Cats have a shorter lifespan than humans and they age faster. For this reason, they are given a human equivalent age so that you can make a comparison of their life stage rather than compare their actual age to that of a human. For example, a fifteen-year-old human teenager is not fully mature and is in the first quarter of their life, but a fifteen-year-old cat is in their later years and their bodies have deteriorated accordingly. Here is how to calculate a cat age in cat years.
Why Should You Calculate Your Cat’s Age in Cat Years?
Understanding that cats age differently to humans is important as cats have different needs at each of their life stages. The nutritional needs change from when they area kitten to when they are a senior cat and they are more prone to certain health conditions as they become older. Making a direct comparison of the health of a cat to a human that is the same age in calendar years is not a fair comparison.
Making a Rough Calculation
A mistake that people often make is believing that both dogs and cats age seven years for every human calendar year. However, this is not the case and cats age faster in their earlier years than they do later in their life.
In its first year, a cat ages fifteen human years and 24 years by the time they have reached the age of two in human years. For every year after that, a cat will age approximately four cat years for every human year.
Indicators of a Cat’s Age in Cat Years
If you have your cat from birth or from when it was a young kitten, you can easily calculate its age using the method above. However, if you have taken in a stray or adopted a cat from a rescue shelter, you cannot use the same method to calculate the cat’s age in cat years. Instead, you should take a good look at their body as there are several indicators of a cat’s age in human years that will help you to calculate its age in cat years. These include:
- Teeth- A cat’s teeth are the first thing you should check as these change at different stages in a cat’s life. A kitten does not get teeth until they are between two or four weeks old. So, if you find an abandoned litter that has no teeth, they are under four weeks of age. A cat starts to get their permanent teeth at around four months. A cat with all their permanent teeth is probably around one and if there is slight staining, they may be two or three. A cat that has started to develop tartare build-up is probably between three and five, while severe tartare build-up means they are an older cat. Missing teeth is an indicator that the cat is a senior or geriatric cat.
- Coat- Younger cats usually have soft, fine coats. Older cats have thicker and coarser coats. Senior cats sometimes have gray patches or silvery hairs.
- Muscle tone- Younger cats are more active and have better muscle definition. Older cats have less muscle tone, and this can mean they have looser skin or bones that appear to protrude from their body.
- Eyes- A young cat has bright, clear eyes with a smooth iris. Older cats sometimes have a jagged iris and cats over 12 years often have some cloudiness. Eye discharge is also common in older cats.
The Lifespan of Cats
The lifespan of a cat depends on several factors. These include their general health, their breed, their living conditions, genetic factors, and whether they experience any traumas in their life. Most domestic cats that live indoors with their owners will live between 12 and 18 years. However, there are many that live into their 20s and there are even documented cases of cats living into their 30s.
It is important to note that outdoor cats have a significantly lower life expectancy than indoor cats. This is because they face a greater number of risks, such as vehicles, human cruelty, poisons, diseases, traps, and attacks from other animals. Cat owners are strongly encouraged to keep their cat indoors, especially if they live in urban areas.