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Published: Nov 06, 2012

Most of the time, animal shelter workers can accurately guess a cat's age if she was brought to the shelter with no information. Veterinarians can usually estimate a stray or adopted cat's age based on several physical factors. Using these tips, you may be able to determine the age of a feline you have taken into your home.

Cat's lifespan
Before you examine your cat to figure out her age, it's important to have a basic understanding of a cat's lifespan. According to, many people incorrectly assume that cats age seven years for every one human year. In fact, felines age much faster than that in their first two years of life - they reach the approximate age of 15 during their first year, then by age 2, they are approximately 24 in human years. Each year after that, your cat will age about four years to every human calendar year. VCA Animal Hospitals reports that cats usually live 12 to 14 years, but can live much longer if you take steps to prevent pet health concerns such as parasites, dental issues and obesity in cats.

How you can determine age
You can generally tell a cat's age by her teeth, muscle tone, coat and eyes.

•   Teeth. Assuming the previous owner was negligent about teeth cleaning for cats, or the cat never had an owner to brush her teeth, older cats usually have more staining than younger felines. A cat who has a set of permanent, white teeth is about a year old, according to Some yellowing would indicate an age between 1 and 2, tartar build up points to an age closer to 5, and missing teeth can be proof of a senior cat.

•   Muscle. Older cats may be bony with protruding shoulder blades and hanging skin, while younger cats have muscle definition because they tend to be more active.

•   Coat. A younger cat typically has a soft, fine coat, but with age, a feline's fur can become thicker, coarser and have patches of gray or white.

•   Eyes. A healthy, young cat will have bright, clear eyes with no tearing or discharge. Cats over the age of 12 can have some cloudiness in their eyes, and their irises may appear jagged instead of smooth like a younger feline.

A cat's physical characteristics can be affected if she has led a hard outdoor life or if she has a medical condition. Your veterinarian will be able to give your cat a full exam and determine her age as well as diagnose any health problems that may need to be treated to give her the best life possible.