Cat Years to Human Years: Your Feline's Lifespan Explained

The science on cat years to human years suggests felines age at a far faster rate than their owners. Although our furry friends go through all the same life stages as us, they usually live for a fraction of the time that we do.

Studies show the average cat may only live to be 14, which is the equivalent of age 70 in human years.

According to Cats Protection's Field Veterinary Officer Dr Lucinda Alderton-Sell, ageing in cats begins rapidly, but slows down as they get older.

Newsweek consulted the experts on how a cat's lifespan works in comparison to humans, and how to care for older cats.

How Old Is a Cat In Human Years?

An old wives' tale often suggested to find out a dog's age, you multiply it by seven to reveal its human equivalent. However, this is not correct for either pet.

Dr Lucinda Alderton-Sell told Newsweek: "Between the ages of three and six, cats are in the prime of their lives and usually at their peak of physical fitness. This period covers age 24-40 in human years."

"They then move into their mature years, from seven to ten when they may start to slow down a bit and put on weight. This is when they're the human equivalent of being in their mid-40s to mid-50s."

"From there, they reach what would be the retirement age for humans, turning the human equivalent of 70 when they are 14."

"At this time in their lives, they need more rest and tend to live at a slower pace of life. If they live to 21, this would be 100 years in a human lifetime, so naturally their health will likely be waning."

Stock image of a kitten
Cats don't remain kittens for long as they age much faster than humans. Getty Images

Cat Years to Human Years

According to International Cat Care (IAC), there are six stages of life for cats, but it can be hard to tell a cat's age by the usual features we would consider for a human, such as greying hair or arthritis.

IAC said: "What these stages let us do is to appreciate how old the cat is inside, since, as has been pointed out, this is often not very obvious from the outside, as cats seldom go grey or show outward signs of pain or illnesses."

Here's how convert your pet's age from cat years into human years.

  • Six months = 10 in human years
  • Two years = 24 in human years
  • Five years = 36 in human years
  • 10 years = 56 in human years
  • 12 years = 64 in human years
  • 14 years = 70 in human years
  • 21 years = 100 in human years

How Long Do Cats Live?

As is the case with humans, there is not a universal answer that applies to every cat. Instead, various factors will change the longevity of their life, such as "health, diet and their environment,", Dr Alderton-Sell explained.

She continued: "The average lifespan for a domestic cat is about 12-14 years. However, some pet cats can live to be around 20 years old."

One thing has been proven, however, having pets can help humans to live longer. A study from the American Heart Association found a link between pet ownership and low blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels. Taking care of a cat seems to bring benefits to us as well as to them.

Stock image of a cat
Elderly cats need more attention paid to their health and a comfortable place to sleep. Getty Images

How To Care For an Elderly Cat

Dr Alderton-Sell says, at this point in their lives, cats need a great deal more attention paid to their health, and a comfortable place to sleep.

Like humans, this is the point when diseases and symptoms can become more of an issue, so health checks are needed more often.

She said: "Elderly cats usually need to be taken to the vet for a health check more often than younger, healthier cats, particularly if they have any age-associated symptoms or diseases."

"Your vet can advise you on how frequently they need to be seen and many surgeries now run special 'geriatric' clinics. Regular weight checks are also important, as are keeping up regular booster vaccinations because cats' immune systems can weaken with age."

Dr Sarah Elliott, a Central Veterinary Officer for Cats Protection told Newsweek some of the particular things to be aware of include constipation and cognitive dysfunction and deafness.

Stock image of a cat
From kitten to mature cat, our pets go through various stages of life. Getty Images

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