KITTENS

How to Calculate Cat Years: Keep Track of Your Kitty’s Real Age

Close-up of a cat lying on the floor
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

When trying to calculate cat years, we understand that it can be a bit confusing. Cats age differently compared to humans. There is a popular theory stating that for each calendar year, a cat will age by seven human years, but that is a misconception. The answer to the question how to calculate cat years is not so straightforward because it’s affected by many factors. Felines tend to age faster during their first two years of their lives. Also, outdoor cats tend to age faster than indoor cats.

If you understand how the above factors affect your cat’s actual age in human years, you will be able to provide the right care for kitty as she gets older. Knowing how old your cat really is makes all the difference as prevention is better than cure. If you’ve learned that your cat is at a tender age, you’ll be able to schedule routine vet visits to get her checked out. If you catch any underlying health issues early, chances are your cat will be able to live a longer, happier life.

Close-up of a black cat lying on her back looking at the camera

In this article, we will discuss the different stages of a cat’s life, how fast your cat ages during each life stage, how to estimate your cat’s age based on physical indications if you don’t keep track of her birthdays, and how to care for your cat as she ages so you’ll be able to spend more years in her company. Without further ado, check out our guide on how to figure out your cat’s actual age by yourself.

Your Cat’s Age in Human Years

Experts have invented accurate formulas on how to calculate cat years, but we understand how complicated and confusing these can be for new cat owners, which is why we have done all the legwork and come up with a simple guide for you. Use the chart below to figure out how old is your cat is in human years.

Human YearsCat Age
0 Months0 Months
1 Year15 Years
2 Years24 Years
3 Years28 Years
4 Years32 Years
5 Years36 Years
6 Years40 Years
7 Year44 Years
8 Years48 Years
9 Years52 Years
10 Years56 Years
11 Years60 Years
12 Years64 Years
13 Years68 Years
14 Years72 Years
15 Years76 Years
16 Years80 Years

The Physical Indicators of Cat Years

Now, the chart above will make figuring out your cat’s age really simple if you’ve kept track of her birthdays. But what if you didn’t get your cat from a breeder or a shelter? If your cat was formerly feral, you wouldn’t receive a concise report upon adoption that tells all you need to know about how old your cat is. But don’t worry; here are some physical indicators which will help you determine your cat’s age.

Teeth

The simplest way to tell a cat’s age is by taking a look at their teeth. The first set of teeth will appear between the age of two and four weeks. When the kitten is about four months old, you will see their more permanent set appears.

Image of cat with her mouth open

If you open the cat’s mouth and you see permanent and white teeth, your cat is probably around one year old. If you notice some yellow stains, your cat is around one to two years old. If you see the build-up of tartar on all of the cat’s teeth, the cat is probably more than three years old. To spot a senior cat, all you have to do is see if there are any missing teeth.

If the previous owner tended to neglect brushing the cat’s teeth, you would notice more staining around the cat’s teeth, so they could actually be younger than you think.

Muscle Tone

Due to a higher activity level, younger cats are more likely to have prominent muscle definition. If you spot protruding shoulder blades, some extra skin, or a bonier body, you have an older cat on your hands.

The Coat

To differentiate between a younger cat and an older cat, you can also take a look at their coat.

Black and orange cat sitting

A soft and fine coat generally indicates that the cat is young. Thicker, coarser fur is indicative of an older cat. Any patches of white or displays of gray in an otherwise solid-colored coat are indicative of a senior cat.

The Eyes

Younger cats commonly have a pair of bright, clear eyes. Other than that, their eyes tend to be free of any tearing or discharge. Although, this rule only applies if the cat is healthy at the time of the examination.

Close-up image of a cat

If the cat’s eyes seem murky or cloudy, you can expect the cat to be around twelve years or older. You should also pay attention to the irises while inspecting the lens. This is very tricky, but it helps a lot in calculating cat years. Smooth irises indicate that the cat is young. If the irises appear somewhat jagged, you have an old cat.

The Stages of a Cat’s Life

Now that you know how old your cat exactly is, it’s time to learn what life stage they are in. Each cat goes through 6 different life stages. Knowing which life stage they are currently undergoing will help you understand how to support them as they grow up.

Kittens (0-6 Months)

Getting a new kitten is considered as one of the most rewarding experiences by most people. This life stage is always full of milestones. It is filled with things like the first time they open their eyes, the moment they learn to walk, learn how to play actively, and how to interact with your family and other pets.

Between the age of 0 to 6 months, kittens tend to be very curious about their surroundings. This is the perfect time for you to introduce them to the other pets or even the children. You should also begin getting your kittens used to the idea of routine grooming. Try to get them comfortable with tooth and coat brushing, nail trimming, as well as potty and carrier training.

