Old cat lays on the couch.

How To Determine Your Cat's Age


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When you adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue, little things like the years of age may be a bit fuzzy. Here is how you can determine the age of a cat.

Pet owners are always trying to figure out how old their pets are in people years. Even non-dog owners have heard the old adage that one human year is equal to seven dog years. Though that is a commonly held belief, it's not exactly true. There are a lot of factors that go into how old a pet is in human years. But, dog owners aren't the only ones who do this. Many owners ask, well, what about our feline friends? How does their age translate to human years?

But what if you don't exactly know how old your cat is? Sometimes we adopt from a rescue or a friend and don't know exactly when their birthday is. So, how can we determine a cat's age outside of taking Fluffy to the vet? From there, we can see what that translates into human years. But, that leads to another conundrum. Is there a "one-size-fits-all formula" that can easily compare feline years to human years? So, whether you just brought home your feline friend from the shelter whose history is a bit mysterious, or you're trying to provide better life-stage appropriate care for your cat's life, we've got you covered when answering the question "how old is my cat?"

How Old Is My Cat?

Cute young cat playing in a garden

Kelvinjay via Getty Images

RELATED: 5 Ways to Improve Your Cat's Quality of Life

There are several telltale signs you can be looking for when it comes to determining how old your cat is.  It makes a big difference if they are an indoor or outdoor cat. Typically, indoor cats will have a longer lifespan. But, because of genetics, cat health can vary from pet to pet.

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One of them is checking the cat's teeth. Since they get their baby teeth around two to four weeks old and should have their full set of adult teeth at six to seven months of age, their teeth are often one of the best indicators of their age. Also, older cats tend to have more tartar build-up than their younger counterparts. However, dental care can play a huge part in the state of their teeth, so the amount of tartar might not be the best indicator. That goes the same for missing teeth: missing teeth may mean that it's a senior cat, but it might be because of other reasons.

Looking at a cat's eyes is another way to determine its age. Young cats will have very bright and clear eyes, while adults may start to develop a bit of cloudiness in their eyes; this won't really be noticeable until the cat reaches about ten years of age, though.

Your feline's coat can also indicate how old your kitty is. For example, kittens will have fine and oh-so-soft fur, while older cats will have thicker and coarser fur. The coat may also change colors as they age, becoming lighter or darker in the shade, and much like humans, senior cats may even develop patches of white or gray hairs.

Lastly, muscle tone is another indicator to determine your cat's age. Typically, younger cats are more muscular, while older cats are often bonier, with extra skin or protruding shoulder bones as they age. However, this can also depend on your cat's activity level.

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Now, after you determine your furry friend's age like a pro, you can always use a cat age calculator to find out just how old Fluffy is in human years! According to the AAFP & AAHA guidelines, the first year of their life is equivalent to a 15-year-old human. They are about 24 years old by human standards at the end of their second year. At this age, they are known as juniors. From there, they progress to their prime, which is 3-6 years old, and mature, which is 7-10 years old. Senior is 11-14 years of age, and geriatric is 15 years plus. If a kitty makes it to 25 years old, they are as old as a 116-year-old human. I would say that is a good long life.

Have you had to find out your feline friend's age? Share your experience on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

This article was originally published on Apr 20, 2021.

READ MORE: 5 Ways to Improve Your Cat's Quality of Life

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