Your fur baby will inevitably undergo some changes as they age. But if you weren’t there at birth, how can you tell how old a cat is? Knowing the age of your cat can be important for you to properly care for them. Let’s explore some tips on how to determine your cat's age.
Determining a cat’s age
With recent increases in pet adoption, many pet parents might not know the age of their new kitty. Learning about the different stages of a cat’s life can help you make a more accurate guess on your cat's age.
Stages of a cat’s life
There are a total of 4 stages of a cat's life. The stages include the following age ranges:
- Kitten: Birth - 6 months
- Adolescent cat: 7 months - 2 years
- Mature cat: 3 - 10 years
- Senior/geriatric cat: 10+ years
Lifespan of house cat vs feral cat
Did you know there is a major average lifespan difference between indoor house cats and outdoor feral cats? Feral cats typically live shorter lives than house cats, around 2-5 years. This is because they face much harsher living conditions like exposure to traffic, extreme temperatures, predators, along with a constricted diet and lack of veterinary care. While house cats can enjoy the comforts of knowing where their next meal will come from and appropriate conditions, there is sometimes concern about weight gain. Some house cats can be overweight, which can lead to health concerns in the future. This could also impact their life expectancy.
How can you tell how old a cat is?
Here are some characteristics to look for to help you estimate your cat's age.
It is easy to tell a kitten from a cat. The cute little paws and tiny noses are sure ways to recognize a kitten. As cats get older, you will notice a change in their body. The body will be a little less firm or less defined. As cats get older, they tend to move less and might be less playful, resulting in a few more pounds.
Skin and fur
Skin and fur are also indicators of age. Kittens might have soft and smooth coats whereas an older cat might have a thicker, more coarse coat. Younger cats like to spend a lot of time grooming their coat to keep it looking shiny. As a cat ages, this could change. Part of it could be a lack of interest and another part could be weight gain or even health issues. You might even notice some grey in your older cat's fur!
The tail of your cat grows with them and your cat usually stops growing around 2 years old. Keep an eye on their tail as a marker for how much more growing they have left.
How can you tell how old a cat is? Take a closer look at their teeth. Kittens usually don’t get all their teeth until around 6 months of age, and younger cats tend to have much whiter teeth. This is a helpful way to pinpoint the age of your kitten. You will likely notice increased wear and tartar build-up the older your cat gets.
Looking into the gorgeous eyes of your fur baby, you might be able to see a little bit about their age. You might notice that your young cat has bright, beautiful eyes. As they get older, their eyes can actually get cloudy. However, not every cat's eyes cloud over—they can stay just as bright as their kitten years.
As early as 5 months of age, an unspayed female kitten might start going into heat. If you notice telltale signs like territorial marking, mating calls, or wanting to escape outdoors, you’ll know your kitten is at least 5 months old. (And that it’s time to get her spayed!)
Mobility and activity levels
Remember when your sweet kitten loved to play and hop all around? As a cat gets older, this changes a bit. Your older cat might want to spend more time sleeping instead of bouncing from counter to counter. It is still important to encourage your cat to be active.
As cats get older, they could lose their mobility. A cat tower can encourage movement by providing multiple levels and climbing holes, while also being a stylish addition to your home. This tower can keep cats of all ages and activity levels interested and entertained.
Encouraging activity and exercise also helps combat cat weight gain. This might be a way to determine the age of your cat because older cats tend to carry more weight. As your cat gets older, they might choose to be less active and move a little slower. Your cat might prefer eating and lounging. Though you want to ensure they are eating the recommended amount, you might want to be mindful of their intake based on age and weight. The Feeder-Robot allows you to customize your cat's food portions via the Whisker app. This can help with controlling and monitoring your cat's food intake
Is it normal for my cat to live beyond 15 years old?
The average life expectancy for an indoor cat is 10-15 years, but some cats live to age 20 or beyond! Keep in mind, 15 years old is about 76 years old in human years. Your cat might live beyond 15 years but it will depend on their environment, breed, and overall health.
You can help your cat achieve maximum life expectancy by providing them with great nutrition, exercise, regular vet appointments, and lots of love.
How can I take care of an aging cat?
- Stay on top of vet appointments (twice yearly is recommended for senior cats)
- Make sure their food, water, and litter box is easily accessible
- Help them with grooming
- Keep areas well-lit to prevent accidents
- Set a routine for your cat
Love your cat at any age
So, how can you tell how old a cat is? As your cat ages, you will notice changes in their physical appearance and behavior. It is important to tend to those changes and make adjustments to ensure your cat ages comfortably. It might start off as something simple as making sure they’re getting adequate exercise or providing easier access to their litter box.
As your fur baby ages, their litter habits might change. The Litter-Robot 3 Connect helps cut down on cleaning and maintenance, as it is self-cleaning and automatic. It’s large enough to accommodate cats of all ages and keeps the bed of litter clean for every visit.
No, your cat's whiskers do not change as they age.
You might notice larger mammary glands, a larger abdomen, and an increased appetite.
Cover photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash