Woman Playing with Mature Cat

How Old Is My Cat: Knowing the Stages

Maggie Marton | May 21, 2018

How old is your cat really?

We all want our cats to thrive, living long and healthy lives!

We know it takes good food, vet visits, and lots of love, of course. But another piece of helping your cat thrive is knowing and understanding what stage of life they’re in. 

There are two common myths about how cats age and we want to set the record straight! The first is that cats age seven years for every one that people age. Some long-term studies have shown there’s much more fluctuation than that and that they age much faster in their early years than previously thought! 

Another myth is that cats experience three main stages in life: kitten, adult, senior. Turns out, cats age much differently than previously thought--and they experience six separate life stages! 

So, what are those stages, and where does your bundle of furry joy fit in?

Kitten and Junior

Let’s start with kittens. Instead of a single kitten phase that leads cats into adulthood, stages for the youngest cats are now broken into two phases: “kitten” for the 0 to six-month-old and “junior” for those six months to two years. At that point, a two-year-old cat is equivalent to a 24-year-old human. That means, those first two years of a cat’s life are full of rapid developments and super-quick growth! 

After two years of age, the rate slows a bit, which helps explain why cats can live relatively long lives -- into their late teens and even 20s for indoor cats. 


A cat hits her prime between three and six years, and during those three years, she ages from about 28 to 40 in human years. This stage is actually called “prime,” and it’s an important time to keep your cat active and healthy with regular exercise and healthy food. Just like in people aged 28 to 40 who find they have to hit the gym more or cut down on late-night pizza runs, a focus on health and wellness during this stage for your cat helps her ease into her next stages of life. 


Once a cat turns seven, she’s officially a “mature” cat -- in title only, perhaps, because cats in this range can still have gobs of energy. Between ages seven and 10, your cat will age from about 44 to 56 in human years. 


After 10 and until she’s around around 14, your cat is considered a senior. During this stage it’s even more important to keep an eye on your cat’s health: noticing changes in habits, feeding patterns and behavior can help head off any major health issues early on. Your sweet feline may be slowing down a little during this stage (she is almost 70 in human years after all!) but a healthy diet and exercise can help avoid illness and pain. 


And for the last stage, once your cat tops age 14, she is considered geriatric. A healthy cat may still be quite active at this stage and for many years to come. But as her parent, it’s your responsibility to notice any changes that may signal a health issue, to focus on providing warmth and comfort as her body ages, and to help her age gracefully. Just to put it in perspective, a cat who lives to see her twenty-first year is the equivalent of a 100-year-old person! 

Of course, each life stage requires healthy food and age-appropriate exercise to keep your cat looking and feeling her best into that geriatric stage. Data suggests that the average American indoor cat lives to around 14 cat years or 72 people years, while the average American indoor/outdoor cat lives to around 7 years old or 44 people years. 


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