If your cat is a rescue, you’re bound to find yourself wondering: how old is my cat? And while age may be nothing more than a number, figuring out cat years to human years can help you better anticipate their needs and help your cat live their best life.

Because, for example, if you’ve just adopted…

  • A senior cat, they may be vulnerable to dementia. Which might make them likely to wander away from home, away from safety.
  • Or if you’ve adopted a younger cat, they might run off the minute they sniff out a female in heat.
  • Cats of different ages might be vulnerable to different health issues at different stages.

And if you don’t know how to convert cat years to human years, how are you going to figure out your cat’s age? Makes it a pretty big deal, if you ask us.

So in this post, we cover how to cover cat years to human years, simple tips to figure out how old your cat is, the signs of a senior cat, how long cats live, and how you can help your cat live a long, happy, healthy life by your side. Let’s get counting!

How to convert cat years to human years

You might’ve heard of the “rule” that states that one human year = 7 cat years. And yes, to an extent, cats do age more quickly than humans – but not proportionately.

  • Cats do mature quicker than humans in the beginning of their lives.
  • But once they reach adulthood, their aging slows down.

It’s difficult to draw a direct comparison between a cat’s age and its human equivalent. But the general consensus is that a cat ages the equivalent of 15 human years in the first year of their life.

A woman holding a black cat in her arms

By the end of their second year, a cat is thought to be the equivalent of 24 or 25 human years.

From 2 years on, experts believe cats age at a rate of approximately 4 human years per cat year

Cat years chart: Cat years to human years

Keeping track of your cat’s aging can be confusing. So we’ve created this handy chart to help you convert cat years to human years.

Because if you understand how old your cat is, you can better understand what life stage they’re at – and better predict their needs.

convert cat years to human years: cat years chart

⚠️ Most cats go into heat around 6 months of age – or when they’re around 10 years old in human years. Being in heat is also one of the primary reasons they go missing or run away from home.

Read more: Cat In Heat? What You Need To Know.

How to tell how old a cat is if you don’t know when they were born

Even if you can’t be sure when your cat was born, it’s still possible to determine their age with relative accuracy. Here are a couple of your cat’s features that can help you figure out how old they are:

  • Teeth
  • Coat
  • Muscle tone
  • Eyes

Using the tips below, you can work to identify your cat’s life stage and then make an educated guess as to exactly how old your cat is. 

How to tell a cat’s age by their teeth

A cat’s teeth can be telling when it comes to determining their age.1 Adult cats have 30 teeth, while kittens have 26 baby teeth (also known as deciduous teeth).

  • Kittens develop their first teeth between 2 and 4 weeks of age.
  • By 6 weeks of age, kittens should have all of their deciduous teeth.
  • Between 4 and 7 months of age, the deciduous teeth are replaced by adult teeth.

💡 Counting a cat’s teeth is a good place to start when trying to gauge their age. Once you determine whether the cat is a juvenile or an adult, you can use other characteristics to further narrow in on their age.

A vet checking a cat's teeth at a clinic

The color of a cat’s teeth and the amount of tartar present can also help indicate how old they are.

  • Cats between 1 and 2 years of age often have some yellowing on their teeth, but tartar buildup should still be minimal.
  • Beyond 3 years, you may see tartar buildup around the base of each tooth.
  • Dark stains on a cat’s teeth or missing teeth could indicate you’ve just adopted a senior cat (one over 11 years old).

This is not a perfect science though, since cats with excellent dental hygiene will not exhibit much tartar, regardless of age.

What a cat’s coat says about their age

As cats age, their coats often begin to show some gray. In cats with light-colored coats, this change may not be noticeable, but for cats with dark coats, you’ll begin to see some grey or white hairs where there weren’t any before.

A cat sitting outdoors in a lawn

It’s not uncommon for a cat’s fur to change texture as they get older. The fur may become thinner, less glossy, or more coarse. Sometimes these changes can be indicative of a health issue, such as kidney problems or malnutrition, so if you notice sudden changes, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian.

⚠️ Older cats may begin to neglect their frequent grooming routines, leaving their coat looking dirtier or duller than it otherwise would. And if they wander away from home, they may just come home with something infectious or messy stuck in their fur.

But if you follow your cat’s every step in real-time, you can intervene if you notice them wandering away from safety. For example, you could set up a “safe zone” around your backyard which sends you an escape alert the minute your cat’s stepped past it.

It’s why cat parents around the world – just like you – are investing in Tractive’s life-saving GPS tracking technology, which helps you find your cat no matter where you are. (Or where they are.)

Know everywhere your cat goes

See where they are in real-time, no matter how far they go. Get alerts if they roam too far home. Make sure they’re getting enough exercise and rest throughout the day. Set daily goals that fit your furball.

Track Your Runaway Cat

Cat’s eyes & the aging process

Clear, bright eyes are a sign of a young cat.

