It's a known cat fact that cats develop and age rapidly in a short period of time. While we may wish that our kittens and adult cats could live as long as we do, cats develop differently than humans. For example, kittens often develop to the age of a 15-year-old human child in just the first year of their lives, while adult cats are in the prime of their life at 32-years-old in human years, which is only four years young!
While the rapid development of cats may be shocking, the reality is... that even relatively long-lived cats do not live as long as we would like them to. On the plus side, the relative age of cats can differ when factors such as heredity, diet, lifestyle and veterinary care come into play. Although we cannot control much as cat owners when it comes to heredity, we can continue to make positive choices for our pets when it comes to the other aforementioned factors.
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Depending on your definition of the "average cat", the length of time that average cats live may vary. However, with optimal health and good genes, a well-nourished and well-exercised indoor-only cat will typically live longer than indoor-outdoor cats. With that said, indoor-outdoor cats usually live a lot longer than strays and ferals. While this is simply the average, there are always exceptions to every rule. For example, Shannon, the cat pictured here, has lived to 19 years despite... having free access outdoors all his life.
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You may be wondering how exactly a cat's approximate age is determined. Perhaps you have taken in a stray cat that you have been feeding for several weeks, and are curious how old the cat is and what to look for.
While looking at a cat's teeth is often a good indicator, it is not a foolproof method. For that reason, veterinarians prefer to examine the whole cat. Veterinarians typically check multiple feline organs, including teeth, to determine the age of a cat. However, in one situation,... Billy the cat's teeth were not an accurate gauge when he was adopted. Billy's vet thought he was only a few weeks old after examining his teeth, and he turned out to be about five months old, according to his foster who had Billy's mother. Learn more about other cats' organs which help to indicate the true physical age of cats.
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You will be able to understand your cat's development more easily if you have a general idea of his age in human years. This method and the accompanying age chart below will point you in the right direction.
Keep in mind that variable factors, such as heredity, diet, environment, and physical/medical care may affect your cat's comparative age to that of a human. Although you might not have any control over the cat's heredity, you do have options for controlling the other factors which... control your cat's aging process.
The middle cat pictured here was about 24-years-old in human years when this photo was taken.
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The International Cat Care organization has made it seamless and more accurate for people to learn the comparative age of their cats in human years through the conversion chart linked below. The organization has recently added two other life stages, which effectively "borrow" some time from one stage and add it to another:
1. Kitten, from birth to six months old
2. Junior, from six months to two years old
3. Prime, from three years to six years old
4. Mature, from seven to ten years old
5.... Senior, from eleven to fourteen years old
6. Geriatric, from fifteen years and older
Use the Cat Age Conversion Chart to easily determine your cat's approximate age in human years.