Calculating Your Cat’s Age

Portrait of bengal cat close-upMany people wonder how to tell a cat’s age, and since a cat can’t just up and tell you their birthday, this feat becomes a guessing game for many cat owners. Many times, veterinarians are able to take an educated guess at the age of a cat, but this isn’t necessarily always right. There are a few ways to predict the age of your cat, whether they’re a young kitten or an older cat. Here, we’re going to give you some tips and tricks to figure out the age of your cat, and understanding what you can expect from that age.

Checking Their Teeth

Kittens grow incisors between 2-4 weeks of age. Their canines will come in between the 3rd and 4th week. Next, the premolars will pop up between 4-6 weeks. If the kitten doesn’t have visible molars yet, they are likely younger than four months old. Between the age of six months to one year, your cat’s adult teeth will be growing in. Their teeth will be clean and white.

To use an adult cat’s teeth to tell their age, you’ll want to pay attention to the yellowing of their teeth. Once a cat has reached two years of age their teeth will have begun to yellow. As they continue to age, their teeth will continue to become yellow. Between the ages of five to ten, most of their teeth will have appeared to yellow. After the age of ten, your cat’s teeth will look yellow all over.

Yawning catAnother thing that you should pay attention to when looking at your cat’s teeth is whether or not their teeth have any wear and tear. This generally will look like your cat’s teeth aren’t very pointy, due to years of use. A cat’s teeth will generally look more worn-down after five years of age. Between the ages of five and ten years old, the teeth will begin to look worn down. After ten years of age, the cat may have lost some teeth along with heavy wearing down, dental tartar, and gum recession. However, if a cat has been provided adequate dental care and good food, their teeth may show less signs of dental wear, making this just a good general guideline for determining age but not a perfect tool.

Checking Their Eyes

As cats get older, their eyes begin to show changes as well. Young cats under five years of age will have clear eyes with a brightness to them. After ten years of age, cats may begin to show signs of age through cloudiness in their eyes. This is due to the development of cataracts, or simply just from getting older. You’ll want to pay special attention to your cat’s irises. The iris is the part of your cat’s eye that surrounds the pupil and gives them an eye color. An older cat will show signs of aging in their irises. If the cat’s iris is thin, shows pigment patches, or shows signs of strands appearing through the iris, they are likely older than 5 years and may be closer to ten years.

The final factor to interpret age based upon your cat’s eyes is their level of tear discharge. It isn’t normal for kittens to have any runny tears around their eyes, and if you are concerned, you should consult your veterinarian. If a cat is older, they may have regular discharge and tears and this shouldn’t be something of concern unless it seems excessive. Runny eyes shouldn’t show up in a cat until they’re at least five years old.

Checking their body

Siamese CatA cat’s coat should be fluffy and full with a consistent amount all over. Older cats tend to have a more thinned out coat. Youthful cats under the age of five will have almost excessively fluffy coats. Another change that occurs in a cat’s coat is the texture of their fur. Sometimes as cats age, their fur becomes coarse and feels slightly different than it did when they were younger with a fluffy and soft coat. You may notice grey fur popping up around the muzzle in an older cat as well. The status of a cat’s body condition can also be a good indicator of their age. Young cats tend to be slender and muscular, as long as they are not overweight. Cats between the age of 3-7 may be more plump and round, while elderly cats will usually have less fat and muscle. An elderly cat will likely look thin and have noticeable shoulder bones.

Monitoring their behavior

A cat’s behavior can be indicative of their age, or another health ailment. Again, the best way to determine your cat’s age and make sure that these symptoms aren’t a health problem is by checking with your veterinarian. Some cats become more senile as they age, acting more fearful and anxious. Sometimes, health ailments can lead an elderly cat to being more aggressive and angry.

Elderly cats may also have a hard time with using their litter box. This can manifest as them making outside of their box, or tracking litter and waste around the house. This isn’t normal behavior for a cat, and can be the result of age-related ailments, loss of vision, or stress. If you’re noticing this becoming a problem, make sure to have the litter box be in a non-stressful environment and contact your veterinarian to make sure that it’s not a more serious problem.

You’ll also notice with older cats that they sleep even more than they did when they were younger. This may seem crazy, since cats seem to sleep more than there are hours in the day, but older cats will sleep even more than they did when they were young. They will have less energy for playtime and daytime shenanigans and choose a rest over a string chase. Another habit that you may notice in an older cat is that they will yowl at night more often than they did in their youth.

Feline to human age

Now, let’s talk about what all of this means in relation to human age. It is easier to understand the age of your cat if you can put it in terms of human age. Cats spend the first 2 years of their life growing exponentially, and afterwards grow about ten cat years for every two human years. The best way to understand this is with a chart:
1 month old kitten = 6 month old baby
3-month old kitten = 4 year old human
6-month old kitten = 10 year old human
8 month-old kitten = Teenaged human, 15 years old

Once your cat reaches one year of age, they will begin to slow down the growing process. A one year old cat can be equated to an 18 year old human when it comes to their body growth along with their brain development. They are still youthful but are no longer considered a kitten. From here on, your cat is a full-fledged adult and won’t be growing much.

2 year old cat = 24 cat years
4 year old cat = 35 cat years
6 year old cat = 45 cat years
8 year old cat = 55 cat years
10 year old cat = 65 cat years

After this, you can calculate another ten cat years for each two human years. Once that one-year mark hits and your cat has become an “adult”, each year represents five cat years. As you could guess, many health ailments begin popping up around that 8-10 year mark, as human bodies tend to begin showing signs of aging and health changes around the same human equivalent of time.

The average lifespan of a cat is 15 (human) years of age. From our calculations, this would mean that the average cat lives to be 90 cat-years old! These calculations are just a rough estimate enabling you to understand the phases of your cat’s life better, but this is a pretty good guide. Keeping your cat indoors can elongate their lifespan as they won’t be susceptible to other animals and outside forces and infections that won’t be in the house. You can also elongate your cat’s life through regular oral care, veterinary visits, exercise, a healthy diet, and lots of love!