Cats mature gracefully. Even though it's easy to tell a kitten from an adult cat, it can be hard to tell how old a cat is once they hit the adult stage. For the most part, an adult cat looks very similar to a senior cat. Making determining their age even harder, most cats are adults around 9 to 12 months old. If you're wondering how to tell a cat's age, you should know these five surefire ways to pinpoint how old your cat is.
First, a Primer on Cat Ages
Before we dive into how to tell a cat's age, let's first review the cat age stages. Six stages comprise a cat's life. From 0-6 months, they are kittens. Kittens are small, adorable, and always exploring so that they can learn more about their environment. From 7-24 months, felines enter the junior stage. Juniors are becoming more independent and getting ready for the transition to being in their prime years.
After two years, a cat is in its prime. This time is when your cat will be the most alert and will have the most ability. They'll be in this phase until they hit the seven-year mark. At seven years, your cat will be mature. After ten years, they'll be senior. Finally, after fifteen years, they'll be geriatric.
So, when looking for how to tell a cat's age, really what you're trying to do is figure out in which of these age buckets they fall. It's tough to tell the difference between a seven-month-old cat and an eight-month-old cat, but, as we'll see, it's relatively easy to determine whether your cat is in its junior years or if it's of the senior cat age.
How to Tell a Cat's Age: Look at Their Teeth
Teeth are a fantastic indicator of a cat's age. First, all teeth don't come in for a cat until they hit approximately six months, so if you look inside of their mouth and have any teeth missing, you know you have a kitten. Second, if you have an adult cat with all their teeth, you can sometimes tell the feline's age by looking at the stains. As they eat more, their teeth become more stained. Therefore, if you see pearly whites, you have a younger cat. If you see older teeth, there's a chance that you're looking at a more elderly feline.
Of course, this method is a mere approximation, but it can at least help you get a hunch about how old the cat might be.
The Softness of Their Coat
A kitten's fur coat is soft, silky, and smooth. It's spotless and immaculate. However, as with human hair, as the cat ages, the fur coat becomes less soft. They may even develop patches of grey or white fur (just like humans do on their heads!).
Often a vet, who has seen thousands of cats and petted many coats of fur, can get a pretty good sense of how to tell a cat's age just by petting them!
Cloudy Eye Appearance or Discharge
Cats tend to have relatively bright, crisp eyes for most of their life. Only in the senior cat age (at ten years) will they begin to develop eye problems. Therefore, if your cat has cloudy eyes or has any eye discharge, that's a reliable indicator that you have a senior or geriatric cat.
Mobility and Activity Levels
Older cats love to sleep, while kittens love to play. While some older cats are spry and active, generally speaking, the more mature the cat is, the more sedentary it will be.
Senior cats and kittens need to sleep approximately the same amount of time each day - 20 hours. Adult cats, on the other hand, need to rest between 12-15 hours per day. Again, much of this is cat-dependent, but if you take a few days to time how much your cat is sleeping, you should get a rough idea of if they are an adult cat or a senior one.
Use a Cat Age Chart
There are many cat age charts online that provide photos of cats at each of these aging stages. If you find one, you can use it as a reference. Look at your cat and compare it to the ones you see. You might find that it looks like the junior cats, or you might find that it seems older like the senior ones.
Regardless of where your cat is, a cat age chart is one method for how to tell a cat's age!
How to Tell a Cat's Age: Possible, But Tricky
As we've seen, it's possible to get a ballpark estimate of how old your cat is by looking at a few features. If they have lots of energy, appear smaller, have soft fur, and don't have all their teeth, you're looking at a kitten. If they still have lots of energy, smooth hair, but have all their teeth, you're probably looking at a cat in its prime. Finally, if you're looking at a cat that has eye discharge, has a duller coat, and has less energy, you probably have a senior cat.
When in doubt, ask a vet! Since they have seen so many cats before, they often have remarkably accurate guesses on how old these felines are.