Age estimate - stray cat with unknown history

Zerthax

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We are trying to determine the age of a stray cat that we adopted in April of 2016. We would like to estimate how old he was when we adopted him, and by extension his current age. The estimates have been all over the board. I have included photos from various times, marked with approximate dates.

Initial conditions (April 2016)
  • Body - large, significantly overweight (about 18#). Originally suspected a pregnant female until we discovered that he was in fact an unneutered male
  • Head - wide, with pronounced jowls. I later learned that this was a result of him being unneutered
  • Teeth - missing roughly 1/2 of his teeth, with advanced tooth decay on multiple others
  • Fur - unkempt and dirty, though he had been outdoors for about 2 weeks that we had observed
  • Eyes - look to be in good condition
  • Movement - limited running and jumping onto lower surfaces. No jumping directly onto counters, tables, or higher surfaces from floor level. Stairs seem somewhat labored (likely due to weight). Very heavy sleeper.
  • Interactions with people - expert lap cat and bedtime snuggler. He was clearly not suited to outdoors and had no interest in going outside
  • Interactions with other cats - not aggressive or territorial with other cats, despite initially being unneutered. All other cats were spayed/neutered.
Recent conditions
  • Body - weight loss, down to 13# and steady for about 3 years. Ideal is probably 12#. He was neutered a few weeks after we adopted him
  • Head - jowls reduced in size
  • Teeth - 3 rounds of tooth extractions, starting in 2016 with most recent in early 2022. He has about 1/4 of his teeth remaining: upper canines and a few molars. The lower canines were either missing or part of 2016 extraction.
  • Fur - being brushed is one of his favorite activities, so he is brushed frequently. Does show a "clumped" fur look last 3 years
  • Eyes - look to be in good condition, no apparent change
  • Movement - limited running, will get short bursts of "zoomies" out of the litter box or into a crinkle tube. Will typically clamber up onto lower surfaces (e.g. couches and chairs) after some hesitation, rather than a proper jump. Deep sleeper, spends much of the day sleeping in isolated space such as the closet. We don't have stairs where we live now, so we can't evaluate.
  • Interactions with people - continues to be expert lap cat and bedtime snuggler. He has never returned to outdoors or attempted to go out.
  • Interactions with other cats - generally very friendly. Will groom other cats. Short bursts of playfulness, but would not describe him as playful.
  • Mental / cognition - no obvious signs of mental decline or cognition change since he was adopted
  • Additional medical info - he was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in the summer of 2021. This was successfully treated with radiotherapy.
April 2016
April 2016.jpg

May 2016
May 2016.jpg

January 2017
January 2017.jpg

July 2018
July 2018.jpg

May 2020
May 2020.jpg

July 2020
July 2020.jpg

August 2022
August 2022.jpg
 

Furballsmom

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Hi!
So, to restate the obvious 💞 he's at least six, and I'd take a guess at about 10 years old.

Would you consider some glucosamine? There's a product by Liquid Vet called Hip and Joint that's clean without added ingredients and it has the three vital ingredients necessary.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. Pretty kitty!! It can be very hard to tell age on a cat once they have all of their adult teeth, because too many other factors come into play. His teeth issues could be somewhat telling, but not entirely as some cats genetically inherit 'crummy' teeth.

IMO, the most telling factor would be the hyperthyroidism, which usually happens in older cats. Yes, there are exceptions to that, but if you read up on it, it not common for cats to acquire it in their younger years. Great that this issue has been resolved!!

His activity level can't be terribly helpful either, as there are just some cats that don't tend to like to play (my current and previous cats, for example). If anything, this might tell me based on my own personal experience, he was originally an 'only cat' as I tend to think a lot of them acquire less active lives to begin with.

It might be worth it to have some x-rays done to see if he has arthritis - that could be another way to help determine approximate age - but, being an overweight cat for some of his life can also attribute to early arthritis. Even so, if he has arthritis, there are ton of different ways to treat it that could actually help with his mobility.

FWIW, and this is strictly nothing more than my layperson's opinion, I would put him at 10+ years old now. What estimations have you had - just curious? This seems to be somewhat in alignment with Furballsmom Furballsmom who just posted before I did!
 

neely

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His teeth issues could be somewhat telling, but not entirely as some cats genetically inherit 'crummy' teeth.
IMO, the most telling factor would be the hyperthyroidism, which usually happens in older cats. Yes, there are exceptions to that, but if you read up on it, it not common for cats to acquire it in their younger years. Great that this issue has been resolved!!
First, welcome to TCS! :wave3: Second, I agree with both of the above statements. When we adopted our present cat his teeth were in such bad condition that the vet gave us a 3 year window. Along with cracked and missing teeth he needed several other extractions. As mentioned, Hyperthyroidism does tend to appear in cats as they age. We started treatment with Methimazole but ended up going with the I-131 radioactive iodine which was successful.

You have two lovely cats, like ebony and ivory. :bigeyes::kitty: What are their names?
 

Tigger's Mum

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Many former street cats have stiff joints. When we rescued and adopted our late Tia, she could barely moved and couldn't jump up even onto the sofa, couldn't even get her tail off the floor. We got Denes Green Lip Mussel and what a difference that made. Within 2 weeks she was moving much better, could hold her tail up and jump onto the sofa and other high objects like my piano. It's good stuff and you only need a tiny amount, less than 1/4 teaspoon once a day. A tub will last at least a year. It does smell very fishy though. Our Tia was approximately 12 years old according to our vet. We had her for 5 years before she passed away very suddenly earlier this year.
 
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Zerthax

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I'll respond to multiple comments here instead of a bunch of separate comments.

Would you consider some glucosamine?
We give him glucosamine supplements, which has noticeably helped. He does move around a little quicker, though still not much of a runner or jumper.

It might be worth it to have some x-rays done to see if he has arthritis - that could be another way to help determine approximate age - but, being an overweight cat for some of his life can also attribute to early arthritis. Even so, if he has arthritis, there are ton of different ways to treat it that could actually help with his mobility.

FWIW, and this is strictly nothing more than my layperson's opinion, I would put him at 10+ years old now. What estimations have you had - just curious? This seems to be somewhat in alignment with Furballsmom Furballsmom who just posted before I did!
He has been diagnosed with arthritis and has shown signs of it the entire time we've had him. We originally chalked it up to weight, but even after losing 5# (almost 1/3 of his weight) and with glucosamine he is still a bit of a shambler.

The guesses of his age at adoption spanned quite a range from 5 to 12 years old. 5 seems plausible, as this would put him at almost 12 now, though onset of various conditions would suggest an older cat. 12 at adoption seemed a bit much at the time and really doesn't track with how he's been since then.

My own guess is right down the middle at 8-9, putting him at about 15 now. This is based on the teeth, arthritis, and hyperthyroidism. Even with early onset of tooth loss and arthritis, I'd still expect him to have been approaching 10.

I do not expect that he was a permanent outdoor cat, and seems more likely to have been out for a matter of a few weeks or so. He seemed very poorly suited to outdoors, and being significantly overweight doesn't really mesh with that either. He was very docile and almost immediately a lap cat.

You have two lovely cats, like ebony and ivory. :bigeyes::kitty: What are their names?
Nimbus (the white cat) and Cali (the black cat). Cali is 4, and they get along quite well.
 
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