You may have heard that one cat year equals seven human years. This rule is simple, but not accurate because cats age more rapidly during the first two years of their life. A two-year-old cat is almost twenty-five in human years! The formula to calculate your cat’s age in human years is really simple and can be helpful to understanding what your cat needs at every age.
How to calculate your cat's age in human years
According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), the first year of a cat’s life is equal to approximately 15 human years. The second year of a cat’s life is equal to an additional nine years. After the second year of a cat’s life, each additional year is equal to about four human years. As such, a two-year-old cat is almost twenty-five in human years, and a three-year-old cat is twenty-nine in human years.
You may be wondering why the need to know a cat’s life stages and the corresponding human age. These stages allow us to appreciate how old the cat is inside. This is often not obvious from the outside, as cats seldom go grey, and they are very good at hiding signs of physical pain or illnesses. It is a cat's instinct to hide or mask its pain.
When is a cat no longer a kitten?
Kittens’ growth happens mostly in the first six months. They will put on a lot of weight, gain muscle mass, and their bones will lengthen at a rapid rate. Kittens can eat as much as they want at this stage because they need the nutrients to build proper bone and muscle structure. For healthy growth, choose a nutrient-dense kitten food like ORIJEN Grain Free Cat & Kitten Dry Cat Food. This cat food is made of 85% whole-prey fresh or raw meat, organs, edible bone and cartilage. It is exactly what your kitten will need to support his exponential growth.
Their growth rate will gradually slow down after the initial 6 months, and most cats will be fully grown after a year. Your kitten should stop gaining weight when she’s done growing. If you have been weighing your kitten regularly, you’ll notice his weight reaches a plateau at around the 12th month. The weight plateau indicates that he has fully grown.
Once he is fully grown, your cat is no longer a kitten and is now considered a young adult. In human years, your cat is now a fifteen-year-old teenager. Just like a human teenager, kitty may be physically matured but his mental maturity is still developing. Mental maturity will continue throughout his second year. By the end of the second year (twenty-five human years old), kitty will reach full mental maturity.
When is a cat considered a senior?
Cats are considered senior when they are at about 11 years. This is the equivalent to about 60 human years. Like people, senior cats are often faced with a wide variety of age-related health issues. Common health issues amongst senior cats are obesity and arthritis.
Pay close attention to your cat’s nutrition when it comes to senior cat care and weight management. Choose a lower calorie, protein-dense cat food like Schesir Senior Chicken Fillets with Aloe in Jelly Wet Cat Food. Compared to dry kibble, wet food is also easier for many senior cats to manage, and the increased moisture content is important for digestion and kidney health as well.
For arthritic management, a joint supplement or medication may be necessary. Discuss with your veterinarian for the best arthritic treatment for your senior cat. The NaturVet ArthriSoothe GOLD (Level 3) Advanced Care Soft Chew Cat & Dog Supplement is one of the most complete arthritis supplement for cats and dogs. It contains Glucosamine, MSM, Chondroitin and Hyaluronic Acid, all the necessary ingredients to maintain joint flexibility and alleviate joint aches.
How to figure out your cat's age if he is an adopted stray
If you’ve adopted a stray, you may need to use other clues to estimate the age of your new feline friend. These physical characteristics serves only as an estimate and may vary between cats depending on their previous care and circumstances. For best advice, consult a veterinarian.
In general, the older the cat, the more stained the teeth. Pearly white teeth means that the cat is probably still a kitten, younger than 1 year. This is also the best time to start familiarising your new kitten to an oral care routine. The first step in taking care of your kitten's oral health is daily brushing with a cat toothbrush. If brushing is a challenge with your new kitten, there are other non-brushing dental care alternatives like this Tropiclean Fresh Breath - No Brushing Clean Teeth Gel for Cats.
If there is slight yellowing, the cat might be between 1 and 2 years. If you notice brownish stain and tarter build-up on most teeth, the stray is probably between the ages of 3 to 5. Keep in mind that the cat’s diet can influence the amount of tartar build-up, and clean teeth and gums may be indicative of previous dental care. Missing teeth usually means that the cat is well into its senior years.
In general, senior cats will usually have thicker, coarser coat. They may have patches of white or grey though it might not be obvious in some cats. Keep in mind that the cat’s skin health will be greatly influenced by his diet and nutritional status. A nutritionally starved young cat can have very poor skin health.
Younger cats are more muscular and toned, while older cats often are bonier with some sagging skin. The shoulder bone of senior cats may protrude more and are more visible compared to a younger cat.
Young cats have very bright, clear eyes, usually without any discharge. A senior cat’s eyes may be cloudy, and the irises may appear jagged. Take note as well that certain health conditions may cause cloudiness in the eyes and will need a veterinarian’s attention as soon as possible.
The average lifespan for a pet cat is probably around 13 to 14 years. However, a well-cared-for cat will commonly live to 15 or beyond. Some may even pass 25 or 30 years of age. There are a few things pet parents can do to help their feline kids live a longer and healthier life. That's creating a safe, healthy environment, and feeding a balanced, species-appropriate nutrition.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.