How Old is My Cat In Human Years?

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: August 11, 2021


True or false: One year of a cat’s life is the equivalent of seven human years.

Take a second…

Many believe this myth to be a fact. It’s been generally applied to both cats and dogs. The theory’s been commonly passed around for who knows how long. The belief is the “one year to seven-year” ratio came about to demonstrate our believed housepets age at a much faster rate than humans do.

The truth is our felines age much faster than even the rumor implies.

So, what’s the best way to accurately determine how old your cat is in relation to human years?

Read on.

Cats

Cats are second to dogs on the list of most popular animals in the world. They’re domesticated members of the cat family and its smallest member. As felids, domestic cats have low-slung, supple bodies, long tails that help maintain balance, finely molded heads, and specialized claws and teeth useful in hunting.

Like their cousins the lion and tigers, domesticated cats are essentially carnivorous. And as any tabby owner knows, they are remarkably agile, tend to be powerful, and extraordinarily coordinated as they move and jump about.

Numero uno — the dog — lived in packs before domestication. The dog readily adapted to being a domesticated pet. The cat was not so easily subjugated. House cats are self-reliant and loners. They’re curious, brave creatures and easily find themselves in trouble. But they’re hard to stay mad at. No matter what risk they take, you’re too relieved to get your ire up.

Cats are beautiful and intelligent. Their purrs of happiness are candy to many cat owners. They don’t require the maintenance of other animals, especially dogs. You can leave them home alone as long as they have access to food and water. A companion — a dog or another pussycat — might be appreciated by kitty, but they don’t panic or get anxious when left alone.

When you get home, they’ll run up, purring and rubbing your shins. And not just because they know a meal’s coming soon.

Cats ingratiate themselves into your life, becoming beloved family members.

How Old is My Cat
Two adorable kittens playing together. Cats are some of the most loving companions.

Is Knowing Your Cat’s Age Important?

Felines live longer than dogs. On average, your kitty can live between 20 and 25 years.

Knowing if your pet is approaching its senior years is critical to knowing how to care for it. We consider canines to be mature or senior at seven years while cats are mature — middle-aged — between seven to 10. The cat becomes senior in its 11th year. They’re senior until they turn 15, after which they’re categorized as “geriatric.”

The animal’s age greatly influences their weight and diet as well as how often they should get regular check-ups. The vet will be instrumental in ensuring the best chances of your kitty living a healthy life.

It might make sense to get pet insurance before your cat gets too old. Like humans, older cats will get expected illnesses or have unexpected accidents.

Cat to Human Age Chart

Converting cat to human years isn’t as simple as using seven human years to every one cat year. Mostly because kitties mature faster in their first years of life compared to both humans and dogs.

The accepted practice is to add 15 years to the cat’s first year. You add 10 years to the second year. From that point on, it’s four years of human life for every animal year. Using the calculation, you’ll find your cat is mature by two years, the equivalent of a human a quarter-century old.

StageCat AgeIn Human Years
Kitten1 month1 year
3 months4 years
6 months10 years
Junior12 months15 years
18 months21 years
3 months4 years
2 years24 years
Adult3 or more years28 years
and four years for each additional cat year
Senior11 to 14 years60
and four years for each additional cat year
Geriatric15 years and older82 years
and four years for each additional cat year

How Cats Age

As stated, the common one year to seven is misleading. The feline goes through the equivalent of many human years during the first two years of life. The aging process will slow down for a while before beginning steady aging.

The cat-to-human aging calculation derives from the behavioral and physical changes that occur at different stages of your cat’s life. Said stages match up to those found in the patterns of human life.

The theory operates under the concept that at one year of age, the kitty is physiologically akin to a 15-year-old human. Studies show that relatively at these points in their lifespans, the human and the cat are at a close stage of development and growth.

Cats, dogs, and humans will show variations in the way they age. But cats typically show less variation in the way they age among the breeds. Dog years (like humans) can differentiate among breeds. For instance, smaller dog breeds tend to live longer. But you can’t use this concept with tabbies. It seems regardless of breeds, the variations aren’t significant enough when it comes to aging. Cat breeds seem to follow very similar patterns as they grow older.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats

How Old is My Cat
Balinese cat sitting on a cherry tree in a green garden.

It may sound strange but where your pet stays indoors, outdoors, or dabbles in both can play a role in how they age. While it’s a debatable topic in the animal kingdom, there is reportedly reliable rationale data on both sides of the argument.

Animals that remain indoors don’t expose themselves to the trauma or infectious diseases that can result from running around outdoors. That may result in longer lifespans. But the other side argues indoor felines are at greater risk of illness to environmental limitations.

The exact opposite applies to outdoor felines. They may have stronger immune systems by engaging in stimulating, natural, new environments. But they also increase the potential for stress, trauma, and disease as they explore the unknown.

Owners, knowing the signs of aging and their cat’s lifestyle, will be able to better decide how to manage their pet as they age.

Signs of a Senior Cat

There are distinctive physical indicators to help you get an idea of your animal’s age. This is especially true as your adult kitty reaches that senior phase.

  • The teeth will yellow and develop tartar build-up. The cat will also start losing teeth. If all teeth are clearly stained, the cat is probably three to five years of age. Missing teeth indicate the cat’s a respectable 10 to 15 years old. You should keep in mind your feline may just have bad teeth!
  • Older animals get thicker and coarser and start to gray. Soft and fine fur is for the young, like full heads of hair!
  • Eyes are a useful resource for figuring out your cat’s age. The eyes may display cloudiness, discharge or tearing. There may be a distinctive crackly look to the iris as opposed to a natural smoothness. That can distinguish a young cat (smooth) from a senior (crackly). After 12, there is usually cloudiness. Tearing is a sign of maturity.
  • Arthritis is common among older cats but only regular checkups will reveal the condition. In fact, most signs of age are near hidden so it’ll be up to you to pay attention. Like humans, activity levels impact muscle definition. Kitties playing, running and jumping are common in youngsters. If your pet’s muscle mass is diminishing or it’s moving around significantly less, you’re looking at an older animal. Seniors will be bonier, have protruding shoulder blades or hanging skin.
  • The pet will show muscle or weight loss, getting bonier.
  • Even your most laid-back feline will show signs of diminishing energy.
  • Behavior changes may include wandering, more meowing, disorientation or confusion.
  • Older kitties can seem to forget where the litter box is.

World’s Oldest Cat

There are plenty of stories about the world’s oldest kitty. We went to the most reliable resource for record-keeping. The Guinness Book of World Records lists the oldest cat at 38 years and 3 days. That’s 168 in human years. His name was Creme Puff. Born on August 3, 1967, Creme Puff died on August 6, 2005. His owner, Jake Perry, lived in Austin, Texas. Curiously, Perry also owned Granpa Rex Allen, another feline holder of — at that time — the oldest living tabby.

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