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When are pets considered adults?

Kittens and puppies grow up fast. One minute they're small, fluffy balls of fur, and the next minute they're taking up your entire sofa.

Young animals are full of seemingly boundless energy. Young pets may sprint from room to room as they explore the world around them, sniffing, scratching and chewing along the way. All of this can be adorable for the first few months, but many pet owners are left scratching their heads wondering when their pets are going to "grow up" and be less of a full-time job.

The pet resource Rover.com says that puppies are generally considered adults by the time they reach their first birthday. This may vary depending on the breed. The home life guide TheNest.com says that kittens take about a year to reach adulthood.

Just because a cat or dog is considered an adult does not mean he or she will behave more maturely. In fact, adulthood often means the pet simply won't grow any more. Many behavioral issues associated with young animals may continue into adulthood.

A pet's journey to emotional maturity can take quite a while, but it will come. Hormonal surges will even out, and the animal will begin to settle down. Only when that point is reached will pet owners get an idea of what their animals will be like over the long haul.

It can take a cat up to four years to reach emotional maturity. Dogs' journeys to maturity will vary depending on the breed and the size of the animal. The pet food company Pedigree says a large dog breed will mature into an adult between 15 months and two years, while smaller breeds may only act like puppies for nine months.

Since emotional maturity varies from pet to pet, these signs may indicate it has happened or is just about there:

• Settles down more readily and has fewer episodes of "the zoomies."

• Listens better.

• Responds to social cues from other animals.

• Older animals treat the animal like an adult.

• Responds appropriately to training.

• Doesn't get into the same level of puppy or kitty trouble around the house.

Even as cats and dogs mature physically and emotionally, they may still have some bouts of youngster behavior. But in general, after a year or two pets start to show their true colors and behave more maturely.

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