Close X

Is is Truly Possible to Convert “Cat Years” or “Dog Years” to Human Years?

My question is regarding the aging of cats in terms of "cat years vs human years." I have a 3-year-old Maine Coon cat. All my...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  May 4th 2010


My question is regarding the aging of cats in terms of “cat years vs human years.” I have a 3-year-old Maine Coon cat. All my research sources have stated Maine Coons do not reach physical maturity until they are between 3 – 5 years of age. Given the “age correlation” chart I received in a recent Catster email, is the chart accurate for a Maine Coon breed of cat or would my cat be somewhat younger given the slower rate of physical maturity of the breed?

Thank you for your time and any information.

Pete
Williamsburg, Virginia

Any attempt to convert a cat’s age to an equivalent human age must be a rough approximation at best. Age correlation charts always should be taken with a grain of salt.

Consider this: it is very difficult to compare one human’s age to another. Some humans reach puberty at eight years of age. Others don’t go through a voice change until the age of 18. Men generally have shorter life expectancies than women. A person in Japan has an average life expectancy of 80.7 years. In Mozambique the life expectancy is a mere 37.5 years. (Life expectancies as of 2000. Click here for source.) Childhood and neonatal deaths skew the statistics in Mozambique and it’s therefore hard to compare apples to apples. But one thing is certain: a 50-year-old person is a senior citizen in Mozambique, whereas a 50-year-old Japanese citizen is still in his prime.

When you are told that your cat is 45 years old in human years, you should wonder: are those Japanese years or Mozambique years?

And don’t forget that life expectancies and aging rates vary drastically among breeds of cats and dogs. Maine Coons reach maturity more slowly and, I’m sorry to say, generally have shorter life expectancies than Siamese. Therefore, an age correlation chart is likely to overestimate a Maine Coon’s age when he is young and underestimate it later in life. It also is hard to correlate a dog’s age accurately. Great Danes are elderly at seven, but Miniature Poodles can chug along for 15 or 20 years.

Fortunately, in the end one aphorism is as true for pets as for humans. You’re only as old as you feel.

Photo: Do Maine Coons and Great Danes get to drink Hoegaarden when they’re old? By Lukasz Roth.