If your new kitty was adopted or rescued, your cat’s age might surprise you. You may have heard that one year in a cat’s life is equivalent to seven years in the life of a human, but this is not precisely correct. By looking at it, you can tell if your new kitty is a kitten or an adult, but that still leaves much room for error.
The easiest way to assess a cat’s age is to consult a reputable veterinarian who can estimate its age by checking its teeth, eyes, fur, and overall maturity. However, remember that your vet cannot provide an exact age, only an informed judgment of your cat’s age.
Here are eight ways to tell your cat’s age:
1. Check Your Cat’s Developmental Signs
Early developmental markers are the best way to determine the age of a young kitten. One day old kittens have their ears folded and eyes closed. Typically, they will be unable to stand. After three days, their ears will begin to develop. By the time they’re six days old, their eyes will start to open somewhat. Their ears will open, but they will be unable to hear anything. They will also begin to crawl. Eyes will be fully open, but pupils will not dilate between 10 and 15 days of age.
Kittens will begin walking at two weeks of age, but they will be shaky and uncoordinated. They will respond to sound since their ear canals open at three weeks. They will be able to use the litterbox, and their baby teeth will begin to appear. Playing, pouncing, roughhousing, and self-grooming start from 4 to 5 weeks of age.
Eventually, their eyes will change from blue to their permanent color at six weeks of age. Kittens should weigh 2 pounds at this age and be old enough to be spayed or neutered. They will resemble little replicas of full-grown cats. When the cat is young, you can tell more about its age.
2. Check Your Cat’s Teeth
The first baby teeth of a cat appear between 2 and 4 weeks of age, making teeth a great indicator of age for kittens. Their permanent teeth are forming above the baby teeth, and the permanent teeth will begin to displace the baby teeth, also known as deciduous teeth, by the time the kitten is 3 to 4 months old.
By six months, all adult teeth are in place, and growth is no longer helpful in identifying a cat’s age. The amount of discoloration, or tartar, on a cat’s teeth is also a sign of age in older cats. However, with pet teeth cleaning solutions readily available, tartar may not be a reliable predictor, depending on the cat’s caregiver’s thoroughness in providing a dental care program.
Your veterinarian will also search for signs of tooth wear; the older the cat, the more its teeth tend to wear down. This, however, is merely a rough guideline for assessing feline age. As a result, teeth are an excellent predictor of a cat’s or kitten’s estimated age, though there is an understandable margin for error.
3. Check Your Cat’s Fur
A kitten’s fur is thick and short when it is born. Its fur becomes softer and finer as it ages. When a cat achieves senior status, its coat thickens and coarsens again, and it may turn grey in some areas.
Your cat is young if they have coats that are thin and velvety texture. It may also change shade, becoming darker or lighter, once they grow older. When a cat reaches senior status, it may develop patches of white or gray individual hairs, similar to how humans age. While not a guarantee of age, a cat’s coat can assist a vet in calculating its age.
Furthermore, how well a cat brushes can reveal its age. Cats are very clean creatures, but an older cat may tend to neglect its coat when it acquires weight, when dental problems cause the cat’s mouth to suffer, or when arthritis makes the typical twists and turns demonstrated during feline self-grooming painful.
4. Check your Cat’s Muscle Tone
Because they are more active, younger cats will have higher muscle tone. Older cats may have saggier skin and bonier rump and shoulder blades. It is thought that an outdoor cat ages nearly twice as fast as an inside cat. An indoor-only cat would be 72 human years old at 14 cat years old, while an outdoor cat would be 120 years old. This rate of aging begins around the age of three.
A cat ages rapidly throughout the first two years, indoors or outdoors. A cat is around 15 human years old when it is nearly one year old. When the cat reaches the age of two, it will be approximately 24 human years old.
An indoor cat will age four human years for every cat year, while an outdoor cat will age 8 for every cat year. This is another reason to keep your cat indoors or set up a screen on your porch or balcony! Not only will you protect them from all the dangers of the outside, but they will probably live a lot longer and be easier to care for in the long term.
5. Check Your Cat’s Sexual Maturity
Although a cat rescued from an animal rescue or shelter is likely to have been spayed or neutered before you brought it home, the sexual maturity of an intact cat might provide indications about its age.
Male cats can reach sexual maturity as early as six months of age. Puberty is characterized by the territorial spraying of urine and larger testicles. You may view them by looking at the cat’s back end, where the testicles are below the anus.
Female cats usually have their first heat (or estrus cycle) between the ages of 5 and 9 months, while the amount of daylight and the cat’s weight also affects when they have their first estrus cycle. A female cat will clearly and vocally indicate that it is in estrus. Female cats are most fertile between 18 months and eight years, while they can become pregnant much sooner or later depending on fertility, overall health, and access to intact male cats.
Many veterinarians, however, now advocate early spaying and neutering. It not only helps avoid early pregnancies, which are difficult for both mothers and kittens but the procedure is reported to be easier on the cats when they are younger. This can make determining the age of a cat more difficult.
6. Check Your Cat’s Eyes
Healthy kittens and cats have prominent and bright eyes with minimal tearing or discharge in their early adult years. On the other hand, cats in their later years may acquire hazy eyes with weeping and discharge.
This usually does not happen until the cat is at least ten years old. Cats over the age of ten frequently exhibit changes in the iris, or colored component, of their eye.
The iris may have a wavy edge or cease to expand and close as much as it did when the cat was younger.
7. Check How Active Your Cat Is
The amount of activity a cat exhibits is a clear indicator of its age. Kittens and young cats are far more active and playful than their cat elders. Whether it’s arthritis or old age, elder cats tend to laze around more and don’t play with toys as much.
Older cats prefer to sleep, while kittens want to play. While some senior cats are fit and energetic, the more mature the cat, the more inactive it will be.
Senior cats and kittens require almost the same amount of sleep every day – 20 hours. Adult cats, on the other hand, require 12-15 hours of sleep per day. Again, most of this is cat-dependent, but if you time how much your cat sleeps for a few days, you should be able to tell whether they are an adult or a senior cat.
8. Check With Your Cat’s Veterinarian and Breeder
To get the most accurate picture of your cat’s age and health, ask your cat’s breeder and consult a reputable veterinarian. Breeders usually keep records of their cats and would be able to give you an exact date of birth.
On the other hand, veterinarians will examine your cat from head to tail. The vet can calculate your cat’s age by carefully inspecting its physique, most of which are discussed in this article.
Your vet can accurately estimate your cat’s age in the absence of records or paperwork from the breeder. However, they will only be able to give you an approximate date. Instead, they will likely give you an educated guess. A rough estimation based on a professional opinion will be enough for you to make an informed decision, especially when caring for your cat.
Observing a cat’s behavior is the best approach to determining its age. Older and younger cats require a lot more sleep. Cats in their prime need the least amount of sleep. Young cats are full of energy and like playing. Older cats may go to their sleeping area. Observing the activity will give you a decent idea of the cat’s age.