We all love our cats and many of us may have started with kittens and have watched our "children" grow. It's amazing how fast cats grow, especially in the first few years. I have always wondered how cats age and how this affects them as they get older. One of Catify’s own resident cats, Precious, recently turned 11, and we wanted to understand a cat's health and share it with the community.
Understanding how cats age and how it affects our precious feline companions gives insight to us as owners to better care for them. It could be as simple as changing their diet or feeding them food that’s higher in water content. All cats eventually grow old and see the effects, but with proper care and understanding cat’s can live a lot longer then you think.
The oldest cat ever was called Creme Puff and lived to be 38 years of age. Incredible! Check the cat out here.
How do cats age?
Unlike humans, cats age at a far more rapid pace, the average lifespan is around 13 - 17 years. Of course with proper care they can live up to 20 years of age and maybe even more! There's a difference between outdoor and indoor cats as outdoor cats have a shorter lifespan due to their diet and environment.
One of the common misconceptions of age is that each human year represents seven cat years. Although that is the average, cats age very rapidly the first few years and then slow down considerably afterwards. That’s why you have a baby kitten fitting into your hands to cats that are the size of young kid within a year (maybe larger if you own a maine coon).
For the first two years of a cat's life it represents transition from being a baby to an adult. Essentially at the end of the send year the cat’s age is comparable to that of a 24 year old human. From that point onwards the aging process slows down to one human year equaling four cat years.
What is considered old for a cat?
After the 10 year mark that is when cats are considered "old". According to the image above the cats would be considered 56 years old, which in human years is pretty close to a senior citizen status.
However, time is not the only tell when it comes to whether your cat is aging or not. As we all know animals would age different, even the human aging process can differ vastly from person to person. Other signs include the mood of cats, their sleeping habits, how active they are and more.
What common issues occur when cats get older?
Physically older cats won't be doing the same thing they did before. They may still show off their high jumping capabilities time to time. But, you won't be seeing them as active or exerting the same amount of energy chasing their favorite toy.
For example I had an older cat that use to love jumping up and down a multi-level cat tree. However, as she grew older you can see that she would take her time going up each level. This usually means the cats are experiencing discomfort from arthritis which is a major problem in cats.
Find out more about age from some experts in a conversation here.
Other physical signs include cats not showing the same affection, sleeping a lot more, and avoiding human contact. Precious, which is our resident cat at Catify.co, use to love being the center of attention at parties. As she grew older she stoped being social and enjoyed crawling into her cozy bed to nap.
Mentally you might see your cat confused or act differently. They might forget where their litter is or have trouble going through the house. As cats get older it's best to have them checked at least twice a year. I would say three times just to be safe, but I'm around a great vet that's close and cheap.
Even with these physical and mental changes there's some things the cat owners can do. Age affects our cat but you can prevent the onset of these symptoms and extend the life expectancy by changing some things.
How are life expectancy changed through diet, exercise and more?
Water is incredibly important for not only our bodies but also cats. We have a large water pot that is always filled and notifies us when it is low. This is great since we know there will always be water available for both our cats. Plus it's a time saver as we're refilling once a week instead of every other day.
Changing their food from a dry diet to a semi-moist or canned is also beneficial. The American Associated of Feline Practitioners recommends wet food as there's more nutrients and acts as an additional source of water.
In addition to feeling your cats wet food you can also grow fresh plants for them. Cat Grass, which refers to wheat, oat and barley dresses, are easy to maintain and great for your cats. They are naturally drawn to this type of grass and this helps digestion and providing nutrients you don't usually see in cat food.
What are some things to look out for during this time?
The main thing is to be mindful and aware of your cats age and whether it could be affecting them. Sometimes it could be as simple as getting a softer bed or heated blankets. It could also be modifying with their favorite spots so it's easily accessible.
If you see your cat acting weird on multiple occasions or not eating it's a red flag. I would keep tabs on them consistently and of course reach out to a veterinarian for specific healthcare instructions on your cat.
We love cats and hope you're cat lives a long long life. Check out our Catify.co blog for more awesome content and our store if you're looking to get some gifts for cat lovers (or yourself). Keep being PAWESOME!