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How Old is Your Cat?

21 January 2021
How old is your cat in ‘human years’? Eight, eighteen or eighty? You’d treat a person of each age differently and the same’s true for cats!

For their size, cats live quite a long time. Generally, an animal’s longevity is proportional to its size (with the exception of tortoises, man and a few other animals).

A tiny mouse has a short lifespan, a rabbit somewhat longer and a dog between 7 and 20 years depending on its breed or size, its activity, or both. Cats aren’t much bigger than rabbits, but whereas the rabbit may live about 8 years, a cat will live on average about 12–14 years, and it’s not unusual for cats to reach their late teens or even their early 20s. There are 6 general life stages for cats:

Kittens
0-6 months (although they are technically still a kitten until they reach 1 year.) This is a period when the young cat is growing rapidly and is usually not quite sexually mature.

Junior
7 months – 2 years
During this time the cat reaches full size and learns about life and how to survive it.

Prime
3-6 years
The cat is mature physically and behaviourally, and is still usually healthy and active, looking sleek and shiny and making the best of life.

Mature
7-10 years
The cat is what we call ‘Mature’, equivalent to humans in their mid-40s to mid-50s. 

Senior
11-14 years
Takes the cat up to the equivalent of about 70 human years.

Super Senior
15 years and over
Many cats do reach this stage, some not showing any signs of being so senior in age.
The rule of thumb “1 x pet year = 7 human years” doesn’t reflect the dra-matic growth spurts seen in kittens. While better healthcare and nutrition means adult cats are living longer and ageing (comparatively) slower than ever before. Check the chart below and you may be surprised at how ‘young’ your cat is.
Now while 50 may be the new 30, you still need to plan for their golden years. Switching to an age-appropriate diet will ensure they’ll enter their third age with the nutrients they need. And after 10 years of chicken kibble, those teeth probably need a clean too!
Sometimes they gain grey noses, wise old eyes and a more considered gait, but all old age pets are simply great. They just need a little extra help to stay that way. 

The table below shows all of the stages and also the equivalent human age. What these stages let us do is to appreciate how old the cat is inside, since, as has been pointed out, this is often not very obvious from the outside, as cats seldom go grey or show outward signs of pain or illnesses such as arthritis.