Like all pet lovers, cat owners love to consider how old their cat is in human years. While not an exact science, it is a bit of fun to imagine how old our pets would be if they could suddenly transform into a human being. Yet, understanding how old your cat is “in human years” has a practical effect, too. By equivocating cats’ ages with humans, we are better able to understand at what stage of life our pets are experiencing. This allows owners and vets to appreciate cats’ energy and hormone levels, to explain their behaviours and needs, while also helping us to anticipate likely injuries and illnesses.
Cats typically live around 15 years, although this is only an average; feline lifespans vary greatly depending on each cat’s genes, lifestyle and what cat food they eat or diet they follow. Breed is significant, too. For instance, Maine Coons and Bengals tend to live for 10-15 years, while British Shorthairs and Ragdolls average closer to 20 years. Naturally, each cat is different, and some will live long beyond the breed’s average life expectancy.
As different breeds age at different rates, there isn’t a simple formula to estimate a cat’s equivalent age. Like dogs, who don’t actually age 7 human years for every dog year, cats age much more rapidly during their first 2 years of life than at any other point. However, while cats cannot tell us how they feel at different stages of life, vets can use comparative indicators to estimate their age in human years. The key indicators which can apply to most cats include:
As a rough guide, most cats are considered sexually mature (and so are adolescent) at 6 to 10 months. By the time they are 2-years-old, cats are fully grown and in peak physical conditions, and so are considered to be approximately 24 or 25 in equivalent human years. The table below gives an average indicator of cats’ equivalent human ages throughout their lifetime, although this varies among different breeds.
|Age of Cat||Indoor Cat: Equivalent Human Age (Years)||
Outdoor Cat: Equivalent Human Age (Years)
Indoor cats often live a much more sheltered and slow-pace life, and are less likely to cause themselves injury through wear-and-tear, accidents or by getting into fights with other animals. Consequently, outdoor cats may age much faster than their indoor counterparts. It is thought that, indoor cats age 4 human years for every year they live, while outdoor cats age 8 years. This quickly leads to a big discrepancy between life expectancy and physical age gaps. A 5-year-old indoor cat may be the equivalent of a 36-year-old human, while an outdoor cat could be physically closer to a 48-year-old person. With this reasoning, by the time the cats are 10, the indoor cat is the human equivalent of 56, while the outdoor cat is 88. Just as human athletes tend to suffer more worn out joints in their old age after years of high impact, so do outdoor cats suffer physically after living more active lifestyles. Again, these are just indicators and every cat is different. Genes and diet play just as much of a role in cats’ life expectancy as breed and lifestyle, so it is important to feed your cat a healthy diet so they grow up strong, fit and happy.