How Old Is My Cat? Here’s How To Determine A Cat’s Age
If your new cat was adopted or rescued, its age might be a mystery to you and you might wonder, “How old is my cat?” Veterinarians can assist you in figuring out a cat's age and devise a care plan that will keep it healthy and happy for as long as possible.
While a thorough examination of the cat's complete body can help vets get a rough idea of the cat's age, they tend to focus on a few specific body areas when figuring out the cat's exact age. Here are a few methods veterinarians use to establish a cat's age.
Teeth are a great way to gauge a kitten's age because they appear between two and four weeks after birth. The kitten's permanent teeth form above its baby teeth. Adult teeth will begin to replace the baby teeth when the kitten reaches 3 - 4 months. By the time a cat is six months old, all of its permanent teeth should be visible, making measuring its age based on teeth growth pointless.
A cat's teeth can show signs of aging if they have a lot of discoloration or tartar on them.
However, if the cat's caretaker is diligent in providing a dental care regimen, tartar buildup might not be an issue, making this method a useless indicator of the cat's age. In other words, teeth can be used as an excellent way to estimate a cat's age, but this method is not entirely reliable.
A male cat reaches sexual maturity as early as six months after birth. Territorial spraying of urine and evident testicles are usually pretty good indicators a male cat reached puberty.
The first heat (estrus cycle) of a female cat usually occurs between the first 5 to 9 months after birth. However, various factors, like daylight exposure or weight, can affect a female's cat first cycle. Estrus is clearly visible and audible, and if you're an experienced owner of female cats, you know exactly what we're talking about. In general, a female cat's reproductive years are between 18 months and 8 years old. However, she can become pregnant at any time throughout that period.
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A growing number of veterinarians are doing early spays and neuterings. Early pregnancies are more difficult for both the mother and the kittens. This preventative measure is easier for cats under two, and the cat's recovery is faster. However, that complicates the process of identifying a cat's age.
As the cat ages, its coat will become thicker and coarser, making it appear older than it really is. In addition, it may change color, becoming either lighter or darker. Cats, like humans, may grow patches of gray or individual white or gray hairs as they get older. However, even though the coat doesn't uncover the exact age, a veterinarian might use the fur to get an estimation.
In addition, a cat's grooming skills might assist in determining its age. Cats are notoriously meticulous about their personal hygiene. Still, as they age, they become more prone to dental or arthritic problems. If the cat is in pain from bending or grooming, they may start skipping their usual grooming routines and become less worried about keeping themselves in tip-top shape.
Healthy kittens and cats typically have bright, clear eyes that show no signs of discoloration, cloudiness, or discharge. Older cats' eyes may become clouded and/or teary, with a discharge oozing from them. Cats typically don't experience this until they're at least ten years old.
Because younger cats are more active, their muscles will be stronger. Saggier and more bony on the rump and shoulders are common characteristics of older cats.
According to some vets, owners, and breeders, outdoor cats age about twice as fast as indoor cats. A 14-year-old indoor cat is estimated to be 72 in human years, whereas a 14-year-old outdoor cat is estimated to be 120 human years old. When cats reach their third birthday, this aging rate begins to take effect.
Your adopted cat's exact birthday might remain a mystery forever, but having a general idea of your cat's age is important. Instead of your cat's birthday, you can celebrate the day you adopted them, but that's less important.
RELATED: Indoor Vs. Outdoor Cats: Which is Better?
As cats age, they become prone to some health issues, their dietary needs change, and the care you provide them with should be slightly different. For example, if your cat's older than 7, you might want to choose cat foods that include nutrients for joint health, like glucosamine. Senior cats need to be monitored for arthritis, vision problems, and calorie intake. These things are a lot easier to monitor once you know, at least approximately, how old your cat is.
World Cat Finder Team