If you aren’t sure how old your cat is, there are a few easy ways to find out

Knowing your cat’s age can help you provide him with the care that he needs as he progresses through his life. Your vet will know to watch for certain illnesses and conditions that can emerge at particular ages, and you’ll be able to adjust your cat’s diet from kitten food to food for adult cats at the right time. But sometimes you might not know your cat’s birth date, or you might have only an approximate age for him.

If you adopt a cat from a shelter, that’s often the case, or if you take in a cat from a friend or family member, you might have limited information on the cat. If you’re wondering, “How old is my cat?” the following tips can help you guess his approximate age.

Grey cat leaning over a stone wall

Look at the teeth

If your cat is young, his teeth might offer insight to his age. Kittens start to develop baby teeth at about 2 weeks old, and those teeth finish coming in once the kitten is about 8 weeks old. When the kitten reaches 4 months of age, his baby teeth will start to fall out, since they’re pushed out by his adult teeth. Kittens will usually have all their adult teeth once they’re 7 months old.

Judging by your kitten’s teeth can be a little tricky, and this method is really useful only until your kitten reaches about 7 months of age. Your vet can help you examine your kitten’s teeth and guess his approximate age.

Look at your cat’s eyes

Your cat’s eyes can also offer some insight into his age. Kittens’ eyes are bright and clear, but once a cat reaches about 6 years old, his lenses start to become a little cloudy. Your cat’s iris will also gradually break down as he ages, which is normal but prevents your cat’s pupil from fully contracting. Again, your vet can help you recognize what age your cat’s eyes imply he is.

Activity and grooming

Your cat’s activity level and grooming habits may also provide some clues about his age. Younger cats and kittens tend to be highly playful and active, but their activity level tapers off as they age.

Younger cats also tend to be thorough groomers, but as cats age, arthritis and general lack of mobility can make it more difficult for them to groom themselves as thoroughly.

How do you calculate a cat’s age?

Your vet can help you weigh all the above factors and then make an educated guess about your cat’s age. Unless you know your cat’s birth date, there’s no way to truly calculate his precise age. So, with your vet’s input, you can reasonably estimate how old your cat might be.

White cat playing with a scratching post

Your cat’s age in human years

It used to be assumed that one year of your cat’s life equaled seven years of human life, but that calculation isn’t quite accurate. Consider how quickly your cat grows during his first year of life — a 1-year-old cat is actually equivalent to a 15-year-old human. Once your cat is 2 years old, that’s the equivalent of a 24-year-old human.

The best way to determine your cat’s age in human years is to use a cat age calculator.

How long do outdoor cats live?

On average, outdoor cats live significantly shorter lives than indoor cats. According to a report by the University of California Davis, indoor cats live an average of 10 to 15 years, while outdoor cats live only two to five years, on average. Outdoor cats are subject to many more risks than indoor cats are, including the threats of predators and road traffic.

Understanding how old your cat is can help you ensure he’s getting the care that he needs. You and your vet can work together to watch for some health issues that tend to occur at different stages of your cat’s life, and you can be prepared to support your cat through common challenges of growing older, like arthritis. While you might never know precisely how old your cat is, you can usually get an approximation. And when it comes to your cat’s birthday, you can decide which day will be his special day and then, of course, celebrate accordingly!

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