How Old Is Your Cat? – Determining Your Cat’s Age

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One of the most common questions cat owners pose is: how old is my cat?

It turns out that cats have a lot of characteristics and different traits that make it quite easy for you to estimate their age. However, unless you have been taking care of a cat since its birth, it is very difficult if not impossible to determine its age with exact certainty.

Cat owners who rescued or adopted their cats from the streets or from shelters can often get a good estimate of their cat’s age by doing a little research and knowing a few things.

In this article, we’ll talk about the six things you should review in order to get the best estimate as to how old your cat is.


1. Teeth

Mackerel cat with mouth open and teeth exposed

If you have a younger cat, it will be much easier to understand how old it is. Vets are able to examine details such as the teeth that might reveal the cat’s years.

As a rule, the less teeth there are in the mouth, the younger the cat is. Usually, the teeth start growing 2 weeks after the birth of the kitten, and the whole process of teeth growth can last up to 8 months.

Here is a timetable of teeth growth in cats:

Cat AgeActivity
< 2 weeksNo teeth
2-3 weeksFirst baby teeth grow
3-4 weeksDeciduous canines grow
4-6 weeksDeciduous premolars grow
4 monthsAll baby teeth grown & no molars

Even if your cat isn’t young, teeth are still a great way to figure out your cat’s age.

Normally, when a cat is 6 months old, it’s supposed to have all of its teeth fully grown. But it’s still quite possible to find out a cat’s age even after it’s fully grown and has obtained all of its teeth.

If a cat has cheek teeth on both sides, that means it could be about 1 to 2 years old. In older cats, teeth will usually be worn out from extended use, and some of them could even have issues such as tartar, which could imply an older age.


2. Weight

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A cat’s weight can help you estimate the age as well. Note that healthy kittens normally weight about 3.5 oz at birth and gain about 0.25 oz of weight per day.

Generally, if a kitten weighs about 3 or 4 pounds, then it’s most likely 3 or 4 months old.

Weight is a great indicator of age. However, it only works well with younger cats that are less than 6 months old, when the so-called “teenage years” end.

Once a cat is over a year old, it could easily pack on a lot of weight, and it will no longer be a good indicator of age.


3. Fur

Young fur of a kitten

In general, the older a cat gets, the more fur it gets. In addition, a cat’s fur will become thicker and coarser with age.

Some kittens may have substantial amounts of fur, but that depends on their lineage and breed; in most cases, it’s not going to be much.

Having said this, unless you have the experience and knowledge of a vet, it will likely be very hard to figure out how old your cat is just by looking at its fur.

The fur may also become darker or lighter with age, with senior cats developing some white or gray hairs. A kitten’s fur tends to be soft and has a finer texture.


4. Whiskers

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Cat fur might not be the best way to indicate age, but if a cat is less than a few months old or geriatric, the whiskers are a much better indicator.

Over time, cat whiskers tend to gain length until they match the width of the cat. Whiskers should already be visible at the 1-month mark and be growing slowly.

If a kitten has short whiskers, that could be a great help in determining your cat’s age. But when it comes to older cats, the only differences you may see in its whiskers are some possible greying or the odd whisker falling out more often.


5. Eyes

Close-up of cat eyes

As a rule, cat eyes become cloudier with age.

The eyes of kittens and young adults will usually look clean and clear, without any tearing or signs of discharge.

It is widely known that when a cat is about 6-7 years old, its eye lenses become denser, similar to what happens to human eyes at around 40 years of age.

At around 10 years of age, a cat may develop tearing in the eyes, and the cloudiness of its eyes will often become very noticeable.

A senior cat may also develop iris atrophy. The issue occurs when the inside of the iris (the colored part of the eye) starts to break down. The pupil cannot get as small as usual. You may also notice a slightly wavy look to the inside part of the iris.

To accurately estimate age based on the eyes, you’ll probably need to see a vet.


6. Grooming Habits

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Look at your cat’s grooming habits and observe how well it cleans itself.

Young cats tend to groom more and be more meticulous because it doesn’t cause them pain and they are often more sensitive to their own appearance.

In contrast, an older cat tends to groom less or may even struggle to clean itself. It might not be as effective with self-grooming due to gaining weight, developing arthritis, or having various dental issues.

Older cats might struggle to reach certain spaces, or it will become too painful to continue grooming. The problem is especially noticeable in long-haired cats.


Conclusion

When trying to figure out the age of a cat, there are many indicators you can look at.

If you have adopted or rescued a young kitten from a shelter, it will be much easier to estimate its age while it’s young. Young kittens and cats that are in their teenage years have a lot more physical and behavioural traits that separate them from their older counterparts.

Before cats reach 6 months of age, they slowly obtain teeth, fur, nails, and even whiskers. But it will be difficult for the average cat owner to estimate age based on these characteristics without the help of a qualified veterinarian.

Be advised that any estimate is likely an educated guess, and there is no particular trait that will give you all the answers.

If you have a cat and don’t know it’s age, you should consult your vet to get a best estimate. For more information on how cats grow, see this page.

Thanks for reading this article. What age do you think your cat is? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

5 Comments

  1. Mary Sanson August 15, 2019
    • Kevin August 16, 2019
  2. Trace McIvor January 8, 2021
  3. Greg D . February 8, 2021
    • Kevin February 9, 2021

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