There are many speculations and theories about how fast cats age, and most of us can agree on the fact that time does seem to affect our furry little friends differently.
Even veterinarians say and confirm that these animals age faster than they would in “human years”.
But, if you don’t know the exact age of your cat, is there any way to figure our how old your cat is?
It can be difficult to pin down a precise number on this, but there are some guesstimates and valid ways of estimating a pretty accurate number or age.
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How Cats Age, A Speedy Difference
It is believed that the first two years in the life of a cat are similar, and equal to the first 25 years that a human would live out.
Woah…that is pretty crazy when you think about it.
They mature and grow differently than we do, not any better or worse but are simply different to us in many interesting ways.
Generally, a cat will reach the approximate “human age” of 15 during their first year of life, then the “human age” of 24 when they are 2 years old.
Then, each year after that, they will age four years for every calendar year.
Tracie Hotchner is the well known author of the fantastic book: The Cat Bible, which has come up with a great way of explaining how these animals age, especially in comparison to us humans.
You should give this a one or two year difference but this following guide is accepted throughout the entire cat world in general, so it is trustworthy, but most of all very interesting to read.
Cat Years VS Human Years
- 1 month old kitten = 6 month old human baby
- 3 month old kitten = 4 year old human toddler
- 6 month old kitten = 10 years old human
- 8 month old kitten = 15 years old teenager
- 1 year old cat = Similar to an 18 year old human
And then there are the cat and human years…
- 24 cat years = 2 human years
- 35 cat years = 4 human years
- 42 cat years = 6 human years
- 50 cat years = 8 human years
- 60 cat years = 10 human years
- 70 cat years = 12 human years
- 80 cat years = 14 human years
- 84 cat years = 16 human years
This basically means, that if you have a 2 year old human toddler, and a cat that was born at the same time as the child, the same cat would be around 24 years old in human years.
The Cat’s Lifespan
Now, let’s take a short look at how our feline’s life is split into different stages depending on the age, and how this translates into human years.
It’s all right, you have time for this, with your long human lifespan…
Birth – 6 Months
Shortly after birth, the kitten begins to cellularly and physically open up and begins to use it’s eyes and ears for the very first time.
Nature has given kittens the spectacular ability to very quickly get a hang of the environment surrounding them and they quickly pick up on all the different sights, smells and sounds all around.
When they leave their mother after around two to three months, they start to develop independency and socialization skills that every cat needs in the future.
They then continue to grow and flourish, developing rapidly on their own.
After a few weeks and months, they can get themselves into quite a bit of trouble when they discover how fun it is to explore this whole new world presented to them.
Between 4 to 6 months of age, their baby teeth disappear and get replaced by their stronger permanent teeth.
They can then enjoy chewing on all sorts of wacky things with their new adult teeth and find out what life is all about, really.
A Kitten that is six months old, is comparable to a 10 year old human child.
Six Months – Three Years Old
As many cat owners understand fully, kittens that are around the age mark of 6 months are very active and full of energy.
They are pushing the boundaries that will take them into adulthood.
By the time they reach year one, they will have grown considerably in size and look very different.
During this time period, they are fully developed both physically and in their attitude as well.
More independent traits and a more defined personality, among with sexual maturity will develop at this stage in life.
The cat will still look very young, and it is actually really difficult to tell the right age of an adult cat without a thorough examination of their body and habits.
Three Years – Six Years Old
Even though the cats age in human terms symbolizes an adult cat, your cat is still not old at all.
From the years of three to six, they will become less active than they were when they were energetic kittens.
During these years, three to six the young kitten loves to hunt, lounge around in the warm sun, and has the occasional bursts of bounding and running energy.
Also, if it is an intact male, their urine odor is going to be stronger.
Seven Years – Ten Years Old
As the maturing cat gradually ages, they will show behavioral changes as well naturally.
In this specific age category, your favorite kitty becomes much less active which is normal and nothing to worry about.
This is a time when they feel safe and comfortable with their daily routines and they might start to gain some aging weight.
Eleven Years – Fourteen Years Old
This would be the age when they can apply for their AARP membership card.
Welcome to senior-hood, where the cat’s body and nutritional needs start to change. Joints will begin to ache and something like chasing a mouse around will not seem worth even trying.
Fifteen Years – Twenty and More…
Based on the list above, the cat can now be considered to be in their late 70’s or early 80’s.
They will either want to spend most of their time cuddling gently or enjoying a peaceful solitary sleep.
Cognitive abilities, such as hearing and vision will have declined and become worse.
How Long Do Cats Live?
The oldest known cat, as noted by The Guinness Book of World Records, was a 38 year old cat from Texas.
Due to better nutrition and technology, our beloved pets are living longer and healthier lives.
Still, inside cats do live considerably longer than our door ones.
Past records have shown that their lives once were no more than 13 or 14 years of age. However, during these past years there have been felines that have lived from 23 to 36 years of age.
Also read: How long do cats live?
