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How Old is My Cat?

Cats' Normal Life Span, Cats' Age in Human Years

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The fact that cats develop and age so rapidly in a short time is both fascinating and sad to the people who love them. Kittens develop to the age of a 15 year old human child in just the first year of their lives. An adult cat in the prime of his life at 32 human years is only four years old. Shocking, isn't it?

The reality is that even relatively long-lived cats don't live as long as we'd like. On the plus side the relative age of cats can differ when factors such as heredity, diet, lifestyle, and veterinary care come into play. Although we can't do a lot about heredity, we can somewhat control the other factors.

1. How long does the average cat live?

Shannon Lived to be 19 Years Old
Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy
This is a broad question depending on your definition of the "average cat." With optimal health and good genes, a well-nourished, well-exercised indoor-only cat will probably live longer than many indoor-outdoor cats. The latter will live a lot longer than strays and ferals. There are exceptions to every rule. Shannon, pictured here, lived to 19 years, despite having free access outdoors all his life.

2. How is a cat's age determined?

Picture of cats looking out a window
Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy
Question:How, exactly, is a cat's approximate age determined? We took in a stray cat that we'd been feeding for several weeks, and we are curious how old he is. I know that something about cats' teeth is a clue, but I don't know what to look for, exactly. What are the guidelines for telling your cat's age?

Answer: Because I am not a veterinarian, I can only respond in broad, general terms. While teeth are sometimes a good indicator, they are not foolproof. For that reason, veterinarians prefer to examine the whole cat. Here are a few of the feline organs veterinarians check to determine the age of a cat. . . .read the rest of my response

3. How To Convert Cat's Age to Human Years

Billy at Two Years Old
© Franny Syufy
You will be able to understand your cat's development more easily if you have a general idea of his age in human years. This method and the accompanying age chart will point the way for you.

Keep in mind that variable factors, such as heredity, diet, environment, and physical and medical care may affect your cat's comparative age to that of a human. Although you probably don't have any control over heredity, you do have options for controlling the other factors which control your cat's aging process.

Billy, my "middle cat," pictured here, was about 24 in human years when this photo was taken.

4. Cats Age Conversion Chart

Photo of cat peeking a look outdoors
Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy
Use this chart to easily determine your cat's approximate age in human years.
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