Understanding the Ages & Stages of Cats.
The idea that cats and dog’s age at a rate equivalent to seven human years for each one that passes is one of the pet-related urban legends that endures to this day (and continues to drive me crazy). This is one of the many misconceptions about companion animals.
To tell you the truth, I’ve never really understood the appeal of this concept. We have all encountered (or at the very least been aware of) cats who have survived to be 20 years old. In point of fact, at one point in time, I had more than 30 cats who were 20 years old in my veterinary clinic.
According to the law that states that 1 = 7, a cat that is 20 years old would be the same age as a human who is 140 years old, which is obviously not the case. Let’s talk about having children right now.
Both cats and dogs are able to conceive and give birth to their first litter at just six months of age. According to the rule that “1 equals 7,” a cat that is 6 months old is the same as a person who is 3 and a half years old.
At this age, is it possible for individuals to have children? Of course not! The simple fact that cats mature more quickly while they are younger and more slowly as they become older explains why the rule that states that 1 = 7 does not work.
How many human years are equivalent to one cat’s age
The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) worked together a number of years ago to produce a chart that compares ages and takes this into consideration.
According to this chart, a cat that is one year old is the same age as a human who is 15 years old, and a cat that is two years old is the same age as a person who is 24 years old.
After that, you add four years to your own age for every year that a cat has lived. This is a more rational method, and based on my previous experiences, it seems to be quite accurate. Please take into account that dogs are not covered by this chart.
Depending on the canine’s size, various sizes correspond to different age ranges (big dogs have shorter life spans than small dogs, for example). The chart is applicable to all cats since their sizes are all somewhat comparable to one another.
How many different phases do cats go through in their lives?
The several phases of a cat’s life are an additional issue that relates to its age and its lifespan. On this topic, there are many different points of view, but nobody can agree on anything. The differences may be attributed mostly to semantics and to whether or not you have a tendency to be a “lumper” or a “splitter.”
Lumpers want to combine many phases into one bigger category, while splitters prefer to partition the stages into several smaller categories. The initial stage of development, known as the kitten, is the only aspect of any of these stories that is consistent.
The most recent version of the age comparison chart that was just discussed also includes a description of the phases of a cat’s life, which are divided into six separate stages:
- Kitten: 0 to 6 months
- Junior: from seven months to two years old
- Prime: three to six years old
- 7–10 years of age at maturity.
- Juniors: ages 7 to 10 years old
- Geriatric refers to those aged 15 and above.
Splitters were presumably pleased with this six-stage version, but as a veterinarian who specializes in cats, I had conflicting thoughts about it. It was never clear to me just where the boundary between “adult” and “senior” should be drawn. On the basis of these age ranges, it appeared reasonable to classify older cats as “mature,” “senior,” or “geriatric.”
On the other hand, the classification of younger adult cats as either “junior” or “prime” seemed artificial to me.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAFP/AAHA) outlined, in a study that was just revised in 2021, the four fundamental age-related phases of a cat’s life:
The first year of a kitten’s life.
Young adult: between the ages of 1 and 6
7–10 years old is the age of a mature adult.
Senior: A person who is at least 10 years old
If you like to take things in large chunks, you will probably enjoy this simplified version. However, I believe that the senior stage should be further subdivided, which would result in a five-stage classification that, in my opinion, covers all of the bases: I am satisfied with the first three categories and the age ranges that correspond to them; however, I feel that the senior stage should be further divided as follows:
- The first year of a kitten’s life.
- Young adult: between the ages of 1 and 6
- 7–10 years old is the age of a mature adult.
- Junior: ages 6 to 10 years old
- Geriatric refers to those aged 16 and above.
The phrase “super senior” was substituted for “geriatric” in some of the variants that I’ve seen, and those variants were similar to the ones detailed above. I have a sneaking suspicion that there are some individuals who believe the term “geriatric” has bad connotations or that it is overly clinical.
As a veterinarian, I prefer the word geriatric, but I can see why cat owners may prefer the phrase super senior. The term super senior evokes feelings of amazement and wonder, and it also gives the impression that the cat is a superhero, which is a pretty great idea.
The primary goal that veterinarians have in mind when they split a cat’s life into phases is to assist us in developing health and wellness strategies that are suitable for the specific period of life being discussed.
The sicknesses and alterations in behavior that we could experience, in addition to the diagnostic tests that are suggested, will vary according to the stage we are now in.
It is entirely up to you as a cat parent to decide if you want the four-stage categorization (kitten, young adult, mature adult, senior) or the five-stage version (kitten, young adult, mature adult, senior, geriatric) or the six-stage model (kitten, junior, prime, mature, senior, geriatric).
As a veterinarian for cats who believes that all cats pass away far too soon, I find it encouraging that there are increasingly more life stage charts that recognize the existence of a geriatric or super senior stage.
his tells us that cats are living longer than they ever have before, which is something that everyone can agree is very good news.