Have you ever wondered how old your cat was? There is an updated formula which replaces the outdated 7 human years per cat year which provides a more accurate assessment of a cat’s development. The first year of a cat’s life is equivalent to 14 human years, the second year is equivalent to 10 human years, and every year thereafter is equivalent to 4 human years. For example, a 18-year-old cat would be equivalent to an 80-year-old human.
In recent years, feline life-stages have been redefined as well to more accurately reflect their growth and development over the years. Kittenhood is defined as the period from birth to 6 months of age, a junior is between 7 months to 2 years of age, a young adult is between 3 to 6 years of age, a mature cat is between 7 to 10 years old, senior cats are between 11 to 14 years of age, and super senior or geriatric cats are 15 years old or older.
Mixed breed cats tend to live longer than purebred cats, with an average lifespan of 14 years compared to 12.5 years for purebred cats. The most common cause of death in cats over 5 years old is kidney disease, with over 13% of cats succumbing to kidney failure. Out of the 13 cats I have had over the span of 37 years, three of them passed away as a result of kidney disease, so I am acutely aware of this statistic.
However, I met two cats in the past who beat the averages, with one cat at 25 years of age, and another who was a ripe old 29 years of age. Both cats were extremely frail and only had the energy to sleep, eat, drink, and take care of excretory functions, but it was impressive to see that they were still alive at such advanced ages.
Supposedly, the oldest cat was Creme Puff, who lived 38 years, from August 3, 1967 until August 6, 2005. There are several cats who are still alive at this point, the oldest of whom is Great Grandma Wad who is 36 years old. The oldest cat who is still alive who was verified by Guiness Book of World Records is Flossie, who was born on December 29, 1995.
On May 12, 2023, I lost Kazu, my 14-year old European Burmese who was truly the most incredible cat I have ever had. She had countless adorable habits, including hopping instead of walking downstairs, performing somersaults on the stairs on a daily basis, and lying in a human’s lap on her back with all four limbs perched in mid-air, purring so fiercely that her limbs would move in rhythm with the rumble. One of my favorite things about Kazu was the fact that she would sleep next to me every night, throughout the night, and her purr motor would start up as soon as she saw my eyes open in the morning. There were also times when Kazu would be the big spoon, putting her cute little paws on my back and nestling in my hair as I slept on my side turned away from her.
Every night, Kazu would bound up the stairs to our bedroom, hop onto the bed, wait for me to settle in under the covers and lift them for her, then she would get into position so that her body would be under the covers and her head would be either on my shoulder, arm, or on the pillow next to me, with her body snuggled up right next to mine. It’s no surprise that I haven’t been able to sleep very well since she passed. What’s even more remarkable is that I had three cats in succession from 1988 through 2023 who were my bed buddies, and all of them were my “little spoons”.
The first little spoon I had was Pebbles, a tortie who was full of tortie sass, had a loud purr similar to Kazu’s which could be heard from an adjacent room, and who would sleep next to me through the night every night. She was in my life from 1988 until 2000, when kidney disease took her from me. Before Pebbles died, I got a blue silver patched spotted tabby and white Scottish Fold kitten in November 2000 and named her Sophie. Little did I know that Sophie would soon take over as my little spoon, curling up next to me, often in the crook of my arm, and sleep throughout the night that way.
My Scottish Fold Sophie…
Sophie developed polycystic kidney disease at the age of 9, in 2009, which was when I got Kazu. When Sophie died in late 2009, Kazu had not yet developed any consistent bed habits, but before long, she began sleeping next to me in bed, and became my third little spoon. Anyone who is lucky enough to have a cat who sleeps snuggled up next to them throughout the night is blessed indeed, and I had three cats do that over the span of 35 years. I certainly hope to experience that again in the future.
I found the above video so entertaining that I thought I would share it with you on my blog. Though not all cats respond to catnip (about 50 to 70 percent respond), the ones who do are hilarious to watch as they roll around, lick, chew, and rub up against the catnip as well as whatever surface the catnip has touched. There is a substance in the catnip plant known as nepetalactone which causes an intense, euphoric reaction.
