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Trying to work out your pet’s age in human years? We’ve all heard that one human year equals seven dog years, but there are several factors that could alter your cat's or dog's ageing process. Let's look at them.

The first thing to consider is that pets mature at a much quicker rate than people, and the first two years are particularly significant. On their first year of age, our furry companion roughly compares to a 15-year-old teenager, while their second year of age equals 24 years of age in a human. From year 3, each new year counts as about four human years.

Confused? See this table:

Remember this isn't an exact science, but an easy way to guess your pet's approximate 'human' age.

Cats versus dogs

Your pet's life expectancy doesn't depend on age alone. Other factors, such as size, weight, lifestyle, nutrition, and genetics also come into play.

For dogs, size is a key factor, and smaller breeds tend to live longer than large breeds. For example, the average lifespan of a 'giant dog' like a Great Dane is around 8 years whereas a small-sized dog like a Yorkshire Terrier could live past 15 years. So large breeds not only age faster – their organs have to work harder to support cell growth and body mass.

It is also worth noting that purebreds (both cats and dogs) can be more predisposed to inherited genetic disorders.

So what about cats? Well, it seems size and breed have little influence when it comes to how fast our moggies age. However, whether your cat is an indoor or outdoor cat could likely influence their longevity.

Indoor cats tend to live longer (their average lifespan is 12-15 years) in comparison to those who are allowed outside (8-12 years). Although it’s not unusual for a cat to live long into their late teens or early twenties. The oldest cat recorded, Creme Puff, lived until the ripe old age of 38 years!

An outdoor cat’s life expectancy can be affected by many factors: from where they live to day-to-day hazards such as road traffic. Cats exploring the outdoors can also become exposed to diseases and come into contact with poisonous substances (like antifreeze).

Of course, this is not to say that your outdoor cat will live a shorter life. But there are precautions you can take, like considering an indoor life if you live near a busy road, or keeping your cat indoor at night (studies show that 78% of all road traffic accidents involving cats happen at night).

You’ve probably heard the saying “curiosity killed the cat”, so you’ll understand that cats can get themselves into all kinds of mischief!

Can I help my pet live longer?

The short answer is 'Yes'. In fact, how well you look after your friend can have as powerful an impact as genetics.

Both cats and dogs will benefit from a balanced diet. Good nutrition can contribute to their overall health in so many ways: from strengthening immunity to supporting digestion and maintaining muscle mass and joints. Ultimately, it can also help prevent a host of diseases.

Another way to foster health is by encouraging exercise. As with humans, exercise stimulates your pet's mind and body. It also helps regulate their weight and slow down muscle and joint deterioration. And let's not forget how happy it makes our furry friends!

While outdoor cats have the freedom to roam around as they please, creating a stimulating environment for indoor cats is key. Playing with your cat just 15 minutes a few times a day, and having toys and places to climb will keep her fit and happy.

Our cats love watching the birds outside, so we have a few bird feeders installed near windows. It’s a great way to provide hours of entertainment.

Lastly, taking your pet to the vet for their annual checkup is essential to keep abreast of their health. We would also recommend neutering and spaying at a young age. These procedures can prevent certain types of cancer and infections. Plus, they save animals from the stress that comes with heat and pregnancy.

So while there isn’t a fail-safe formula for a long lifespan, one thing's for sure: any care and affection you throw into the mix will make your pet's life a happier one.