How Old Is My Cat? How Can I Find Out?
One of the many problems with adopted cats is that you can never be 100% sure if they don’t have an underlying health issue that could pose a serious threat at a later point in their life.
Another common issue for pet parents who have adopted a kitty from the street or from a shelter is that they can’t tell the cat’s real age unless the furball has a legitimate passport. And since age plays a key role for a cat’s health, it’s crucial to know how old your pet is.
If you already know your fluffy friend’s age and you want to find out its equivalent in human years, check out our article on the subject.
However, if you’re not sure about your pet’s real age and you want to determine it, keep reading further. We’ll cover the basic telltale signs, which every vet out there will take into consideration when narrowing the digits down.
How to tell your cat’s age?
Examine the teeth
A human being’s teeth condition is often a telltale sign of the person’s age. The same applies to a cat’s teeth as well.
Kittens have 26 baby teeth. Their older counterparts have 30 permanent ones, which start breaking out around the 3rd-4th month. By the time the cat reaches 1 year, all teeth in its mouth must be permanent.
Young felines have healthy teeth. Whether they’re permanent of baby teeth, these pearly whites are strong and clean. Adult cats aged 1-2 also have sharp, clean and healthy teeth. By the time a cat reaches 5 years its teeth will be stained. Depending on its food and dental hygiene there could be some other problems, such as cavities or gum disease.
Elder cats over 6 years often suffer from tooth decay, missing teeth, tartar build-up, dark stains and bad breath.
Take a closer look at the eyes
Cats don’t see the world the way humans do, but they can suffer from eyesight problems similar to the ones found in human beings. As time goes by, feline vision worsens. As such, you can determine if your cat is an adult or a senior by taking a closer look at its eyes.
Clear and bright eyes with smooth irises and no water/ tear discharge indicate younger age. Jagged irises, blindness, cloudy spots and discharge are a clear sign of old age.
Of course, neglected eye care can harm a feline furball’s eyesight at any life stage. Thus, it’s possible for some cats to have impaired vision even if they’re far from their declining years. Feral cats are more likely to suffer from eye problems than cats that have been kept indoors. Malnourishment, cat fights and harsh environmental conditions can damage any kitty’s eyesight, regardless of its age.
Examine the fur coat
We all want our pets to have shiny, velvety fur. However, even if you’re paying attention to your kitty’s skin and coat care, it will still worsen as the cat’s age progresses.
Unfortunately, apart from old age, dermal problems can be caused by numerous other factors. Cancer and other diseases, fleas and parasites, malnourishment, harsh weather conditions, stress and emotional disorders – all of these and many more factors can ruin even a young kitty’s overall skin and fur coat condition.
Flaky skin, thinned fur, bald patches and dandruff are just some of the problematic telltale signs, which indicate either a cat’s old age or the lack of proper healthcare.
Inspect the overall body shape and muscle mass
Each feline breed has different specifications regarding the body’s overall built, muscle tone, shape and size. Kittens and young cats have a tendency of being more muscular and better built than their older counterparts. Older felines can become overweight easier than younger ones. What’s more, elderly cats also get bonier and as their age progresses, their skin becomes visibly saggy and hanging.
Young cats can be bony too, especially if they haven’t been properly taken care of. Moreover, many diseases (on both physical and mental level) can make a young or adult kitty appear severely older.
Poorly defined muscle tone isn’t always a proper indicator of a cat’s age. The same goes for the condition of its eyesight and fur coat. However, if you pay close attention to all of the previously mentioned 4 aspects of a cat’s body, you’ll be able to determine if it’s a youngster, an adult, an elderly feline or a senior in its declining years.
If you can’t really guess a feline furball’s age, you could always take it to a veterinarian’s office and ask. Unless you’ve gotten the cat from a reputable breeder, chances are you might get misled into believing it’s older or younger than it actually is.