If your cat is looking a bit tired then consider this. Your cat is 7 times your age! Discover the exact age of your cat and understand how you can help them to grow old gracefully.
How Old Is My Cat?
Many of us tend to work out a cat’s age by multiplying it by seven. But according to Mothernature this is a common misconception. Research suggests that cats actually age more quickly during the first two years of their life. The process slows as they get older.
This is how cat aging looks according to Mothernature.
Cat’s Behaviour According to Age.
Although the rate at which your cat ages is much greater than ours, it’s fair to say that changes in behaviour can be attributed to the different stages of life. As you can see from the table above, in her first year your cat will go through infancy, childhood and adolescence. This means that her needs, behaviour and even appetite may change quickly. The best way to handle this is to be mindful of her age, be ready to adapt, and approach this change with a pinch of empathy. After all, she’s going through a lotl! You may want to check out our feeding guide for information about what foods cats can eat.
Your Cat in their First Year:
Kittens need coaching. You’ll need to show them the ropes when it comes to using a litter tray, venturing outside, using a catflap, and finding their beds. See our blog for more details about bringing your kitten home and kitten care.
Cat Adolescence (Catolescence)
At around 4 to 6 months, it’s likely that your cat will be feeling the effects of her hormonal changes. This means that your cat could come into season or have her first heat cycle. Hormones can bring their own set of problems, as they do for humans, and can affect your cat’s behaviour and overall mood. She may become lethargic, grumpy or generally less like a kitten. It’s at this stage that you may wish to consider getting your cat spayed. Remember that cat spaying can prevent illnesses and pregnancies, saving you money in the long run.
We have a great guide to Spaying and Kitty Care, so check it out to find out more about the benefits of this procedure.
By the end of your cat’s first year, she’ll be full of that teenage confidence. However, with self-assurance come potential risks. You may find that she comes home at all hours after a night on the town, having been in a few scraps and brought home some unwanted guests (of the half- dead bird or mouse variety).
These are formative years during which your cat will try to establish herself as the top cat. You’ll need to be ready to put her in her place occasionally and make sure she knows who’s boss. Other cats will help her find her place within the cat pecking order.
Your Cat at 20 (2-3 years)
By the time your cat is two, she will have already reached her twenties. By now she is a little bit wiser, stronger, and on the way to some level of maturity. Although she’s no longer a kitten, don’t forget to play with her. She’s still young, eager to play, and will be thankful of the mental stimulation and exercise. This will also prevent any unwanted, destructive behaviour like clawing and hissing, which can be a result of boredom. It is tricky to train cats, but there are ways of discouraging bad behaviour like clawing. You can use a water spray to give her a quick squirt or bang a pan loudly. Both techniques are great for giving cats a little fright to stop them in their tracks. In time she will begin to associate your tricks with her behaviour and learn not to do it.
If your cat has been spayed, you may find that she is a lot calmer in her twenties. This is the perfect opportunity to really bond with your feline friend, through grooming and cherishment.
Your Cat at 30 (4-5 years)
This is the time when you may see a little less of your cat. Although she will always know where to come back to, she may become a little more independent and adventurous, going out all evening and even staying away for several days at a time. If this is the case, don’t worry. Cats are fiercely independent animals and full of audacity. If she’s away for several days, chances are she will have made it into someone else’s house and heart and is enjoying some attention from a new found friend. If your cat is doing this, don’t worry! It’s likely she will come back after her little adventure. Consider it a gap year or a midlife crisis.
Your Cat at 40 (6-8)
You might find that by the time your cat reaches her 40s she will be more chilled, affectionate, and less likely to stray. Cherish these years. Cuddle her, make a fuss of her, and enjoy your mature and contented kitty.
When cats reach seven, they are officially classed as seniors, so you should consider feeding her food that has been specifically developed for mature cats. Cats at this age love a good nap. Make sure they have somewhere to snuggle down during the day and night, away from drafts.
As your cat becomes less nimble, it’s worth remembering that she may still like to sit in spots that are high up. If this is the case, make the ascent more manageable for her by including a step or a chair near to her favourite napping spot. Since cats become seniors earlier on in life, make sure that you accommodate their age. Make things easier for them by ensuring things are more accessible. One way to do this is to put your cat’s litter tray and water near to where she sleeps. This will ease her joints and encourage her to take regular drink and wee breaks.
Needless to say, regular check-ups are a must as your kitty gets older. Cats may develop conditions that can be easily taken care of, and early detection will reduce any discomfort. It’s worth discussing any sudden changes in behaviour, mobility, bowel movements, or eating habits.
How old is my adopted cat?
If you’ve adopted an older cat and you’re not sure how old they are, check the following:
- Teeth: Do they have adult teeth, teeth missing, signs of decay or a buildup of plaque? All of these things suggest an older cat that may have reached her senior years.
- Fur: Kitten fur is typically shorter, softer, and shinier. As cats age, their fur can become duller and show signs of greying
- Mobility: Is your cat able to climb and jump? Can she spring around when you play with her? Do her eyes twinkle with excitement and curiosity? If your answer is no, this could again be a sign that she has reached her senior years.
- Appetite: Generally, cats that are growing will need the extra food. Younger cats will also be more active, burning more energy, so her appetite should be good. If your cat isn’t eating the recommended daily intake of food, it could be a sign of age or something more serious. Ensure that she is checked over by a vet.
- General health: Being healthy is generally a privilege of the young. As cats age, they can develop arthritis, bladder infections, cataracts, dental diseases, and heart conditions. Familiarise yourself with these conditions so that you’re aware of the signs.
The best thing to do is have your cat checked over by a vet. They will be able to provide an estimate of your cat’s age, based on their own knowledge and health checks.
Cat o’ 9 lives
To understand how your cat is going to behave throughout its lifetime, it’s a good idea to remember the ancient proverb that claims ‘a cat has nine lives’. Between countries, both the saying and meaning differ slightly, but the English proverb specifies that ‘A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays’. It’s a great reference to use on your own cat because it seems pretty accurate.
It’s a common misconception that a cat’s age is 7 times the number of years she’s been alive. If you really want to know the answer to common question ‘how old is my cat?’, then you really need to refer to our infographic above. Cats age quickest in their first year, going from infancy to adulthood in just under two years. She has a lot to learn and experience during these formative years, so make sure you understand what her requirements are and how to keep her healthy by getting her spayed.
As your cat matures, you’ll get to enjoy her playful and more independent phases. But, remember that your cat will spend at least 40% of its life as a senior in retirement, so it’s a good idea to know how to care for your kitty during her senior years.