  • As cats age, they may develop cataracts or glaucoma, leading to discoloration or cloudiness of their eyes.
  • Senior cats often have more eye discharge than a kitten or adult cat.
  • Sometimes a cat’s irises will change shape too, beginning to look jagged around the edges rather than smooth.
brown old cat close up of face

⚠️ Senior cats are vulnerable to progressive vision and hearing loss as they age. Watch out for behaviors like excessive meowing or vocalizing around nighttime – or if your outdoor cat takes longer to return home from their adventures.

Muscle tone – another cat aging factor

Muscle tone is another indication of how old your cat is.

  • Kittens are typically quite lean and have not yet accumulated much muscle mass.
  • Healthy adult cats typically have good muscle tone. They shouldn’t have protruding bones, and their spine should be straight. 
  • Senior cats might have lost some muscle. Their shoulder blades or hip bones might protrude more than previously.

Often, senior cats aren’t as active as they once were (perhaps due to the aches and pains of aging) and thus they spend more time sleeping and less time exercising. Naturally, this leads to a loss in muscle definition.

Read more: How To Get A Cat To Exercise: Keeping Our Feline Friends Happy and Healthy

A cat sleeping on a desk

While some muscle loss is normal, excessive muscle loss could indicate a serious health issue.

  • Cats with poor nutrition or health problems like kidney disease could struggle to maintain body weight and muscle tone.
  • If you notice a sudden, significant decline in muscle mass in your aging cat, speak to your veterinarian.

💡Vets recommend tracking your pet’s daily activity as a way to catch on to a drop in their movements early on. (Which could indicate they’re sick, injured, or aging.)

Luckily, your trusty Tractive device comes equipped with a built-in motion detector. Tracking your cat’s movements throughout the day with its Activity Monitor.

An outdoor cat exploring a garden with Tractive's Activity monitoring features in the foreground

So you can catch on to a drop early and get them to a vet before their condition worsens.

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How do cats age?

As you can see in the chart above, cats undergo the biggest age-related changes in the first couple of years of their lives.

  • By the end of year one, cats are said to be comparable to a 15-year-old human. Within this period, a cat goes from a newborn kitten with closed eyes and no teeth to a young adult cat who has reached sexual maturity.

⚠️ Cats’ reproductive development begins as early as 5-10 months. Their mating instinct is one of the key reasons they might run off to find themselves the purr-fect mate.

  • By the end of year two, cats are said to age approximately 9 years – making them the equivalent of a 24-year-old human. Two-year-old cats have reached sexual maturity, and they have stopped growing. By this time they have accumulated muscle mass and are settling into their adult physique.
Two grey kittens sitting on a blanket
  • After two years, cats age more gradually, at a rate equivalent to about 4 human years for each cat year.

Once cats reach about 11 years old they are considered senior citizens. They are now the equivalent of a 60-year-old human. Senior cats continue to age at a rate of about 4 human years per cat year. Around now, your cat may begin to show signs of aging, such as a decline in physique, graying fur, a drop in activity, and changes in their eyes, teeth, and coat.

Signs of a senior cat 

Just like in humans, there are some tell-tale signs of senior status among cats. While senior cats are often still healthy and full of life, they may begin to slow down a little.

⚠️ As your cat transitions into senior status, it’s important to take note of any changes in their behavior. A drastic shift could indicate a serious health condition.

A grey cat sleeping in bed

For example, senior cats may exhibit:

  • Stiffness and decreased mobility
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Dull coat
  • Excessive eye discharge
  • Weight loss and loss of muscle tone
  • Frequent urination
  • Confusion or disorientation – which might turn up as difficulties finding their way back home, especially if they’re an outdoor cat

Beyond physical decline, senior cats may also exhibit dementia. Some common signs of feline dementia include frequent meowing, disorientation, and excessive sleeping.

💡Besides Activity Tracking, your Tractive device also comes equipped with a built-in Sleep Tracker. So you can check how much quality sleep your cat’s been getting – including how often they were disturbed.

Because one of the first signs your cat might be experiencing cognitive decline? A change in their sleep patterns.2

Which you can catch on to and take action early with a little help from Tractive.

A cat sleeping in the background with Tractive Sleep tracking in foreground

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Senior cats can still have many wonderful years ahead of them, so don’t be discouraged or distraught if your cat is starting to slow down. Simple lifestyle tweaks, such as specially formulated food, regular activity, and sleep tracking can help your senior cat make the most of their twilight years.

Read more: Why Do Cats Sleep So Much? Cat Sleeping Patterns, Explained!

How long can cats live? How long do cats live on average?

Cats have an average life expectancy of 16 to 18 years, though some cats may live even longer. In fact, according to the Cornell Feline Health Center, many cats live to be 20 or 21.3


Certain cat breeds are known to have notably long life expectancies while some are more susceptible to certain health issues than others.