I purchased a catnip plant in May, and it has quadrupled in size since I purchased it. Despite the fact that I was aware that Nepeta cataria is in the Mint family of plants, I was surprised by how strongly it smelled like mint. I also figured that my cats would enjoy the fresh catnip since dried catnip loses its potency over time. One day in late June, I decided to give all four of my cats a sprig of catnip to see who would respond to the fresh leaves. Two of my cats couldn’t care less about the catnip, while the other two went absolutely nuts. I have posted videos of the two cats in my household who are catnip responders for your enjoyment.
Shima has always been a responder, but this was the first time she had experienced fresh catnip leaves, and she loved the experience.
Since 1986, I have had fourteen different cats, and cannot imagine life without felines in my household. Seven of the cats I had have been of mixed breed, while the other seven were purebred. Of those pure breeds, I have had a Blue Point Birman (Natasha, 1991-2000), a Snow Bengal (Abbey, 2002-2005), a Scottish Fold (Sophie, 2000-2010), one European Burmese (Kazu, born in 2009 and part of my current brood), and three American Burmese (Taiko 2001-2009, Tenshi, born in 2008, Koji, born in 2021). From the moment I brought Taiko, a platinum male, home, I actually enjoyed how intensely social and needy Taiko was, and I completely fell in love with his doglike personality, which I quickly learned was characteristic of Burmese cats. It was enough to solidify my preference for Burmese cats, and now I insist on always having Burmese cats in my life.
Tenshi, my Blue American Burmese Male
Burmese cats truly are extremely friendly, need to be around their humans the majority of the time, and are so drawn to laps that they are referred to as “lap Velcro”. Having lived with Burmese since 2001, I can definitely vouch for the fact that these felines are attention whores, which is quite the opposite of what some cat haters think about cat temperament. My cats are social, playful, gentle, and intelligent, and they often want to cuddle, sometimes when I am trying to do housework or telemedicine! I’m also accustomed to having all my cats on my bed at some point during every night, and I will usually wake up with Kazu right next to me. These cats have tons of personality!
Kazu, my Cream European Burmese Female
There are some minor physical differences between American Burms and European Burms, such as head shape (American Burms have more rounded skulls, while European Burms have a slight wedge shape), and there are colors which are unique to E Burms (such as Cream, which is what my Kazu is), but both Burmese versions are very similar and also feature the same loveable personality profile. It is much more difficult to find European Burmese breeders in the United States, so if you have your heart set on an E Burm, you will probably have to travel out of state to find one.
Koji, my Sable American Burmese Male
The following are breed descriptions from CFA.org and TICA.org respectively. The CFA recognizes the American Burmese, while TICA recognizes the European Burmese.
AMERICAN BURMESE BREED DESCRIPTON:
The Burmese breed first came to America in 1930 when Dr. Joseph Thompson of San Francisco brought a small walnut brown female cat from Burma. He named her Wong Mau and bred her to Siamese cats. Through selective breeding the unique solid brown colored coat, now known as Sable, was isolated. This work demonstrated that these Burmese cats were a distinct breed and ultimately led the breeders to request championship recognition from the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA). Along the way, the other colors seen in the Siamese breed were also seen in litters. Over time and with much controversy, these other colors were accepted by CFA. The four colors we now recognize in CFA are Sable, a rich dark brown; Champagne, a warm beige; Platinum, a pale gray with fawn undertones; and Blue, a medium gray with fawn undertones.
Burmese cats carry surprising weight for their size. Their coats are short and close-lying, and they have a very silky texture. They need very little grooming, usually requiring only some daily petting. You will see a range of styles of Burmese cats, with those with rounder heads and shorter bodies being the show cats. Their large, expressive eyes radiate an innocence that will seduce you, and they have an irresistible appeal that has won over many a person who thought he didn’t like cats. Burmese cats have an endearing quality that has won the hearts of those lucky enough to be owned by one. They have great affection for their people, wanting to be with them as much as possible without being overly demanding. Many Burmese will even play fetch with a toy, given the chance.
