How old is your cat in human years

How old is your cat in human years ?

Do you know your cat’s age? If your cat is a rescue, you might have found yourself unable to determine how old your feline companion actually is. Assessing the physical maturity of cats is very helpful in that it provides a way for you to meet their age-related specific needs and ensure they have a healthy and happy life.

By looking at your cat’s teeth, coat, eyes and muscle tone, it is possible to determine their age with satisfying accuracy. But even if you know your cat’s exact age, have you ever wondered how old your cat is in human years?

You have probably heard the saying that one cat or dog year is equal to seven human years. That tends to be common knowledge supposedly rooted in science, but it’s actually a myth and an oversimplification of the weirdly amazing way in which our feline friends age and mature.

While it is true that cats age much faster than you might expect, the calculation for determining their age is a bit more progressive than the popular 1:7 ratio.

How old is your cat in human years ?

Unlike dogs, cats of all breeds, shapes and sizes tend to age in one standard way. Naturally, there is a certain degree of deviation in the way your individual cat ages, but these variations are small and easily overlooked.

According to the guidelines created by the American Animal Hospital Association, the Feline Advisory Bureau and the American Association of Feline Practitioners:

  • 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 human years
  • From the third year on, each additional year is equal to about four human year

As you can see, cats do not age proportionately to humans. If you have ever had the pleasure of observing kittens grow up, you will probably agree that cats age incredibly fast during the first two years of their life. But after the second year, the process naturally slows down to a steadier tempo, with bigger intervals and less dramatic metabolic and hormonal disruptions.

How was the calculation created?

Veterinarians and scientists had to take an in-depth look at the way cats grow and develop, before coming to decide that the ratios listed above match reality in a satisfying way.

They compared different stages of a cat’s life with complementary stages of human life, and analyzed a myriad of complex physiological, anatomical and behavioral changes. After all, the stages of growth and development of a cat can be matched to more or less similar human life phases, and from there it’s an easy calculation of how much time does a cat need to reach certain developmental threshold, such as s*xual maturity, versus how long does it take a human being to achieve the same in their own respective way.

So for example, a one-year-old cat is pretty much on the same level of physiological development as a fifteen-year-old human. Cats reach adolescence in their first year of life, whereas becoming a human teenager requires quite a lot of time and resources. And by the end of their second year, a cat is thought to be the equivalent of 24 human years.

Once a cat reaches 10-11 years, they are considered senior citizens and it can be said that their age is an equivalent to that of a 60-year-old human. Just like people, cats show visible signs of aging, such as decreased muscle tone, weaker physique and changes in fur, eye and teeth health. Senior cats continue to age at a rate of 4 human years per cat year.

Cats have an average life expectancy of 16-18 years, even though many cats live to the incredibly ripe age of 20. That’s 80+ human years – and it’s our job to make sure that all of those years are well-lived!

Signs of aging in cats

Besides obvious signs such as age-related health issues and disorders, the physical indicators of a senior cat include:

  • Yellow, stained or blackened teeth, as well as loss of teeth
  • Coarse, graying and thicker fur
  • Cloudy eyes with tearing and discharge
  • Decline in activity level
  • Weight loss
  • Behavioral changes, including anxiety issues, confusion and restlessness, often accompanied by a lot of meowing

Keeping track of your cat’s aging process is also important for being able to anticipate and accommodate their needs and health problems, and providing them with proper care at all stages of life. Much like elderly people, senior cats tend to develop diseases such as arthritis, cancer and kidney or liver disease. 

Do indoor or outdoor cats live longer?

Even though the AHA considers this topic to be controversial and well-argued from both sides, it is generally considered as a fact that indoor cats have a longer life expectancy than outdoor cats. This is largely because outdoor cats live in much more difficult conditions, often being on the verge of survival.

They must face a lot of dangers and vulnerabilities which don’t affect indoor cats at all, such as harsh weather conditions, threats from predators, ever-increasing traffic and potentially deadly diseases transmitted from other animals. Indoor cats, on the other hand, are very sheltered and

However, despite their rough predicament, outdoor cats enjoy one immensely important benefit: a vast, natural, stimulating and incredibly interactive environment, which allows them to roam free, get plenty of exercise, keep their senses sharpened and discover endless ways of having fun.

A cat’s health is not only about the right diet and level of activity – it’s also has to do a lot with the environment they inhabit, and its advantages or limitations. And as much as try to create the perfect home for our cats, indoor cats may be at a greater risk for certain illnesses because they lack continuous contact with a raw natural environment.

Therefore, there are no guarantees, really. A much loved and extremely well cared for cat can fall terribly ill, while a stray cat can gain the resilience and skills needed for a long and eventful life out in the street. So it’s best to accept that there’s no certain way of knowing how long your cat will live, while making sure to provide them a lifestyle that increases their life expectancy. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest cat in the world lived for 38 years, or 168 human years, so anything is possible!

The Takeaway

Now that you know how to turn cat years into human years, we hope you’ll have fun determining your feline best friends’ true age and imagining them as hormone-laden teenagers, adults in existential crisis and grumpy old-timers.

And even though you can’t know for sure how long your cat will live, you should definitely track their aging process and adjust living conditions accordingly.

Do your best to optimize your cat’s health and well-being in any stage of life. As long as you help them maintain a good-quality diet, a healthy weight and an appropriate level of stimulation and activity, we are pretty sure that you’ll get to enjoy many long years in the company of your beloved feline.

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