  • For instance, both Siamese and Savannah cats are said to have a life span as long as 20 years.4
  • Meanwhile, Ragdoll and Persian cats are both susceptible to Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), which might lower their lifespan.5
A Siamese cat lying on a white table


According to the UC Davis Department of Veterinary Medicine, indoor cats are expected to live much longer than outdoor cats. This is largely because indoor cats face fewer hazards than cats who live outdoors.

Outdoor cats usually have a big territory to patrol, defend, and even hunt in. Which means they’re vulnerable to threats like predators, traffic, toxins, and diseases from other animals that indoor cats may never come into contact with.

brown old cat outside in tree

But if you’re tracking their every move, you can…

Read more: 5 Reasons To Get Your Cat A GPS Cat Tracker

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Of course, nothing is ever guaranteed. Even indoor cats that are extremely well cared for may fall ill unexpectedly. But on the other hand, breeds that are highly prone to certain health afflictions may never be affected by them.

As frustrating as it may be, there’s just no way of knowing how long your cat will live. However, small steps – like feeding your cat a balanced diet, keeping them active, and staying on top of their outdoor adventures – can help keep them safe and healthy well into old age.

How to make your cat live longer? 

Naturally, we all want our pets to live forever. While we can’t promise this, there are simple things you can do to help ensure your cat lives a long and fruitful life.

Just as with humans, diet and exercise are a big part of your cat’s longevity. They are also two of the few aspects you have control over. 


Feeding your cat a high-quality, balanced diet will help them stay healthy and happy throughout each stage of their life. It can be tempting to feed your cat your table scraps or a bite of a New Year’s treat – but you want to ensure you aren’t feeding them something potentially toxic or even fatal.

A cat sniffing a wooden board covered with bread

Read more:

Keep in mind that as cats age, their dietary needs change. So speak to your vet about how to provide the best nutrition for your cat in their current life stage.


Regular physical activity is also essential for good feline health. Which is actually one of the reasons we recommend you let your cat outdoors. Besides the exercise, they’ll love the sensory stimulation from being surrounded by nature. Plus, you’ll keep their inner hunting instincts happy – all in one go!

But like we’ve covered – the outdoors come with their risks for cats of all ages and habits. Which is where a Tractive GPS Cat Tracker can be a lifesaver.

Your cat tracker both shows you where your cat is at all times, plus how much physical activity they get. Which can help you notice any changes in your cat’s habits, quickly address abnormal behavior, and make any necessary lifestyle tweaks.

woman and cat outside

Location monitoring

Preventing your cat from going missing can help you keep them safe – especially since cats of all ages may run away from home for all sorts of reasons. So get informed on your cat’s escape artist tendencies – and what to do if you find yours missing.

Read more:

Here’s where the peace of mind you get from a dedicated cat GPS tracker can be the solution. Like this story from one of our happy cat parents and her cat, Peggy.

white and brown cat sitting on wicker chair

“Peggy is our adopted disabled (three-legged) cat. Sadly she also has dementia now and often goes missing in the garden or house.

Peggy sleeps in the strangest places to the point where we can’t find her and I worry about her being outdoors, with her problems.

Tractive gives her the freedom she loves and us peace of mind knowing where she is at all times. It’s one of the best things I have bought.

If Peggy ever gets out, I know I’ll get an alert on my phone thanks to the Virtual Fence.

Owning a disabled cat is worrying, but it’s so good to know that she has something that puts my mind at rest knowing she is safe.”

– Vanesa

Keep your cat safe no matter their age – and live a long, happy life together

With these tips, you’ll be able to determine your cat’s age and provide them with everything they need to thrive during any stage of their life. Remember to:

  • Check your cat’s teeth, coat, and muscle tone to determine how old they might be.
  • Get your cat screened at the vet for any health issues (especially if they’re a senior cat)
  • Ensure you’re feeding your cat a high-quality diet of foods built for their system
  • Get your cat enough exercise – and track their activity to prevent any health issues down the line

Finally, track your cat’s movements to prevent them from wandering off somewhere dangerous. Outdoor time helps your cat benefit from the exercise and sunlight – but the fear and panic of finding them missing is never worth it. Especially with all the dangers your cat might run into.

Cattery owner and trainer, Clair Chesterman

“Tractive is my #1 recommendation when it comes to cat trackers. It’s specifically designed for tracking cats so you are sure that it is safe for your cats to use.”

– Clair Chesterman, Owner of CFA and CCA-registered cattery and fostering company, FluffyMeowPaws

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Here’s a video that covers the cat life cycle to help you calculate how old your cat is in human years:

And if you’ve liked this post, share it with a cat-loving friend or loved one – and let’s help build a safer, kinder world for our furry friends togeter.