Burmese kittens can be quite spirited. They are playful and fearless, attempting feats beyond their means and landing on their sturdy little rear ends. A Burmese kitten will remain playful well into adulthood. As they mature, their unique intelligence will reveal itself as their personalities unfold. They will soon grow into confident and charming little executives who will rule the house and your heart. Burmese are soft-spoken beings who have little trouble making their wishes known. They adore their people and are known for being good with children as well as liking (or at least tolerating) the family dog. Burmese are extremely people-oriented companions. Their personalities are almost dog-like. They will follow you from room to room, and they greatly desire to give and receive affection. They seek out warm laps and gentle strokes of your hand, and they love to snuggle up with their owners when they are reading or watching TV. Come bedtime they look forward to sleeping in or on your bed if allowed. Burmese are convinced that it is their job to run the house. Females tend to demand center stage and take an active role in managing the household. Males on the other hand tend to be more relaxed, managing from a comfortable spot on your lap. Be forewarned – Burmese cats can be addictive! It is not uncommon for someone to acquire a Burmese and find one is not enough. Many people ultimately have two or more Burmese, one of each gender or of different colors. Being one of the most trusting cat breeds, Burmese should never be allowed outside. https://cfa.org/burmese/
EUROPEAN BURMESE BREED DESCRIPTION:
Burmese can be found in a range of solid and tortoiseshell colors: rich, dark sable brown; medium, warm blue; warm, honey beige chocolate with pink or fawn tints; lilac that ranges in tone from a bright pinkish grey to a silvery platinum with pink tints; reds of a light, golden apricot with melon-orange overtones; rich, warm deep creams with hints of apricot; and the soft mingling of red or cream with sable, chocolate, blue or lilac found in the tortoiseshells. In young cats, the points will be darker but as the cat gets older and the coat matures the body color becomes deeper and richer until there is only a very slight difference between its body and the color on the legs, head and tail. On Mar 29 1955, the first blue Burmese kitten, Sealcoat Blue Surprise, was born in England. Cats other than sable had appeared earlier, but most Burmese breeders chose to breed only the sable cats. It is now believed that Wong Mau also carried the genes for dilution and chocolate that resulted in the appearance of chocolate, blue and lilac kittens. The red factor was added later in Europe. The Burmese was one of the original breeds TICA recognized in June 1979.
I’m sure the majority of you are well aware about the importance of good dental health, but have you ever thought how important good dental health is in your pets? Just as in humans, the mouths of your pets are teeming with bacteria, and some of those bacteria can enter the digestive tract, respiratory tract, and bloodstream, and cause disease, particularly in the heart, lung, and kidneys.
Another factor to consider in our pets is the fact that we have domesticated these animals over the millenia, and as a result, they no longer depend on hunting to procure their food. This means that the natural form of teeth cleaning, in essence, gnawing and tearing at the flesh of their prey, has, for the most part, been eliminated, and replaced with dry kibble and canned foods. Eighty percent of pet dogs and cats who have had no dental cleaning or intervention show signs of oral disease by the time they are 3 years old.
I take all of this very seriously with my pets, and I am diligent about taking them in every six months for non-anesthetic dental cleaning. It’s worth the financial expense, even though I struggle to pay for their dental care twice a year. The way I see it, I’d rather take them in for regular dental cleaning than to put them at risk for a myriad of diseases, and have them suffer needlessly as a result. I’ve been taking them in for regular cleanings from the time they were young adults, and they have had mild issues with no need for a more aggressive cleaning with anesthetic. I realize that they may at some point need cleaning under anesthesia, but until we cross that bridge, I will continue to take them in for the anesthesia-free option.
There are definitely some limitations with non-anesthetic teeth cleaning for pets, such as the fact that only the plaque above the gum line can be removed. The veterinarian examines the pet’s teeth and gums to determine if there is any inflammation or sign of infection, and if there are any findings which are beyond the scope of the non-anesthetic cleaning crew, the pet is referred for cleaning with anesthesia.
Overall, if you aren’t paying attention to your pet’s teeth and gums, you should. It’s a good idea to ask your veterinarian at your next visit what he or she recommends in the way of dental care. There are dental chews which help to clean the teeth, and some very brave pet owners actually brush their pet’s teeth. Your vet will help determine the best care regimen for your beloved pet.
