Marking time is easy to do with humans. Our young children go through milestones and we have learned how to approximate an age by looking at a person. However, aging your cat may not be as easy to do.
Unless you are told the exact birth date of your kitty, the years often slip by and become difficult to count. Our kitties don’t have school to mark the years of their young and before you know it, your tiny kitten is three years old!
Here are some of the practical ways of checking the age of your cat.
Your cat’s teeth are great indicators of age. Kittens get their first set of teeth at around two to four weeks; these are very small and not strong and will soon fall out. Those baby teeth will soon be replaced by your cat’s permanent teeth at approximately three to four months of age.
Once the adult teeth come in, it takes several months to fully grow out and for every tooth to come in; this time is also excellent for marking age. After kitty’s teeth are fully set, they start to accumulate staining and wear from daily use. The amount of damage to your cat’s teeth can tell your veterinarian a good estimate of how long those teeth have been used for.
Another indicator of your cat’s age is their nail growth. Kittens have small, weak nails that are more pointed then blunt at the end. As your cat ages, the nail bed continues to grow and the outside sheath starts to fall off. The older your cat gets, the more of an outside sheath there is.
This makes your cat’s nails thicker, harder and much more durable. The nails of an elderly cat will be shorter, thicker and wide; even when untrimmed the older cat’s nails will not be as sharp as a young cats.
Hair growth is another thing your veterinarian may look at to tell the age of your cat; a cat’s skeleton stops growing around one year of age. During the first year, your cat’s skin needs to be loose as the body will grow faster in the first year than any other time in the rest of their life.
Looser skin makes for thinner fur which is brand new, shiny, and soft! As kitty’s body stops growing, the hair pattern thickens and becomes coarser. The coat will not shine as much or feel as soft to the touch. As your cat ages, the fur will most likely get darker in shade before growing patches of grey or white as humans do; you may find a stray hair or entire patches.
Another common thing for older cats is to start getting oily skin which makes for oily fur. When you pet a cat and come away with a greasy hand, it is a great indicator of older age (unless your kitty has a skin condition of course.)
Until our kitties can tell us things for themselves we have to guess and make our best deductions and observations about them. Aging is something we may have an idea about but your kitty is an individual and will age at a different rate and time than any other cat out there.
Just as time affects and changes us, it is also affecting your kitty. What have been your experiences with guessing your cats age? Is it easy, difficult, in between? Let us know your story by commenting in the section below!