How To Tell The Age Of Your Cat

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How To Tell The Age Of Your Cat

If you are someone who has rescued your pet, or if you just found your pet, then it can be hard to tell how old your cats are.

While a veterinarian is your best partner in determining the current age of a cat, there are some hints to help you get a rough estimate.

A thorough veterinary examination of the cat’s entire body will generally help to determine an approximate age of the cat; however, vets tend to look at a few body parts in particular when trying to estimate how old the cat might be.

Teeth

The biggest indicator that my vet showed me what to check for when determining age is teeth.

Teeth are a best indicator of age for kittens.

Kittens get their first baby first come in between 2 to 4 weeks.

At about 3 to 4 months, their permanent teeth will start to replace the baby teeth.

Typically, all of the adult teeth are in place by 6 months of age, and the growth is no longer useful in determining a cat’s age.

In older cats, the amount of staining, or tartar, on a cat’s teeth is also an indicator of age. (This along with a few other factors is what the doctors were able to do the help me determine Phoebe’s age).

However, with pets’ teeth cleaning products readily available, tartar may not be a good indicator depending on the diligence of the cat’s caregiver in providing a dental care program.

Therefore, while teeth are a good indicator of a cat or kitten’s approximate age, they are not always the BEST way.  

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Sexual Maturity

The next best way to get an estimate of your cats age is their sexual maturity. Now this is important because obviously this only works if your cat is not spayed or neutered.

Most kittens should not be spayed until they are about 5 months old. Some foster programs recommend doing an early spaying at 5-6 weeks. So if you know you have a kitten and they are spayed, then you know they have to be more the 6 weeks old.

Male cats reach sexual maturity around 5 months. When they are wanting to mate, or sense a female in heat, they will likely act out from their typical behavior trying to mate with this cat. (It’s an instinctual thing).

Female cats will have their first heat sometime between the ages of 5 and 12 months. If you want to know if a cat is in heat, I will write an entire post on it in the future. Let me give a high level overview and say…trust me, you’ll know.  

Coat Development

The next factor of how to tell the age of your cat is to look at the new kitten’s coat.

A kitten’s coat is baby-fine and soft.

However, as a cat ages, its coat will thicken and coarsen.

While it’s not a guarantee of age, the coat helps a vet determine the age of a cat. You also need to take into consideration the breed of the cat, as well as where they were found.

We found a lost cat that had been missing for 5 years. The poor baby was about 8 years old from what the owner told me. His coat was completely covered in mats. And it wasn’t because of his age.

It was because he was a long haired cat that was stuck outside for 5 years.

Eyes

The second to last factor in determining a cat’s age is by peering into their eyes.

I will warn you this is my least favorite method to determine a cat’s age. Mostly because it can vary from breeds, to cat’s genetics, and even based on their unique mannerisms.

In general, a healthy kitten eyes that are very clear and bright, with no evidence of tearing or discharging.

The thought is that when they are older they starting getting tears and discharge in their eyes.

Again, this is not always a great indicator of age. I have two cats that get eye boogers all the time. And we KNOW their ages and it is definitely not on the “older” side.

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cat off bed

Talk To A Vet

My last and favorite recommendation on how to tell the age of your cat is to talk to a vet. Not only will they have experience reviewing these factors, they also are used to different aged cats.

They are going to know faster and easier roughly where the cat is in their life based on the other cats they see on a daily basis.

And the truth of the matter is this, it will be hard to truly nail down an exact age.

Like with Phoebe, we will truth never know her real birthday, or how old she was when we found her. We got as close as we could based on the information we were given.

And at the end of the day, I could have her for 10 years or 15 years, and her starting age doesn’t matter. It’s the time I get to spend with her that really counts.

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