We’ve all heard that myth about a cat having nine lives, but where did it come from? If it were true, wouldn’t all cats just live forever? Sadly, as much as we all wish that to be the case, it isn’t. Just as with all other living creatures on our beautiful planet, cats are born, they live, and then they sadly leave us.
But what a life they have, with us as their proud, pampering parents!
Why don’t we take a closer look into the kind of life your new family friend might have?
- Cat’s Nine Lives Legend
- The Four Life Stages of a Cat
- Life Span of a Cat
- Cat Years to Human Years
- When Does a Cat Stop Growing?
- How to Tell the Age of a Cat
Cat’s Nine Lives Legend
Unbelievably, no one knows where the myth of a cat having multiple lives comes from. It is just that, though: a myth.
In various parts of the world, cats have different numbers of lives. In the UK or USA, for example, it is generally recognized that cats have nine lives. Head to Spain, Brazil, Greece, or Germany, however, and they only have seven. In Turkey and some Arabic countries, the myth states, they only have six.
It is thought that the myth could have started in Ancient Egyptian because they absolutely adored cats. They adored cats so much that they worshipped them and forbade them to be killed, but that’s not all. According to historians and records, household members would mourn for their feline friend, even going as far as to (quite bizarrely) shave off their eyebrow hair.
The Four Life Stages of a Cat
Just like humans, cats go through several different life stages. According to guidelines by the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, there are four in total, and these are known as:
From birth until 1 year of age, a cat is classed as a kitten.
At around 2 weeks old, kittens will start to open their eyes. At around 4 weeks old, they will start to grow teeny-tiny little teeth. By the time they reach 8 weeks old, the kittens will be almost fully weaned, on a diet that is all (or mostly) solid, and are ready to leave the safety and comfort of their mother, to go to new homes. Most kittens leave their mothers between 8 weeks and 12 weeks of age.
At approximately 6 months of age, you should consider having kittens spayed or neutered. At this point, male and female kittens can start feeling those mating urges.
When a cat hits 1 year of age and until they are around 5 or 6, they are a young adult cat. They’ll be active and fun, will need plenty of stimulation, and may even need a playmate, if you’re not going to be around.
Read more: Why You Should Adopt Two Cats At Once
Your cat’s personality will start to peek through during these years.
They’ll let you know what they like and don’t like, and they won’t sugarcoat it!
At around 5 or 6 years of age, a cat becomes a mature cat. At this point, they can start to put on a little weight, because they are a little less active than they were before. This is even more so the case if they have been spayed or neutered.
Once a cat hits 7 or 8, they are classed as a senior cat, which makes them around 50 or 60 in human equivalent years. At this stage of life, your senior cat might need a little assistance, especially when it comes to stairs, jumping great heights, and generally getting around. Most senior cats are still active, but it’s also common for a cat to slow down so much that they’re almost like a different cat.
Life Span of a Cat
Countless studies have been done into the average life span of a cat, but the numbers vary so greatly that producing a definitive average is difficult. Some breeds live longer than others, and indoor cats live longer than outdoor cats (usually).
Not only that, but the life span of domesticated pets has also increased over recent decades, probably because we pamper our pets a lot more than our ancestors did.
In the 1980s, the life span of a cat was just 7 years of age. In 1995, this rose to 9.4 years. And in 2021, this rose again, to 15 years.
A 15-year-old cat in human years is believed to be roughly 75-80 cat years.
A 20-year-old cat is roughly 100 cat years old.
The oldest cat that ever lived was 38 years old. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the oldest ever cat was a female Creme Puff, who lived in Austin, Texas, USA. Born back in 1967, Creme Puff died on 6th August 2005, aged 38 years and 3 days.
Cat Years to Human Years
When Does a Cat Stop Growing?
Although it is different for every cat, most cats will have grown to their full size by the time they reach 2 years of age. They can be considered fully grown at any point from approximately 18 months onwards.
How to Tell the Age of a Cat
There are a few ways in which you can try to determine the unknown age of a cat, but it’s not a straightforward process. This is especially the case if you’ve never attempted to do it before and have little experience with felines.
1: Take Them to a Vet
By taking a stray or lost cat to the vet, you can not only check the age, but also the gender whether they are microchipped, and can be returned to their owners if they need urgent medical treatment and a lot more.
Older cats will have rougher, coarser hair than their younger counterparts. If the cat in front of you looks a little scruffy and rough around the edges, it could be the case that they are an older individual.
Older cats will also be less muscular. You are more likely to see and feel their bone structure (unless they are overweight), and you may also see some sagging skin, particularly if they’re a female cat and they’ve had kittens.
Just as with humans, cats’ teeth become more stained and dirtier looking as they get older. As a rule, you can deduce that the cat in front of you is older if they have yellow, dirty, or damaged-looking teeth.
Again, just as with humans, cats’ eyesight deteriorates as they age. Because of this, their eyes can grow cloudy or change in other ways.
Although there are ways to check the age of a cat, it is an exceedingly challenging task. If you don’t know what clean cat teeth look like, you won’t necessarily know what dirty cat teeth look like.
This also applies to the cat’s eyes, appearance, and more. A stray cat could just as easily be a scruffy, aggressive, always-in-a-fight alley cat just as much as it could be an older/senior cat.
Do Cats Live Longer Than Dogs?
Although there isn’t exactly a definitive answer when it comes to life expectancy for a cat, it is generally recognized that they live longer than dogs. The average dog usually lives for 10-15 years. The average cat usually lives for 15-20 years.
Are Cat Years the Same as Dog Years?
No, they are not the same. A one-year-old dog will be roughly 7 dog years old. A one-year-old cat, on the other hand, will be roughly 15 cat years old.
My Cat is 16 Years Old and Losing Weight – Is This Normal?
Yes, this is somewhat normal, but it is definitely recommended to get your furry friend checked by a vet. It could be a simple sign of aging, but weight loss is also a common symptom of many underlying medical conditions, some of which are potentially profoundly serious.
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