Do Cat Breeds Matter, In Aging?
How long cats normally live is based on a few different factors.
These are things such as their eating habits, general health, and daily living habits that factor into a cats aging difference.
Other factors include the environment, being sprayed or neutered, and how well they are taken care of.
As mentioned above, there is also a life span difference between feral cats and indoor ones.
The life expectancy in different cat breeds is somewhat different as well.
There are many cat organizations and vets alike that agree on this, and it is known that the different cat breeds do have different aging timelines.
Persians, Burmese, and Siamese cats are known to have very long life spans and they live a long life if they are well taken care of.
But, animal experts determine how long a cat lives based on it’s “heterosis”.
Heterosis is based on whether the cat is a pure breed or a mixed breed, but that does affect how long the animal is going to live.
Purebred cats are sadly more prone to genetic disorders.
Mixed breed cats on the other hand, have a more diverse genetic background which makes them stronger.
Also, mixed cat breeds inherit less health issues as a whole.
It is kind of similar to how many royals liked to marry within their family in the past to keep their bloodline “noble”, but eventually got a whole lot of health issues from doing it.
Any cats life-span is dependent on their diet, lifestyle, DNA, and the love and care you provide.
To give you a better understanding on how long cats live, depending on their breed, here is a nice sample list of their anticipated average age:
- Angora: 12 to 18 years
- American Bobtail: 13 to 15 years
- Bengal: 12 to 16 years
- Burmese: 16 to 18 years
- Domestic: 12 to 14 years
- Ceylon: 15 years
- Exotic Shorthair: 12 to 14 years
- Himalayan: 15+ years
- Persian cat: 15+ years
- Manx: 8 to 14 years
- Ragdoll: 15+ years
- Russian Blue: 15 to 20 years
- Sphynx: 15 years
- Siamese cats: 12 to 20 years
Is My Cat Aging?
When cats reach their senior age, that is when negative changes in their body are going to start taking place.
Cats will age differently just like humans do.
They age on a cellular level before you will see it visibly though. Their body functions will slow down, as does their heart and immune system.
These are common aging signs that include the following:
- Joint pain like osteoarthritis can set in
- Sight, smell, hearing and appetite will lessen
- Dental issues will form
- Appearance changes take place
- Balance and flexibility lessens causing them to stumble sometimes
How To Guess a Cat’s Age
If you have had your kitty since the very moment it was born, you should already know your little friends age.
However, if you became attached to a feral cat or if you adapted one, quite often a guess to it’s real age can be determined by certain body indications and such.
Without knowing the animals history, a guess is just an age game, but here are some more common aging signs in cats:
Common teeth signs can give you a good idea of the real age.
Permanent white teeth appear around the four month mark, but small amounts of tartar or yellowing will appear between one or two years of age.
When yellowing has spread to all the teeth, your cat is between three to five years old.
If there are any missing teeth it is a sign of senior-hood and it must be between 10 to 15 years of age.
When a cat is past the age of 10 or 12 years, their eyes will show some noticeable cloudiness and there can also be some eye discharge that you might see.
The eyes of a young cat or a kitten are very clear and look more “fresh”.
If your cat is not a hairless breed, then their fur is going to change with age.
Young kittens and cats have very smooth and full thick coats of hair. An older cat has a coat that is less smooth to look and may have some grey in it.
Granted that seasonal changes can affect the fur a bit, but overall as they age, the texture of their fur will feel more coarse.
Bones and Muscles
If your cat has slowed down and isn’t moving around as much then this is a telltale sign of age.
Their muscle mass in an advanced age has lessened. Older cats can be thinner and showing signs of extra hanging skin, or shoulder blades that are more prominent.
Young cats have lean and muscular bones while middle-aged cats are filled out and have a more rounded definition.
Cat whiskers are the barometer of how a cat moves around and experiences the world around itself, an indicator of how they are feeling, and so much more.
In addition to their growth on the side of the cat’s nose, a wispy whisker-style hair(s) also grow above the eyes, on the chin, and on the backs of their lower front legs.
As the animal ages, these whiskers and hairs will turn grey and black.
It is interesting to watch a cat groom themselves.
Their tongue is made of keratin with small barbs facing backwards and their tongue feels rough to the touch.
As a cat licks their body, these barbs remove any loose hair and other foreign bodies and dirt.
A cat’s paw serves as a washcloth that is used to scrub their face, which must be incredibly handy to have one around you at all times like this.
Cats are very flexible animals which enables them to reach around and groom themselves extensively.
Young and middle-aged cats both love to groom themselves throughout the day. As they mature though, they will still love to do the grooming but will be less interested in it’s frequency. This is especially true if they suffer from any joint pain.
Ah, the favorite hobby of these animals.
As aging occurs, most older cats are going to sleep more often during the day or they will stay up all night.
Certain breeds love to howl or meow loudly at night, and the most common reasons for them doing this are either stress, illness, restlessness or some other medical condition. It depends.