Have you ever had to figure out a cat’s age just by looking at it? Perhaps you adopt an adult cat from the local shelter. Or a stray cat turns up on your front porch. Maybe a friend finds a kitten and comes to you since you are the local “cat expert”. Either way, you have have to figure out the newcomer’s age. Aging an adult cat is not an exact science, even among veterinarians, but there are a few physical clues that will help you approximate the cat’s age.
Just like human kids, kittens lose their baby teeth and develop adult teeth at a predetermined point in life.
- By the time the kitten is 6 months of age, all the baby teeth will have been replaced with adult teeth.
- By 2 years of age, the molars typically will have some mild tartar.
- By 5 years, the tartar is more pronounced on the molars and affects the canines as well.
- By middle to old age, the incisors begin to wear down.
- By old age, it is not unusual for a cat to lose some back teeth.
- By age 12, some incisors are often missing.
In older cats, the lens of the eye begins to develop signs of aging. Thin lines begin to show up on the lens of the eye at around age 6. The lines do not affect vision and are not the same as cataracts, though they can be confused with cataracts.
The graying process on the face varies from cat to cat. As with people, premature graying can occur. For this reason, this is not a reliable method of aging your cat.
Aging an adult cat is difficult. The best you can do is an approximation, which may be off by 2 to 4 years. Thankfully, the age of your cat does not affect its ability to be a loving companion and friend.