Paws and Effect

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

How do you determine how old your cat is in human years? My cat is 4 and I was told that she is approximately 32 years old. Is that correct?

~ Sharon

JaneA and Siouxsie

Mama and Siouxsie share a moment. Siouxsie is 17 years and 7 months old, which makes her the equivalent of an 86-year-old person!

Siouxsie: Well, actually, that’s pretty accurate.

Thomas: A lot of people think cats age seven human years for every cat year, probably because we were told at one time that this is true for dogs — and of course, cats must be just like dogs, right?

Bella: Perish the thought!

Siouxsie: No, cats are not small dogs — and dogs don’t age according to that simplistic formula, either.

Thomas: As with humans, the rate at which cats age is determined largely by genetics and lifestyle. For example, feral cats age much more rapidly than well cared-for indoor kitties like us. A 10-year-old feral kitty could be as geriatric as a 17-year-old house cat because feral cats have a much harder life overall than beloved pet cats.

Bella: Poor feral kitties! Can’t we just take them all inside and let them have comfortable lives? *sniffle*

Siouxsie: It’s not that simple, Bella. Feral cats are afraid of people and don’t want to be near them …

Bella: *gasp* Really? Oh my gosh!

Thomas: It’s true, Bella. Feral cats are born and raised without knowing the love of humans. The best thing humans can do to help them is to trap, neuter and vaccinate them, and then return them to the colony they came from. And of course, people can always help the feral kitties stay healthy by providing food, water and shelter for those cold days.

Bella: Wow. I’m glad I’m not a feral cat! I love being an indoor kitty. Plus, I probably wouldn’t have lived very long because of my diabetes.

Siouxsie: That’s true, Bella. Now, let’s get back to the topic of cat ages. The cat age calculator chart in this Catster article provides a good idea of the rate at which cats age as they go through the various stages of life.

Thomas: But the chart stops before Siouxsie’s age …

Bella: Nyeah!

Thomas: Bella, be nice and respect your elders!

Bella: *pout*

Thomas: Anyhow, as I was saying, if you want a more accurate calculation of an indoor cat’s human age equivalent, or if your cat is older than 14, check out this handy cat age calculator.

Siouxsie: According to this calculator, at age 17 years and 7 months, I’m the equivalent of an 86-year-old human. I guess I’ve got a right to be a little crotchety and set in my ways!

Thomas: But Siouxsie, you’re aging very well. Didn’t our last two vets tell Mama they wouldn’t have believed you’re over 10 if Mama hadn’t said she knew it’s true because you adopted her in 1996?

Siouxsie: I suppose you’re right, Thomas. Although I have to confess, I have been feeling my age a bit these days. But Mama’s been taking good care of me.

Bella: You know I love you, right, Siouxsie? I mean, it’s awesome to have a kitty grandma that looks almost exactly like me! And I hope I’m as wise as you someday.

Siouxsie: Don’t try to butter me up, young lady. Just keep your paws to yourself and stop chasing me around, and maybe I’ll let you sleep next to me someday.

Bella: Really? Can I snuggle with you after supper today?

Siouxsie: Don’t push your luck.

Thomas: Anyhow, Sharon, both the cat age chart and the calculator put your 4-year-old cat’s age at the equivalent of 32 human years, so your friend is correct. We hope you have many happy years with your delightful feline housemate.

Bella: And if you happen to be the guardian of a senior cat, you should totally check out Mama’s article on eight ways to make your senior cat’s golden years comfortable. She won a Muse Medallion from the Cat Writers’ Association because of that article (and she won another Muse Medallion for Paws and Effect, too)! *purrrrrrrrrrrr*

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