How do vets predict how old a cat is?


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Have you ever wondered what signs a vet looks for when predicting the age of a cat? Our expert shares their advice...

Q) When a vet predicts how old a cat is, what signs are they looking for to give an estimate for that age? Chloe Sinnott.

A) CELIA SAYS: Vets can age a kitten by its teeth. The baby teeth emerge between 2 — 4 weeks. The permanent teeth start displacing these between 3 — 4 months. By six months, all the adult teeth are in place. With unneutered male cats, the testicles become more prominent at about five months. 

When an adult cat is fully mature it becomes more difficult to age accurately. Vets who see scores of cats every day will look at weight and size, and assess this in the light of the individual cat’s history. The condition of the teeth, how much tartar has collected, and how much wear and tear there is, will also help them assess age. It will be an informed estimate, rather than an age down to the last month.

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Using an ophthalmoscope, vets can look at the eyes to see if the lenses are becoming slightly cloudy, a process that usually becomes visible at the age of about six or seven years. Another sign of older age is atrophy in the iris, the coloured part of the eye. For older cats, blood tests for the diseases of older age and examinations for arthritis help towards an estimate.