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How to Tell a Cat's Age

You may think your cat is wise beyond their years, but exactly how old are they? And why is this important to their health? Today, our Madison vets explain how to tell how old a cat is.

Determine Your Cat's Age

If you adopted your new kitty or rescued them from a shelter, their age may prove difficult for you to determine. When it comes to how to tell the age of a cat, your Madison vet is a great resource. Our team can also administer routine exams and help you develop a custom healthcare plan to ensure your feline friend's ideal longevity and quality of life. 

Bringing your cat in for a thorough physical checkup can help us determine your cat's approximate age. As veterinarians, we can examine the yes, teeth and coat to determine your cat's age.   


The eyes of healthy kittens and cats will be very bright and clear through their young adult years, with no evidence of discharge or tearing. 

By the time a cat reaches its senior years, their eyes may become clouded with tears or discharge. This doesn't typically happen until a cat reaches at least 10 years old. 


Your cat's first baby teeth will likely emerge around the time they reach 2 to 4 weeks old, making teeth a reliable physical characteristic to determine your kitten's age.

Their permanent teeth are growing in above the baby teeth. By the time your kitten has reached 3 to 4 months old, their baby teeth will start to naturally fall out and be replaced by their permanent teeth. Typically, all of their adult cat teeth will be in place by the time they reach 6 months of age, when the growth of teeth would not be useful anymore to help determine your cat's age. 

That said, the amount of staining, plaque or tartar on an older ca's teeth can also indicate age. However, keep in mind that teeth cleaning products for pet's teeth are available at many pet supply stores. This may mean tartar is not an accurate indicator depending on the diligence of a particular cat's caregiver in maintaining a kitty's oral hygiene. 

Therefore, while teeth can sometimes point to a kitten or cat's approximate age, they are not foolproof. 

Coat Development & Cleanliness

A young kitten's fur is soft and baby-fine. However, your cat's coat will become thicker and more coarse as they age. You may also find it changes color and becomes lighter or darker in shade. When a cat enters their golden years, they may even develop patches of gray or white individual hairs on their fur, much like humans do as they age. While the condition of your cat's coat isn't a guarantee of their age, the coat may be one characteristic that your vet can use to determine your feline friend's age. 

How well a cat grooms itself can also help indicate how old your four-legged companion is. While cats are known for their impeccable grooming habits, an older cat may groom less frequently if arthritis or dental issues make this chore painful, or weight gain makes it difficult to reach certain spots on their body.

Book Your Cat's Routine Exam at Best Friends Animal Hospital

As your cat ages, their healthcare needs will change. However, routine wellness exams will always be essential to helping your pet maintain their long-term physical health. These checkups should be combined with regular vaccinations, parasite prevention and proper nutrition to give your pet the best possible chance at lifelong well-being.

Our vets can perform a thorough physical examination to check for any potential health issue and discuss your cat's evolving nutritional needs as they age. For senior pets, we can identify emerging health issues early, provide a proactive treatment plan and recommend lifestyle adjustments to increase their comfort as they face potential age-related conditions from urinary tract issues to bone or joint disorders and various diseases such as cancer.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you wondering about your cat's evolving health needs as they age? Contact our Madison vets today to schedule an examination for your feline friend. 

New Patients Welcome

Best Friends Animal Hospital is always accepting new patients. Our experienced veterinary team is passionate about the health and comfort of companion animals. Get in touch today to learn about the difference our expertise makes.

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