Kitten and older cat

Age and Your Cat: What’s in a Number?

Rescue cats all have age ranges listed in their profiles, and many adopters start their search with an ideal age for their new furry friend in mind. But what’s really in a number? Here are some answers to common questions about how cats age.

How do you tell how old a cat is?

Determining a cat’s exact age is difficult—ask two experts how old your pet is, and you might get two very different estimates. That’s because the best way to determine a cat or dog’s age, looking at its teeth, is not precise. For a kitten, we look at how much the teeth have grown. For an adult, we look at how white or worn the teeth appear. 

However, each cat is unique—and access to dental care and cleanings will influence the appearance of their teeth and their estimated age. Teeth can determine an animal’s age range, but not its exact age.

At the Rescue, it’s easiest to determine the age of a kitty if they arrive here when they are very young. (Kittens grow and change rapidly in their first weeks of life; developmental milestones such as opening eyes and eating solid food are indicators of age.) For full grown rescued felines, we determine age range by examining teeth.

What’s the best age to adopt?

Cats of all ages make wonderful pets! Each age category has its own special appeal:

Kitten: Irresistibly cute, kittens are usually the first to get adopted. They’re fun, adorable, and curious—and they also require patience as they grow (and get into mischief). Because they need companionship, socialization, and an appropriate outlet for their play instinct, they need to be adopted in pairs or to a home that already has a young cat.

Young: Young cats may have reached their adult size, but they haven’t forgotten their kitten days yet! They’re the “teenagers” of the cat world—they tend to be active and playful, but less demanding than kittens. Once they reach 6 months of age, young cats can be adopted alone. (Although they still might appreciate a feline buddy!) 

Adult: Usually more mellow than the younger kitties, adult cats make for loyal companions and have a great capacity to bond with their people. The average lifespan of a cat is up to 20 years, so adult cats have many years of loving friendship to offer.

Senior: Unfortunately, seniors are often overlooked due to their age—but adopting an older pet can be especially rewarding. Older cats are grateful for a chance to live out their golden years with you. They usually crave human companionship and a peaceful environment, and they will reward you with unlimited love.

Whatever age kitty you choose to make part of your family, thank you for choosing adoption!

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Posted in Feline Care.