As the owner of a cat, you might be trying to work out what age your cat is. This is very common, as cat years can be quite a complex thing to work out. While it would just be easy if our pets could fit into our own sense of time and years, they simply do not fit in with the same age brackets that we provide.
When someone tells you that a cat is 10 years of age, it does not mean that it has lived for ten human years. That is the challenge that many people can find when they take a cat on; they can find it hard to determine how old their kitty is.
Whether you have taken on a new kitten or you have had a cat in the family for years, working out their age can be tough. In this guide, though, we will try to give you a rough idea of how cat years translate to human years. It can be tough to work out, so this guide will look to try and give you a rough idea of what you are looking at.
However, you should be aware that cat ages are not easy to work out. There are still many debates within the animal caring community as to how to best work out the age of a cat. Much like the age of a dog in human years, there is often debate and discussion around the best steps to take if you want to make sure the age is correctly worked out.
Many cat owners will simply deduce the age of their pet based on very basic factors like the year they bought the feline. For a more accurate idea of how to work this out, though, read on.
The rapid ageing of a young cat
Like dogs, there used to be a general belief that a cat would age seven years for every one human year. However, more studies and research has found this to not be the case at all. Indeed, cats, like dogs, tend to age quite rapidly in their first two human years of life. The old rule of seven for one has been mostly disproven. Indeed, some now believe it was a good marketing technique back in the day for veterans to make sure that people would always remember to bring their pets to the vet once a year.
Whether that is the case or not, we will never know. What we do know, though, is that a cat can reach the human age of around 24 by the time they reach their second year. This happens because in the first human year of life a cat can make up as many as 15 human years in terms of growth, maturity etc.
By the end of year two, another nine human years have passed in terms of their ageing and their growth. So, by two years in, a cat is practically an adult!
This is vital to understand, as many people do not realise this fact. If you have a kitty cat at home and it is two years of age, it will most likely be one of the oldest people in your house. Instead of going for the old 7-for-1 ‘ rule’ that would mean your cat is a moody teenager of around 14 by this age, you need to add more time on.
However, as cats reach their third year, this rapid ageing process can slow down a little so your cat won’t be a mid-30s cat by the time it reaches age 3!
Working out the age of your cat
The year of your cat is a tough thing to determine, as the various factors that can impact the age of a cat can be hard to follow along with. Every cat’s age can be determined a little differently based on key factors. This includes things like their weight, their lifestyle, and their general breed.
For the most part, a cat reaching age 3 will have aged ‘just’ four human years from age 2-3. This means that by age 3 they should be around 28. For the most part, after age two each cat year is like four human years. So, a cat which is aged 15 in human years could be around the equivalent of a human who is about 75-76 years old!
A cat that reaches age 20 can be as old as 96 in human years. 25 years, seen as the absolute maximum for a cat to live in most circles, would be a sprightly 116 in human years. So, as you can see, the way that a cat will age is quite different to a human.
However, while those first few years might have you worrying your cat is going to be a pensioner by age 5, it is not really like this.
After those first two years of rapid and impressive development, a cat slows down to a rate smaller than that of the average dog. Keep this in mind, as many people do not realise that their cat ages so fast from day one until year two and then begins to take a more gradual descent.
Still, four human years per year is tough work for a cat. As they age, you should definitely keep an eye out for potential health issues.
Determining the age of a cat
If you took a cat on before it was born or you took in a stray, working out their age is a bit of a mystery. You could take it to a pet store or a veterinarian, but they will be mostly guessing to try and understand the age. There are, though, some important clues that can give you a better idea about the age of a cat.
The most decisive factor is their teeth. The older a cat is, the more stained their teeth can look. A cat that looks like it is wearing a set of comedy all-white dentures is likely to be within its first year of life. A cat that has some yellowing – particularly at the top of the teeth – is likely to be around age 2. If you start to notice your cat has kind of dirty, tartar-covered teeth, it could be as old as five years of age. However, this can also be caused by a rather gluttonous diet in a younger cat.
Also, some people groom their cats and part of the grooming process can involve a good cleaning of their teeth. So, an older cat could have good quality teeth due to the fact they have been cared for. By the same token, do not assume that a cat with missing teeth is some old cat; cats can lose teeth through health issues, through dental care, and through physical altercations.
Keep that in mind, then, as the age of your cat is best determined by also evaluating the quality of their coat. The thickness and coarseness of a cats coat will change over time. Another clear visual indicator of the age of a cat is the signs of grey in their coat; just like humans, cats begin to go a little bit grey as they reach their later stage of life.
Other discussions in feline ageing
There are various debates going on in the cat community as to what constitutes the clear signs of a cat that is getting on a bit in life. The first thing that you should be looking out for, generally, is the signs of their lifestyle. Some argue that an outdoors cat is more likely to age differently than a more domesticated indoor cat. However, this is a top that is always discussed with some controversy and there is no major agreement between all parties.
Indoor cats are far less likely to experience the kind of infectious illness and physical altercations that could shorten their life. Life at home is naturally going to be much easier for an indoor cat, while outdoor cats live a generally more rebellious and dangerous life.
However, being indoors all the time can be the equivalent of a human basically sitting in a chair all day, every day. It is going to accelerate the signs of ageing and it could be more likely to see the cats become more susceptible to illness and the like.
There is, then, no 100% agreed on reason for how a cat ages. The most agreed-upon ratio, though, is the 15-9-4 ratio that we explained above. After year three of life, a cat is pretty wise and experienced; even with immaculate teeth, you should be able to tell a cat that is aged 3 from a cat that is under the age of 1.
Using the above, though, you should be able to work out what kind of age range your cat is most likely to fall into. This can make it much easier to then prepare for things like health issues, physical care, and other forms of assistance to keep your cat as happy as you can into its senior years.