How old is my cat?
If you didn’t adopt your cat as a kitten, it may be difficult to know exactly how old they are. While it’s impossible to know their age with certainty, here are four ways to help determine your cat’s age:
Your veterinarian may be able to make a better guess at the age of your kitty by looking in their mouth. Cats have their adult teeth by the time they are 6 months of age. After this age, dental disease (gingivitis and tartar accumulation) and tooth wear provide clues to the age of your kitty. However, some very young kitties can have advanced dental disease, while some senior cats have perfect dental health. Dental x-rays may also give your veterinarian an idea of your kitty’s age. As kitty’s age, their pulp cavity (the hollow part of the tooth) becomes smaller.
Geriatric cats have changes in their corneas that can give your veterinarian information that may give a better guess of age.
Most cats have some loss of kidney function as they become seniors. This can be measured by blood work including blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine (CREA).
As cats progress past the age of 12 years, many start to experience the loss of muscle mass. There are many diseases that cause this loss such as thyroid disease, intestinal disease, diabetes, arthritis and kidney disease.
How Old Is My Cat in Cat Years?
The age chart below is a rough translation of cat years to human years based off of average life expectancy.
If you are unsure of your kitty’s actual age, having veterinary examinations every 6 months becomes critical in catching disease. Cats age more than 5 times the rate of humans. As a result, disease can come on over a few months. In between vet visits here are three things you can measure at home:
- Weight. You can get a baby scale to weigh your kitty once monthly. Gradual weight loss can be difficult to notice when you see your kitty everyday. Weight loss can alert you or your veterinarian that more serious disease may be present.
- Oral exam. If your kitty will let you, peeking in his mouth a couple times a month can alert you to painful dental disease. Unfortunately, kitties with horribly painful mouths never stop eating or alert you that anything is wrong.
- Litterbox. Changes in the size of pee clumps or consistency of their poop can be indicators that it is time for a visit to the vet. Cats that produce large amount of urine may be suffering from diabetes or kidney disease. Chronically loose stools may be a sign of treatable intestinal disease.
While you may never know the exact age of your adult cat, teaming with your veterinarian along with thoughtful observation at home can prove incredibly helpful in having a ballpark idea of your kitty's age. Remember that age is not a disease, and using this information can help you better support your cat's overall health and wellbeing.
How did you determine your cat's age? I'd love to hear in the comments below!