I don’t know how I would get through difficult days without my three wonderful cats. Tenshi, Shima, and Kazu are so special to me that I always look forward to coming home and seeing their sweet faces. Those of you who have pets to whom you are closely bonded know how comforting it is to come home to them. Animals are capable of deep, unconditional love which is unparalleled. A pet won’t care that you look all disheveled from battling a grueling day. If you are distraught, a pet will make you smile and perhaps even laugh with cute and silly antics. Pets are natural antidepressants, and create the perfect distraction when you are tempted to feel sorry for yourself or ruminate over something which is only causing you anguish.
Pets are wonderful for our well-being and spiritual health.
It turns out that owning a pet also confers physical health benefits as well. Pet owners enjoy a reduction in stress and anxiety, which has a positive impact on blood pressure. Another very striking and unexpected benefit to having pets is a decrease in a child’s chances of developing allergies to animals. The decreased chance of developing allergies to animals in small children who live with animals is as high as 30 percent, according to research conducted by pediatrician James E. Gern which was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Dr. Gern conducted a number of studies on children exposed to pets, all of which concluded that children who were exposed at an early age to animals tended to develop stronger immune systems overall, and were far less likely to develop pet-related allergies.
When I think of friends who have allergies to cats or dogs, most of them did not grow up with a pet in the house. I also did not grow up with a family pet per se, unless you count the two rabbits I had in fourth grade for about six months. My mother was so fed up with them that she sold them to a pet store, and that was that. But I spent extended periods of time petting and hanging out with numerous outdoor cats in the neighborhood, enough so that I had a regular exposure to them. I also spent weekends with my dad’s dog, or with his friends’ dogs, so the exposure was steady.
I honestly believe that early and regular exposure to pets is a boon to immune health in young children. And since there is a large body of scientific evidence to back that up, why not get a family pet for your children to love?
For the past two years, I have tried just about every tactic to train my obese European Burmese cat Kazu to eat a special diet. We put her on scheduled feedings, only giving her wet food, and tried to ban her from the dry kibble which we needed to leave out for the other two cats (both of whom are normal weight). Kazu continued to sneak dry kibble throughout each day, despite being scolded for doing so.
After all my unsuccessful efforts to get Kazu on a unique feeding schedule, I was at my wit’s end. Then a couple of people suggested that I purchase a microchip pet feeder. I looked up microchip feeders online and discovered SureFlap Microchip Pet Feeders. I almost keeled over when I saw the price of these units: $149. What’s worse is that I knew I had to purchase TWO of these feeders, since Kazu would have to be trained on one feeder, while Tenshi and Shima would be trained on the other.
I saved up so that I could buy two feeders. $365 later (I had to purchase C batteries, as well as extra RFID tags since only one tag comes with each feeder, and we have three cats), I was ready to give them a try.
The training period consists of five stages, in which the door progresses from remaining completely open (stage 1), closes a small amount (stage 2), then closes incrementally more until stage 5 when the door closes completely, only opening for the pet who is programmed to the feeder. The idea with the incremental training is that the pets will eventually understand that the closed door will open when they approach the feeder to which they are programmed.
Without going into agonizing detail, I will say that it took a good six weeks before my cats finally understood how the feeders worked. They were so afraid of the devices at first that I honestly began to doubt whether the system would work for my household. As soon as the door would move back or forward, my cats would just freak out, so we were at training level 2 (the door only moves a small amount and the chamber is very accessible) for close to 3 weeks.
I’m not sure how I feel about these things. While they are well constructed and work well, they are inaccessible to people who can’t afford the units. In addition, our household STILL hasn’t progressed beyond the training setting, because when the doors are completely closed (as they are in regular post-training mode), my cats don’t consistently understand that all they have to do is approach the feeders for the doors to open.
What this basically means is that I must have dry kibble available to all three cats in both feeders, which completely defeats the purpose of buying these devices in the first place. I purchased these feeders THREE MONTHS AGO. In addition, all three cats race into the kitchen when I enter it, and beg for wet food like starving street urchins. I relent, because I want to make sure my babies are fed.
Kazu just keeps getting fatter, while my wallet is definitely slimmer from purchasing the devices which mainly serve to startle and confuse my entire brood.