With cats living to 15 or 16 years on average, they spend a fair share of their lifetimes in the third stage of life – early adulthood. Typically between 4 and 6 years old, this is when a cat has settled into its body shape for good with a more muscular appearance.
The first signs of maturity come at around 1 year as the kitten’s tiny teeth start to make way for larger versions. As it grows through adolescence, a cat will shed and regrow its coat twice per year with new patterns emerging until after it reaches adulthood.
Just like humans, a cat’s growth becomes more noticeable in infancy and less noticeable as the cat reaches adulthood.
While this growth may seem strange to us, cats have lived on the planet for millions of years so have developed ways of living with their growth cycle. For example, many cat breeds such as the Persian and Siamese cat are characterised by a large nose, which is likely to be the most sensitive part of their face. The cat’s nostril capule is covered in fur, which protects it from the sun and keeps it moist while its head swells up with a large amount of blood in order to accommodate enlarged nasal passages.
Human Vs Cat Growth:
While cats appear big and strong, they are in fact built to be lightweight like a feather. Although cats do have over 200 muscles, on average they only have 3 times the number of muscles as the strongest human muscles.
Some facts about cat growth:
- They shed fur 15 times every year.
- As a cat grows from an infant it will double its muscle mass every two years.
- In comparison to a human baby, a cat’s bones grow exponentially after seven weeks old and continue growing exponentially until adulthood. So, by the time they are 16 years old their chest will be twice as wide as it was when they were born.
Life Stages of Cats:
There are 6 stages of development in a cat’s life. These stages are known as the:
• Nestling – 1 – 3 months
• Kitten – 4 – 7 months
• Juvenile – 8 – 12 months
• Adult/Jowly or “Jug-eared” – 12 – 15 months
• Mature/Terrier-like or “Tiger-stripe” – 15 – 20 months
Male Vs. Female Cat Growth:
The bones in a cat’s body grow rapidly from 8 weeks to 16 weeks old. This is the same as a human baby. Where it differs is that unlike a human baby, whose bones continue to grow in length as they age, the cat’s bones stop growing at the age of six months and then shrink until they reach adulthood.
This means that male and female cats tend to be of different sizes at different ages. Most male cats are larger than females at three months old (approximately 4 times more). However, male cats generally stay larger than females until around seven years of age or later when their body size declines (approximately twice as large in size).
Can You Tell How Big a Cat Will Get?
As mentioned before, cats do not vary in size as drastically as humans do. In fact, a cat’s size is mostly determined by genetics and the environment it lives in.
Although the exact anatomy of a cat’s body can vary greatly depending on its breed, it is always possible to tell how big a cat will grow given specific factors such as diet and environment. Fun fact: Having three legs and four legs usually do not affect the size of a cat’s body because cats are able to compensate through their use of their tails.
After spending many years nursing with her mother, a kitten has probably developed an instinct that helps her locate her mother often, even after months have passed. At this point, a kitten is able to hunt and find shelter for herself. So how does a kitten develop an instinct to nurse? Well, the mother cat actually teaches her kittens how to hunt and feed themselves, but she does so in a subtle way.
If she finds food and eats it in front of the kittens, she is essentially telling her kittens that food exists outside of her milk and that they need to learn how to get it. And so, kittens become independent after about six months old.
At what age do cats stop growing? As mentioned previously, cats grow at different rates depending on their gender. Male cats are larger than female cats at three months old (approximately 3 times more).
The average female cat will stop growing at around 16-20 months of age and the average male cat will stop growing before that. As well, as a cat ages, it is likely to lose some of its muscle and bone mass and get up to twice the size it was when it was younger.
These are just a few interesting facts about animal growth.
Is Your Cat Growing Properly?
you may ask yourself, “How can I tell if my cat is growing properly?” Well, the best way to tell is to monitor your cat’s weight and body condition.
Some ways to assess your cat’s body condition:
You should be able to feel the ribs of your cat without much difficulty. The spine and hip bones should be easily felt as well. If you have trouble feeling any of these bones, then your cat may not be eating enough for its size or may need a new diet.
If you feel that there seems to be some sort of lump or bump, then it may possibly be a tumor; however, this is hard to determine without going to the vet first.
As you can see, there is a lot of information to know when it comes to animal growth. If you have any more questions about your cat’s growth or body condition, then consult your local veterinarian.
Cat Growth Chart
The following link will take you to the standard cat growth chart. You can find the standard chart by looking at your cat’s age in months, and adding five in order to convert it into a calendar year.
Cat Development Chart
The following link will take you to the cat growth chart, as well as a comparison between human and feline development that correlates with a human’s age of 18 years old. If your cat is over 3 years old, then it will also show an appropriate large image of what cats look like at different ages.
Neutering alters the timing of puberty and also causes a larger decrease in the final size of large bones than occurs in males. Neutering before six months old has little effect, while neutering after six months can lead to an approximate decrease in adult weight by 10% and adult length by 5%. The ideal time for neutering is between four and six months old.
Cats that have been spayed or castrated do not go through male-type puberty (i.e. they do not develop testicles or exhibit increased levels of testosterone production). Spaying and castrating also prevents female cats from developing mammary cancer and male cats from suffering testicular cancer and territorial aggression.
Estrogen and testosterone may stimulate the growth plates in long bones to continue to grow for a longer time, potentially leading to taller adult animals. The larger the bone diameter, the more estrogen needs to be present for a growth plate to continue growing . It has been suggested that both growth plates in certain bones are stimulated at once (e.g., the tibia and fibula), but controlled experiments have shown that this does not occur .