Changes Seen During The Main Stages of Cat Years

  • 01 of 04

    Life Stages of Cat Years

    Photo of Mother Cat and Kitten
    Mother Cat and Kitten. Getty Images / Nevena Uzurov

    Cats go through three main stages of aging. Their nutrition needs, activity levels, and veterinary care will vary during these three stages.

    Three Life Stages of Cat Years

    • Kittenhood
      Kittenhood lasts from birth to one year (Approximately 15 in human years.) This year, especially the first six weeks, marks the fastest growth of a cat's life. A diet of kitten food (at least for the first nine months), regular veterinary care, and training, all set the standards for future health and well-being.
    • Mai...MOREntenance Years
      During the maintenance years of one to approximately 10 years, growth has ceased, and the activity level may start declining toward the end of this life stage. A nutritious diet of adult food, encourage of exercise with interactive toys, and routine veterinary care will help guarantee your adult cat's continuing good health.
    • Senior Years
      Cats are generally considered seniors at the age of 10 years. Veterinary care becomes increasingly important, in order to detect early symptoms of diseases which target older cats.
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  • 02 of 04

    Life Stages of Cat Years: Kittenhood

    Picture of Kitten Jaspurr in Vet's Office at 6.5 Weeks
    Kitten Jaspurr in Vet's Office at 6.5 Weeks. Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

    Kittenhood is the first life stage of cats. Kittenhood lasts from birth to one year (approximately 15 years in human age) and marks the fastest growing stage of a cat's life.

    All newly-adopted cats of unknown parentage, including kittens, should be immediately examined by your veterinarian.

    Kitten's First Vet Visit

    If you have other cats in the home, your kitten should be isolated until his first vet visit. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough "hands-on" physical exam on the...MORE kitten. In addition, your kitten will have several lab tests performed, and possibly get his first Core Vaccines aka "kitten shots."

    Read more about your Kitten's First Vet Visit

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  • 03 of 04

    Life Stages of Cat Years: Adult, aka Maintenance Years

    Photo of Man Sleeping With Cat
    Man Sleeping With Cat. Getty Images / Hero Images

    The second life stage of cat years is the adult stage, sometimes known as the "maintenance years." Cats have ceased the rapid growth period of kittenhood and have stabilized their overall size and weight, however, our responsibility for them has not ceased. These years are crucial because it is during this period that the first tendencies toward age-related disease can show up, such as feline diabetes, arthritis, or heart disease.

    Veterinary Care for Adult Cats

    Adult cats should be seen...MORE annually for a wellness check, and to receive any necessary Core Vaccine booster shots. It is important to routinely examine your cat at home, to spot any potential problems, such as lumps, ear mites, and excessive weight gain. It is also important to know your cat's habits. Be alert for changes such as the following:

    • Limping
      Limping or slow gait when climbing stairs can be a symptom or arthritis or injury. In either case, a vet visit is indicated.
    • Change in Litter Box Habits
      Peeing outside the box is often a sign of urinary blockage or FLUTD, and is an indication for a vet visit ASAP. Diarrhea, absent a food change or painful constipation also should trigger a vet visit.
    • Change in Appetite
      Sudden loss of appetite can be an indication of several diseases, and the cat should be seen by a vet for diagnosis and treatment. The same applies for cats who eat constantly but do not gain weight.

    "Know Your Cat" is the first rule of knowing when to call the vet.

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  • 04 of 04

    Life Stages of Cat Years - Senior Cats and Geriatric Cats

    Bubba Lived a Healthy Life Well Into His Senior Years
    Bubba Lived a Healthy Life Well Into His Senior Years. Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

    Senior cats suffer many of the same conditions and diseases as older humans, but careful management can vastly improve both their potential life span and their quality of life. Depending on several factors, cats may enter their senior years sometime between eight and ten years of age. Veterinary care assumes greater importance, and even healthy senior cats should be seen at least twice a year by a veterinarian. If a cat has one or more of the diseases common to seniors, he or she may be seen...MORE several times a year for monitoring, as these diseases are considered chronic.

    Diseases That Target Senior Cats

    Learn more about the care of senior cats with our Care of Your Senior Cat Tutorial

    For more information about cats' development over the years, see the Expanded Chart of Cat - to Human Age.