The old “seven year” rule is simple but not quite accurate because cats age more rapidly during the first two years of life. In a cat’s very first year, he or she reaches the human age equivalent of 15. By a cat’s second year, he or she is the equivalent of age 24.
If we think like a cat, here’s how a cat’s age compares to a human’s age. Of course, there are some differences in age conversion depending on breed, weight, and other factors, but this chart gives you a general idea.
How to Figure Out Your Cat’s Age
In some cases you need to apply other cues to determine its age. The qualities listed below are basic principles. However, each cat will exhibit them differently based on their health, prior treatment, and environment. Consult a veterinarian for the best guidance.
- A cat’s teeth: The teeth of cats tend to become increasingly discolored as they age. White teeth indicate a cat that is likely under a year old. The age of the cat may be between one and two years old if there is some yellowing. Ages 3 to 5 may be approximated by tartar accumulation on all of the teeth, but keep in mind that some cats are more prone to tartar accumulation than others, particular foods may encourage tartar, and the absence of tartar may just be a sign of prior dental care. Although health problems and other factors (such as prior dental procedures) may also contribute to tooth loss, missing teeth may indicate that the cat is elderly.
- A cat’s coat: Typically, a cat’s fur gets thicker and coarser as it ages. (Remember that various breeds and hybrids may have varying coat densities and may naturally have fine or thick fur at any age.) Patches of gray or white may appear on senior cats.
- A cat’s muscle tone: Older cats tend to be bonier and have more skin than younger cats, and as they get older, their shoulder bones may protrude more.
- A cat’s eyes: Young cats have exceptionally clear, bright eyes that, depending on their health and breed, are typically discharge-free. The cat’s irises may look ragged as it ages. Although a cat with foggy eyes may be elderly, cloudiness can also be caused by medical disorders, some of which call for rapid attention. Consult a vet right away if your cat’s eyes are clouded or watery or if she is frequently squinting. If left untreated, several eye problems can quickly deteriorate and become more painful.