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How to Tell Your Cat’s Age

Posted: 01/03/2024 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Cat , Pet care , Top Tips

If you’ve recently adopted a cat or rescued one off the street, you may not know their age. While it’s always fairly obvious to tell a young cat from an old cat, it’s important to get as close to the correct age as possible so you can ensure you provide the right veterinary care at every stage of their life. With that in mind, let’s dive into the topic of how to tell your cat’s age.

how to tell your cat's age

Here’s How to Tell the Age of Your Cat

The very best way to determine the age of your cat is to take them to your vet. Veterinarians are very good at looking at some specific identifiers to ascertain the cat’s overall maturity. Keep in mind, a vet will not be able to exactly pinpoint your cat’s age, but they can provide you with a fairly accurate educated guess. Here are a few ways your vet will determine your cat’s age:

Teeth

Teeth are an excellent identifier for determining a cat’s age. A kitten’s initial baby teeth emerge between 2 and 4 weeks of age. Permanent teeth will begin to displace baby teeth at around 3 and 4 months of age. Generally speaking, all adult teeth will be in by 6 months of age.

In older cats, vets will look at the amount of staining or tartar on the cat’s teeth. This is a fairly good indicator of age, as is general wear and tear to the teeth.  

Keep in mind, while looking at teeth is one good indicator of how to tell your cat’s age, it is not the be-all-end-all. There are other things your vet will look for.

Sexual Maturity

If you’ve rescued your cat from a rescue organization or local shelter, they will most likely have already been spayed or neutered. Intact cats from off the street can provide some clues as to their sexual maturity.

Female cats will usually experience their first heat between the ages of 5 and 9 months. Female cats give you very obvious signs they are in heat, most notably they become incredibly affectionate (usually) and very vocal.

Male cats will typically reach sexual maturity around 6 months of age. Signs of male sexual maturity include spraying urine to mark their territory. Their testicles will also become more prominent, meaning you can easily see them with a quick glance.

Many towns and cities have an organization that traps and releases cats, spaying and neutering before releasing back into the community. So even if you rescue a cat from off the street, they may not be intact and your vet will need to look for other clues.

Eyes

Young kittens and cats have clear, bright eyes with no usual evidence of clouding, discharge or tearing. Older cats, around 10 years and older, often do have a bit of cloudiness or discharge. Senior cats over 10 years old often have changes to their iris (the colored part of their eye). The iris can appear to have developed a wavy edge. Sometimes the iris will not open or close correctly with exposure to light. So the eyes are a great indicator and can help your vet determine your cat’s age.

Coat 

A cat’s coat is a great indicator of age. Kittens and very young cats will have very soft, fluffy hair. As a cat ages, the coat will begin to thicken and become more coarse. The color of the coat may also lighten or darken with age. Senior cats will typically develop white hairs or patches throughout their coat, just like senior people do.

And finally, how a cat grooms itself can help to indicate how old they are. Cats are fastidious creatures by nature, and young, healthy cats will groom multiple times a day. Senior cats, on the other hand, may begin to slow down on their grooming. This can be because of weight gain, arthritis, dental problems or other health issues. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re wondering how to tell your cat’s age, it is not an exact science. However, you and your vet can get an approximate idea by looking at their teeth, eyes, coat and sexual maturity. Getting an idea of your cat’s age will help you give them the care they need at each step of their life.

And speaking of taking the best care of your fur baby as they age, pet insurance makes it possible for you to pay for all of their medical needs. Can you comfortably afford a vet bill in the thousands of dollars should your cat have an unexpected serious illness or injury?

If you’ve been thinking of getting pet insurance for your cat but weren’t sure which provider to go with, here are the top providers based on over 150,000 reviews from pet parents just like you:

 

Top Pet Insurance Providers of 2024

RatingProviderTotal Review
4.9Embrace14,463
4.9Healthy Paws7,498
4.9Trupanion60,410
4.9Fetch2,378
4.9Lemonade795
4.8Nationwide21,394
4.8Prudent Pet125
4.7ASPCA11,508
4.7Hartville164
4.7PetPartners111
4.7Spot5,787
4.6MetLife528
4.5Pets Best7,216
4.4AKC889
4.4Figo2,619
4.3Pet Assure12
4.3Pumpkin1,257
3.2ManyPets2,268

 

References:

 

  1. https://www.petmd.com/cat/slideshows/6-tips-determining-your-cats-age
  2. https://www.1800petmeds.com/education/how-to-tell-the-age-of-a-cat.html
  3. https://www.catster.com/guides/how-old-is-my-cat/

 

Disclaimer

The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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