Seven-year rule no longer applies

Wednesday, November 21, 2001



By John Koch, DVM

Question: I have a cat that in December will be 20 years old. She is part Siamese and part tabby. I am amazed at what great shape she is in considering that she is the same as a person 140 years old. She still likes to spend some time outside and even caught a mouse the other day. I have one of her kittens, and she is 18 years old. I am wondering what is the record age for a cat?

Answer: I am not sure that there is a verifiable record. However, earlier this year Cat Fancy Magazine announced the winners of its "In search of America's Oldest Cat Contest." The contest, which was sponsored by the Iams Pet Food Company, featured a winner that was 27 years old. There were six runners-up, and they were all 24 years old. All the cats were pictured and, like yours, appeared to be in great shape.

Actually the old idea of one year of a pet's life being equal to seven years of a human's life is no longer true. Today, thanks to better diets, caring owners, and advancements in veterinary care, pets are living much longer. A 2-year-old cat is roughly equivalent to a person 21 years old. After two years, each year of a cat's life is equal to approximately four human years. This scale means that a 20-year-old cat is about the same age as a person who is 93.

Veterinarians will tell you that it is not at all unusual to see cats in the 15- to 18-year-old range. With good genes, good care and a little luck, 20 or more years of life in cats is becoming more and more common.

Dr. Koch is a Cape Girar-deau area veterinarian.

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