Contrary to the popular belief, cats do not age at a rate of 7 years for each year in cat years.
Feline development through puberty and young adulthood is accomplished over a period of 18 to 24 months compared to 21 years in humans. So the cat’s first year is like 16 human years and the second cat year is equivalent to 6 human years. Each year thereafter you may add 4 years per calendar year.
You can use the chart below to calculate the cat’s age.
Table 1: Age Comparison Between Cats and Humans.
Typically indoor cats live 12 to 18 years with many surviving into their 20s and a few have exceeded 30 years.
b. When does a cat become a senior or an older cat?
It is not easy to define accurately when a cat becomes a senior. Several inter-related factors such as size, individual genetics, nutrition and lifestyle affect the aging process. Further an animal’s chronologic age may not reflect the animal’s physiologic age. For example, an 8-year old cat with kidney disease and poor nutrition is likely to be physiologically older than a healthy 11-year-old cat. However, it is generally accepted that the senior life stage begins around 7 or 8 years of age for cats. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) define three groups for aging cats: (1) Mature (7-10 years); (2) Senior (11-14 years); and, Geriatric (15+ years).
More than 40% of cats are over 7 years of age and more than 10% are over 12 years of age. They are 2.25 times as many senior cats than kittens. Improving the standard of care provided to the older cat will benefit the animals, their guardians and the veterinarians.