Converting your cat's age to human years can be a good way to understand your cat's development. Of course, cats do not live as long as humans, in part because they are smaller animals. One year for a human does not correspond to the same amount in a cat's lifespan. Here's how to convert a cat's age to human years:
- Determine how many calendar years your cat has been alive. If you've had your cat since it was a kitten, this is easy to determine. If not, your vet can help you approximate its age. Start with its real age, and then calculate its age in "cat years" based on the following guidelines.
- Ignore the "7 years" rule. For a long time, veterinarians advised that one human year was equivalent to seven years for a cat. However, this is simply not true. Cats develop on a different time scale than humans; you cannot simply multiple their real age by seven to find their age in "cat years."
- Understand that your cat grows quickly at first. During the first year of life, some say that cats age the equivalent of 15 human years. By the end of their first year, most cats reach sexual maturity. In fact, many female kittens can have their first litter of kittens right around their own first birthday in human years. By the time your cat has been alive for one year, it has aged to be about 15 in human years.
- Cats continue to grow quickly after their first year. Your cat's growth does not stop after the first year. In fact, cats age about nine years for the second year, meaning that a two-year-old cat has aged approximately 24 human years. Some cat breeds, like the Maine Coon, age slower than the average cat; they take three to five years instead of two to reach maturity.
- Their age slows after 2 years. For most of their adult life, a cat will age 4 years for every human year. Though they age faster than humans, this rate is much slower than in their first two years of life.
- Understand the end of your cat's lifespan. Some cats can live to be up to 20 years old, though most will not live that long, especially if they spend most of their time outdoors.
- Understand how you can help slow the aging process. Like humans, some cats age better than others. This is directly related to their care; make sure that your cat receives plenty of exercise, a healthy diet, and vet care, including preventive care.
Understanding how your cat ages can be invaluable when trying to understand the health issues your cat faces. Your cat's rate of development is variable over its lifespan. While they mature quickly during the first few years, their adult years are spent with constant and steady changes as far as aging.