There is no reliable scientific way to calculate the relationship between human and cat years but it is generally agreed that the first two years of a cat's life are roughly equal to the first 25 of a humans. After this, add four 'cat years' for every human year. To ensure your cat lives a long and happy life it is important to understand all of your cat’s key stages in its life. Cat’s lives are broken into four stages and each stage requires special attention to certain health and behavioural areas
Kittens (birth up to 1 year)
A lot happens during a kitten's first year. It is hard to believe that a tiny, mewing baby that fits in the palm of your hand can grow into a full-fledged adult in only twelve months. They develop rapidly in the first few weeks of their lives. When first born they are blind and deaf as their eyes only open after about 2 weeks and their ear canal after about 3 weeks. They are unable to walk and have to crawl and depend on smell to find mom. By five weeks of age they are able to defecate without mom having to stimulate them to excrete waste and can slowly be weaned off mom’s milk. They are now curious, exploring and playing with their litter mates and this is the time to start socialising them. Gradual positive introductions to people and other pets can be made and they can explore their surroundings and experience new sights, sounds and smells. By 8 weeks they should be taken for their first visit to the veterinarian for their vaccinations and de-worming and are now ready to go to their forever homes. Their booster vaccinations should be given every 3 to 4 weeks until they are about 4 months old to protect them from the most common diseases.
Young Adult (1 year – 6 years)
When your kitten turns one year old, they become an adult cat. They may still act like a mischievous kitten but their needs will have changed. They will now require adult cat food with all the appropriate levels of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. At approximately 14 months of age they require a booster vaccination and it is a good time to make sure your cat’s flea and de-worming treatment is updated. Regular exercise is needed to keep them fit and healthy. Be sure to use appropriate play with your cat. Inter-cat aggression may develop at this stage along with sexual maturity.
Mature Adult (7 – 10 years)
Cats in the mature stage are the human equivalent of 40-50 years old. Mature cats tend to be less active than adult cats. Play activity begins to decrease and your cat becomes more likely to gain weight. Yearly veterinary exams will help identify arthritis, weight or dental issues which are more common in mature cats. Your cat will benefit from regular check-ups to keep them healthy and prevent disease or illnesses.
Senior (over 10 years)
The human equivalent of turning 60. Senior cats tend to be less active and playful and may exhibit behavioural changes with vocalization, changes in litter box usage, not going up and down stairs as easy. They tend to sleep more, gain or lose weight and have trouble reaching their favourite places. Senior cats should visit the veterinarian a minimum of every six months since much could happen in a year and your veterinarian can catch things early on before they are more advanced or costly to treat.
What lifecycle stage is your cat at home and what stage have you enjoyed the most? Let us know in the comments below