Mental and Physical Development
Beginnings of Sexual Behavior At six months, your kitten is now a teenager who will begin to exhibit mood swings and sexual behavior. This is the time when many pet owners wonder if spaying or neutering will change their kitten's nature and behavior.
Not spaying or neutering your maturing kitten will most likely result in feline behavior that you won't like. This behavior can range from restlessness and howling during a female cat's heat cycle, to a male's tendency to roam, fight and spray urine to attract females. Spay or neuter surgery, on the other hand, will not only curb the negative behavior, it will transform your maturing kitten's personality and behavior in profoundly positive ways.
After recovering from surgery, you can generally expect your kitten to be more affectionate, relaxed and enjoyable to be around. Instead of being driven by hormones, your kitten will enjoy improved health and have a lot more time to focus on you. (See "Health and Veterinary Care" below for more information on these procedures.)
Overeating and Portion Control While a kitten's growth rate and metabolism begin to slow down at six months of age, its appetite does not change at all. As a result, kittens can start to put on extra weight at this time if their owners are not regulating the amount of food they eat.
To help your kitten maintain a healthy body condition at this time, measure out your kitten's daily food portion and separate the food amount into two to three meals.
Kittens may become obsessed with eating if they are without food for long hours during the day. Kittens may also eat their entire daily food portion all at once. It is best to break the feedings up into three meals a day served in the morning, afternoon and evening. Multiple feedings will ensure that your kitten does not finish its entire daily portion by noon, which will fend off late-day hunger pains.
Health and Veterinary Care: Spaying and Neutering
If your kitten came from a shelter, then they are likely already "fixed." If not, now is an appropriate time to schedule this surgery with your veterinarian.
Neutering is when the testicles of a male kitten are removed. The resulting decrease in testosterone blunts the kitten's desire to roam in search of females, decreases the urge to fight with other cats, and either stops or minimizes spraying behavior.
Spaying is when the ovaries and uterus of a female cat are removed, so that she can't reproduce. It will stop her from going through heat cycles (during which she is loud and feels anxious) as well as decrease her desire to spray. This surgery may also prolong her life by reducing her risk for cancer.
Spaying or neutering your kitten will help to control the pet overpopulation problem by preventing litters of unwanted kittens. This surgery is very common and is perfectly safe. Consult with your veterinarian for more information.
Training: Traveling with Kittens
Whether you are traveling with your kitten by car or plane, there are a few important measures that you can take to ensure that your kitten is safe during the trip.
Keep your kitten in a pet carrier and do not tranquilize your kitten for the trip. Because kittens may become dehydrated when they travel, make sure that you offer your kitten plenty of fresh water to stay hydrated.
In the event of an accident, your kitten will have a lower chance of becoming injured or lost if it is contained in a pet carrier. While it was once a standard procedure to tranquilize pets before travel, research has shown that pets fair much better when they are not sedated. Tranquilization medications can cause harmful side effects such as constipation, confusion, aggression and nausea, and they may also interfere with an animal's ability to regulate its temperature.