12 weeks old, so she's most likely due for her second veterinary visit. This time she will receive another combination shot, containing feline panleukopenia, feline herpesvirus (rhinotracheitis), and feline calicivirus vaccinations.
If your 12 week old kitten will eventually become an indoor/outdoor cat, she will also need the first vaccine in a two-shot series for feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Feline leukemia virus is an immuno-suppressive disease that is transmitted via contact with the saliva or blood of infected cats. There is no cure, and 85 percent of these cats will die within three years of their diagnosis.
Depending on your state's individual regulations, your veterinarian might recommend that your 12 week old kitten also get her rabies vaccination now.
- Pet Vet Condition: Panleukopenia Virus
- Pet Vet Condition: Feline Herpes Virus
- Pet Vet Condition: Feline Calicivirus
- Pet Vet Condition: Feline Leukemia Virus
- Petside's Kitten Vaccination Calendar
Training Your 12 Week Old Kitten: Clawing Behavior
At three months old, your kitten may begin exhibiting clawing behavior. It is actually normal for a kitten to want to scratch and claw on furniture or the carpet. The kitten is not only sharpening her claws, she is marking her territory using the scent glands in her paws.
To minimize this behavior, provide multiple scratching posts of varying heights and materials. To introduce her to her new post, take her over to it and offer praise and a treat or toy. Never yell at her when she attempts to scratch the furniture; instead, quietly pick her up and place her on the scratching post, and then praise her.
You can also try Feliway® spray on the furniture. This is a pheromone spray which tricks the kitten into thinking she has already marked the furniture.
If all else fails, you can purchase glue-on soft, plastic caps (one brand is Soft Paws®) that cover the 12 week old kitten's toenails. The kitten will still attempt to scratch, but will be unable to do any damage to furniture. These glue-on caps are typically reapplied monthly.