It’s never easy to attribute age to a cat with certainty. Sometimes even the vet is in trouble: the cats, especially if in good health, are able to hide very well their age.
Over the years, cats maintain a brilliant coat, a proverbial agility, the desire to play, the hunter’s instinct. Thus, animals 14 or 15 years old can show even seven years less!
A domestic cat lives on average 15 years, but cases of much longer lasting cats are not uncommon.
As is often the case with dog owners, it is also fun for cat owners to find a match between their age and that of their kitten. It can be a nice pastime, but it is not easy to relate the phases of the life of the cat with the phases of the life of a man.
In order to find out how many human years our cat’s years correspond to, it is very common to multiply by seven the age of our animal: this operation, however, does not give convincing results.
The cat grows very quickly: to 1 month of life of the cat corresponds the 5-6 months of life of an infant; to 3 months, the 2-3 years of age of a child; to 1 year, the 18 years of age of a boy of age. At this age (1 year), the cat matures sexually.
Around the age of 3, at the height of its maturity, the cat will be in its thirties. From 5 to 8 years old it will enter the “door”. Around the age of 9-10, the cat will enter the third age (55-60 human years), but for no reason should be considered close to death.
The relative age slows down for animals over 10 years old: at 15 years old the cat will be the age of a man of 75, and around 18 years old it can be compared to an elderly eighty years old. But there are very long-lived cats that can live without problems even beyond the age of 20!
The life expectancy of a cat is linked to many factors such as the breed, the diet, the climate, the environment in which it lives.
To find out how old our cat is, we can consult the tables showing the correspondence between the age of the cat and that of the man. We will notice, observing more tables, that the values of reference do not follow a systematic rule for the calculation of the age.
Therefore, the only person able to give us an exhaustive answer on the effective age of our cat will be the vet, to whom it will be sufficient to observe the animal’s teeth.
Puppies of cats, without a doubt, have a different nutritional requirement from that of adult cats: a healthy and balanced diet allows them to grow properly.
Newborn kittens weigh 100 grams on average and are only fed breast milk for 6-7 weeks. Meals are frequent (from 2 to 6 hours interval, depending on how many weeks of life the kittens have), but not too abundant: the amount of milk that a kitten of cat must take increases with increasing its weight. At around 2 weeks (weight between 100 and 150 g) he will have to take 30-40 g of milk; at 5 weeks, 80-90 g of milk.
Moreover, the growth rate of kittens is very fast, if you consider that their weight increases from 5 to 10% every day: the speed is due, in particular, to the nutritional richness of mother cat’s milk.
If your kitten cannot be breastfed with breastmilk, you will need to use artificial milk using kitten-specific powdered milk that you can easily find in a pharmacy or pet store. The doses that cover your kitten’s nutritional needs vary over the course of the weeks: from 13 ml per 100 g weight in the first week progressively increasing to over 20 ml in the fourth week.
Around 6 weeks for kittens, weaning begins: it is the moment when the kitten changes from a diet exclusively based on milk to a solid diet.
However, any change in diet must be gradual and well-distributed over a period of a few weeks: we can, in fact, introduce the new food when the kittens are still taking their mother’s milk. By supplementing the feeding with easily digestible foods, we can ensure that your kitten has a ration that is appropriate to her nutritional needs.
The foods must be well chopped, softened, easy to chew, so that the kitten will learn to appreciate the new diet of smoothie meat, homogenized chicken and veal, cereals, well cooked and chopped fish, and specific foods for puppies cat. It is up to us to decide whether to opt for home-made food or packaged food, but it is essential to choose the right diet to grow a healthy kitten!
After weaning, the kitten needs a diet rich in calcium and phosphorus, proteins, vitamins, minerals to promote proper development of bones, teeth, muscles. Taurine also prevents deficiency and promotes the growth of a smooth and shiny hair.
The packaged foods are formulated according to the needs of the kittens: they guarantee them a diet with a high calorie content and a high protein value, since their nutritional needs are quite high. Kittens, in fact, spend their time playing, jumping, climbing: their physical activity is very intense and it is counted that their caloric requirement amounts to 150 Kcal for every kg of live weight. After the year, it stabilizes at around 70-90 Kcal per kg.
Young and Adults
Kittens grow very quickly: puberty is reached between 7 and 12 months for both males and females. By the end of the year they reach sexual maturity, while the physical maturity will be completed after a few months: from kittens to young cats the step is short.
The physical differences between male and female begin to be seen soon: the young male will be bigger and stronger than the female, more slender and of lower weight.
Also at the level of behaviour, the differences will be evident: the male cat is more territorial, begins to mark doors, windows, the borders of the garden, spends a lot of time outside the house hunting or taking long walks, does not easily accept the presence of other cats, especially if of the same sex.
The female, on the contrary, is more suitable for the house life: it has less needs of space, does not tend to get too far away, accepts the presence of other cats and is less aggressive.
One thing that, however, unites all young cats, regardless of the sex, is the desire to play and discover the environment that surrounds them: they are very active and the game, useful for stimulating their instinct as predators, will accompany them throughout their lives. Therefore, to meet their playing needs and make them happy, we will have to leave at their disposal balls, plastic mice, scratches, cat trees, etc..
To take care of your cat’s health, you must follow the specific instructions for the age of the animal. For example, the nutrition of young and adult cats will require a higher calorie intake than that of older cats or kittens: a healthy and balanced diet, rich in all the nutrients that the cats need, will allow them to grow and keep healthy.
Daily hygiene should not be overlooked: getting these animals used to cleaning their eyes and ears, bathing, brushing and combing is an excellent way to prevent diseases and annoying infections, and to take care of their well-being.
Finally, we must not forget that the cat loves and seeks physical contact with the owner: cuddles and caresses will always be welcomed with enthusiasm.
A cat is usually considered old from the age of 10 years. It is not uncommon for a healthy old cat to reach 15 years of age, with exceptional cases of cats that have lived for more than 20 years! Of course, the lengthening of the lifespan of this animal is linked to several factors, such as the breed, the diet, the climate and the environment in which it lives.
The old cat
Older cats, however, need some shrewdness to keep them healthy and in shape. Similarly, owners of older cats need advice on how to deal with and ensure that their four-legged friends have a peaceful old age.
As a cat ages, it will show a variety of physical and behavioural changes.
The diet of the elderly cat
Because of the reduced physical activity and the need for a lower calorie intake, it may gain weight, but in the same way, since the palatability of an elderly cat can decrease, it may lose weight: it is good to take special care of the diet of your cat.
Your pet will have to follow a balanced diet, since the need for different nutrients varies according to the age of the cat. The vet is the most suitable person to turn to for useful advice in choosing the most complete and balanced foods from a nutritional point of view, to prevent the development of diseases whose root causes are food imbalances.
The elderly cat will lose its recognized agility, will not be as lively and curious as in the early years of its life, but will devote much of its time to rest and sleep and will be less tolerant towards all sources of disturbance. It will then be appropriate not to change his habits, but to let him live in peace.
The importance of prevention
It can be more easily subject to diseases: lung disease, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, hearing and vision impairment, gingivitis. To prevent them and ensure a healthy life for your cat, you should take him to the vet more frequently.
Another advice is never to neglect the hygiene of the cat: the cleaning and brushing of the hair, the cleaning of the eyes and ears to avoid the formation of unpleasant infections remain essential.
Finally, they should never lack the affection and the constant presence of the owner. The understanding that is created between the cat and the master during a long cohabitation will never be less in the third age, but rather will be stronger.