How Old is My Cat – Guessing a cat’s age – Pet tip 201
When people adopt a new cat or are thinking about buying a cat they often want to know how old that cat is. If the cat is a kitten this is usually easy. The original owner should know how old the kitten was or if you bring the kitten to a veterinarian, the vet should be able to tell how old the kitten is with a reasonable degree of accuracy. If good records were kept from kitten-hood or previous adoptions, again this is an easy task. The problem occurs when you are considering getting an adult cat whose age and/or history are unknown.
The truth is, is that it’s very difficult to accurately tell how old an adult cat is just by looking at it. A five year old cat can look very similar to an eight year old cat and a two year old cat looks very similar to an 8 year old cat. Sometimes we can make educated guesses as to how old a cat is by looking at its teeth, but even this can be very misleading. The condition of a cat’s teeth has a lot to do with its environment specifically what it eats. A cat that eats hard kibble will have very different looking teeth than a cat that gets fed out of a can. Indoor cats have different looking teeth than stray/feral cats. There is also genetic variability that helps determine what a cat’s teeth look like. Basically there’s no real pattern to look for that helps determine age.
Once a cat does enter its senior years, at that point you can often gauge approximately how old a cat is based on the amount of tartar on its teeth. Most cats have a lot of tartar on their teeth by the time they become seniors and vets with experience can often approximate how old elderly cats are. Again this is only an approximation and the age can off by 2 years or more. If the cat had regular dental cleanings (and most cats should), then the guesswork is even harder since there will be less tartar buildup and therefore a less of a clue.
There are a few other ways that can tell you rough information on a cat’s age but again they are not extremely accurate. When cats enter their senior years their stomachs often start to hang. Many cats also get cloudy eyes or cataracts as they age and this again puts them in their senior years without much accuracy beyond that. At the end of the day we may need to be satisfied with a fair degree of uncertainty. One thing is certain though, cats age much more gracefully than humans.