For those of you who adopted a kitten over the holidays, you may soon find your precious ball of fluff in the throws of what I call, ‘the terrible three’s.”  It’s the kitten version of the terrible two’s in toddlers and if you’ve never had a kitten can be a very trying time. The good news though is that most kittens outgrow it.

The terrible three’s start, generally, when the kitten is about 12 weeks old. Suddenly, your kitten has gone from cute and cuddly to a little monster almost overnight and they are into everything. What is happening is your kitten has reached an age where they’ve figured out they can do just about anything and get just about anywhere they want…so they do.

Over the years, I’ve had people who have adopted kittens at 8wks call me one or two months later, frantic.  “She’s climbing my curtains!” or “I caught her leaping from the coffee table to my hanging plant!”  or “She jumped onto the dinner table and stole a pork chop off my plate!”  Those are not exaggerations. Those are actual phone calls.

This past summer, my local shelter called and asked me to foster two 3wk old kittens that had been abandoned, one black, one white. I named them Jasmine and Jade. Jade turned out to be the relatively calm one. Jasmine, however, is into everything as these videos show.


There are a number of things you can do during the terrible three’s to get you through. First, this time in a kitten’s life is a very good teaching time. One good teaching tool I use is a spray bottle filled with water.

Keep that spray bottle handy and whenever you catch your kitten about to do something inappropriate, simply squirt them with water and say “No!.” They don’t like it, it gets your point across, and it doesn’t hurt them.

Provide lots of toys of different varieties to keep them interested and occupied. Any kind of climber, along with little cubbies, an empty box that you throw their toys in for them to retrieve, and interactive toys like laser pointers and feather sticks will help minimize their desire to get into things they shouldn’t.

Allow for some outdoor time.  If you are lucky enough to have a backyard with a high fence your cat can’t jump over, let your kitten have some outside time everyday. It gives your kitten/cat a chance to be who and what they really will watch them “come alive” so to speak as they explore the garden, sniffing flowers, catching a bug, and you’ll have fewer problems in the house because kitten will be worn out from her backyard adventures.  Habitat Haven’s web site has great photos of enclosures for your backyard if you don’t feel comfortable letting your kitten/cat roam freely in the backyard.

If you live in the city and have a balcony, you can still give your cat some outdoor time by installing an outdoor enclosure.  Check these out at Habitat Haven:

The good news is, your kitten will grow out of the terrible three’s and by six months, will begin to calm down.  ..assuming you make that appointment with your vet to get your kitten spayed or neutered. If not, you will have a whole other set of problems on your hands…and that’s another blog.