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How Old is My Cat? Here’s How to Determine (With Pictures)

Adopting a rescue cat is one of the best feelings in the world. You get to give a cuddly feline a good home and all the love, food, and nap time that they want.

There is always going to be a bit of a mystery around a rescue animal than if you adopt a kitten from a breeder. You don’t know what they have previously experienced, like if they have been abused or had a previous home at all. You also don’t know their exact age.

If you want to figure out your cat’s age, there are plenty of ways to do so. An examination from a veterinarian is an excellent way to determine their approximate age. You can also try to do this at home. A few essential body parts and behaviors can help give away a cat’s age within a few years.cat face divider 2

How Old Is My Kitten?

Kittens’ age determining methods are slightly different than their adult counterparts. A breeder should always know how old their kittens are, but what if you find kittens separated from their mother?

seal point ragdoll kittens on blue background
Image Credit: Linn Currie, Shutterstock
Cats have highly indicative developmental signs when they are young. With some of them, you can even tell their age down to the day
  • 1 day: Kittens’ ears are still folded with closed eyes. They won’t be able to stand on their own.
  • 3 days: Their ears begin to unfold but they are still unable to stand.
  • 6 days: Kittens’ eyes slowly begin to open. The ears should be open at this point, but they are still unable to hear anything. At a week, they start to crawl slowly.
  • 10 to 15 days: Their eyes are completely open. Their pupils cannot dilate yet.
  • 2 weeks: Kittens begin walking unsteadily.
  • 3 weeks: The ear canals begin opening so the kittens can start responding to sound. They have practiced walking and are better at it. Their baby teeth start to emerge. They can also begin to train using the litter box at this age.
  • 4 to 5 weeks: Kittens start to play with each other and self-grooming.
  • 6 weeks: When kittens are born, their eyes are generally blue. At this age, they will change from blue to their permanent color.
  • 8 weeks: Kittens will look like mini versions of cats, weighing about 2 pounds, depending on their breed. They are big enough to be neutered, but many veterinarians suggest waiting until between 4 to 6 months old.

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How Old Is My Adult Cat? 6 Ways to Determine Your Cat’s Age

Once a kitten hits 8 weeks or 2 months old, it becomes more challenging to determine their age down to the day or week. However, there are still ways that you or your vet can determine your cat’s age.

Cat Teeth

veterinarian checks teeth of the maine coon cat
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

One of the best ways to determine your cat’s age is by checking their teeth. Their baby teeth emerge between 2 to 4 weeks, and their permanent teeth begin to develop above the baby teeth when the cat is between 3 to 4 months old. By 6 months old, they should all be adult teeth, and tooth growth is no longer useful to determine their age.

For older cats, the condition of their teeth is more telling than the growth. The amount of staining or the buildup of tartar can indicate their age. However, that is only true if they didn’t get their teeth cleaned regularly at their last home.

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Fur

British Shorthair pedigreed kitten with blue gray fur_PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek_shutterstock
Image Credit: Michal-Bednarek, Shutterstock

A cat’s coat can be another handy way to determine their age, mainly when drawing the line between a kitten or a mature cat.

Kitten’s fur is fine and soft. As they age, the coat gets thicker and coarser. The markings and coloration also change, developing into what the adult cat will ultimately look like.

If the cat is a senior, look for patches of gray or white. These will start changing as individual hairs, often when the cat is around 10 old. Some cats do gray earlier, though, just like us humans, so this method isn’t foolproof either.

Grooming behaviors can also be indicative of their age. As a cat grows older, they might grow slack with their grooming. They could gain weight as they age, suffer from dental issues, or have arthritis in essential joints that make movement painful.

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Muscle Tone

calico maine coon kitten walking
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Check out your cat’s physical build to get a clue about their age. Young cats that have developed beyond 6 months old will have lithe bodies. They are active and will have more muscle tone on their bodies.

Once a cat ages to about 8 years old, they begin to get much slower and less active. They might have saggier skin or be bony on their back end and around their shoulder blades, since less muscle offers less padding.

It is also useful to keep in mind that cats that have lived outdoors typically age twice as fast as cats that live inside. The aging rate typically kicks in with full force at about 3 years old.

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Sexual Maturity

cat playing with mate
Photo credit: rihaij, Pixabay

Sexual maturity is one of those signs that can’t be easily confused. Just like signs of puberty tend to happen with greater predictability in humans, cats reach certain stages at certain ages.

Male felines reach their sexual maturity at about 5 months old. These signs include territorial spraying with more prominent testicles. This stage is also the time that it is best to get them neutered.

Female cats have their first estrus cycle, or heat, between 5 and 12 months old if they have not been spayed. You will know this is happening because they will tell you both vocally and visibly. They can be impregnated at this time.

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Eyes

close up of cat whiskers
Image Credit: Annette Meyer, Pixabay

A cat’s eyes can be the windows to their age. As a senior, their eyes will begin to get foggy, and they might have problems seeing. As they get past 10 years old, you might start to see discharge or tearing around their eyes that you need to clear away.

A kitten’s eyes indicate their age too, changing from blue to their permanent color at 6 weeks old.

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Moodiness

cat playing
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

Another way to tell if you have a young, middle-aged, or senior cat on your hands is from their mood. Younger cats tend to be much more adaptable, friendly, and playful. These characteristics might start to change between 1 and 2 years old as they begin to settle down and sleep more.

As your cat moves into their senior years, typically around 10 or older, they will start to sleep for the vast majority of the day. They are likely to suffer from a decrease in hearing or vision or suffer from other body pains.

These aged conditions often affect your cat’s mood. They may begin to display signs of aggression or indifference. Remember that these could also be telltale signs of illness, so consider taking them to the vet if the change happens suddenly.

If you want a more accurate estimation of your cat’s age, take them to the veterinarian. Doctors who commonly work with felines will be able to tell roughly how old a cat is by giving them a physical examination.

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Featured image credit: Witsawat.s, Shutterstock