Image showing a kitten sitting outside

If you’re getting a kitten from a breeder or a shelter—so they don’t grow up with their own litter—you might want to get a second one. Two kittens are always better than one—especially if you lead a busy lifestyle and you can’t always play with them. That way they can play together when you’re away and keep each other company.

Your feline friend is also more fragile in this life stage. Their immune system is not yet used to fighting off bacteria and virus attacks. Learn the natural behaviors of your kitten while paying attention to their health care. If you notice anything amiss, take them to the vet immediately.

Junior (6 Months – 2 Years)

At this age, the development of inter-cat aggression can be expected. This is the life stage where they reach sexual maturity. Therefore, ensure that you have a wide variety of cat toys which can stimulate their senses. Toys like fake mice can really help them develop their predatory instinct.

Two cats lying down on a street

Cats, especially younger ones, are very excited and always full of energy. However, do not let this distract you from taking them to a veterinarian for routine checkups. Just because your cat is always running and playing around, it does not mean that they are completely healthy. As the cat is maturing, it is very crucial for you to keep track of their medical-related matters.

During the first few cat years, you should develop a close relationship with a veterinarian that you trust. This way, they will know your cat personally. If there are any subtle changes in your cat’s health or condition, they will be able to detect them immediately.

Prime (3-6 Years)

Around the ages of 3 to 6 years old, your cat should start to have more regular medical check-ups. Just because they are in the prime of their lives, it doesn’t mean that your cat is perfectly healthy. They will definitely benefit from regular visits to the veterinarian.

Mature (7-10 Years)

At this age, your cat is more likely to gain extra weight. They will probably start developing saggy skin as well. Do not be surprised if they begin to relax more instead of playing. They are already at that age where they are physically and mentally maturing.

Black and white image of a male cat lying down

You’ll have to keep up with the vet visits even more regularly at this stage because if your cat comes from a breed that’s known for developing hereditary conditions, they will start to show the symptoms around this age.

Senior (11-14 Years)

At this stage, your cat is around 70 years old in human years. You should pay extra attention to how they eat, drink, and even sleep. Senior cats are naturally more prone to developing chronic diseases. This is the phase where you begin noticing that your cat is losing teeth. Also, at this stage, they would rather sleep or rest than play.

Geriatric (15 Years and Over)

Although not all cats manage to get to 15 years and over, some cats do manage to hit this old age. Indoor-only cats can usually make it to this life stage, but it happens less often with outdoor cats.

Geriatric cats begin to show behavioral changes. Some examples include changes in litter box usage and vocalization. They should also be evaluated more often by a veterinarian for any underlying medical-related problems.

Image showing an eldery male cat lying on the grass

Cats in different life stages require different levels of attention. With younger cats, we tend to focus more on their mental and emotional state. They need stimulants and high levels of interaction. When it comes to older cats, you need to focus more on the physical aspect.

Unlike dogs, cats are great at hiding their pain. You may miss the signs that your cat is giving off about their poor health because these signs are often subtle. However, if you begin noticing weird behavior such as hiding or sleeping more often, do not ignore it.

Image of an older egyptian mau cat

You should keep track of their eating habits as well. If a cat is exposed to a chronic disease, you will notice a distinct lack of appetite. In a household with multiple cats, it can be very hard for owners to keep track of each cat’s eating behavior, however, at the first sign of weight loss, you should take your cat to the vet so they could get checked out.

As cats grow older, they also tend to crave more attention from their owners. Keep stimulating them with physical and mental exercises. Do not stop petting, interacting, or playing with your older cat. Assist them with grooming by combing or brushing them and trimming their nails.

Wrap Up

As cats grow older, understanding their needs become more and more crucial. As cats age, it is very important for them to be taken to the veterinarian more often. Even when your cat seems healthy, it is advised for you to schedule regular wellness check-ups.

This is why it is very important for you to know exactly how old is your cat. Simply guessing your cat’s age in human years will not work because the formula is precise and different. By learning about your cat’s real age, you will be able to better cater to their specific needs. For example, as your cat is maturing, they will need extra warmth and comfort. Therefore, make sure you prepare softer sleeping pillows for them.

Image showing a senior male cat lying down

As your cat grows older, the bond that you share should also grow stronger. Provide for your cat the way they need and deserve based on the life stage they are in, and you’ll be able to spend many more fulfilling years in your cat’s joyful companionship.

How old is your cat in cat years? How old is she in human years? If you’ve observed your cat carefully as she develops through all six of the life stages we’ve mentioned above, and you’ve noticed something that we failed to mention, please share your knowledge and experience with us in the comments section below.

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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