This is how to work out how old your pet is in 'animal years'
If you are a pet owner, you'll know that animals become an integral part of the family when they're welcomed into the household. It doesn't matter whether they're a cat, a dog, or some kind of exotic lizard: our pets become our children, and we end up treating them as such (even if friends and family members find it weird).
And if you're as doting a pet parent as I am, you'll want to celebrate your kids' birthdays when they come around. However, you might find it interesting to know that when dear old Felix or Fido ages by one human year, they've actually gained several more cat or dog years - and it's the same case with birds and rodents, too.
If you've got a dog, working out how old it is can actually be harder than you might expect. First of all, you need to determine whether your dog is small, medium, or large, and then apply a little maths.
For the first five years, all dogs are considered to age at the same rate. At a "human" year old, they're actually 15; and, at two years, they're technically 24. For the three years after that, they age by four dog years per human year, meaning that every five-year-old dog, no matter the size, is actually 36. Cool, huh?
Then, it gets a little complicated.
Here's a chart to help you work it out:
Now, onto the cats. Thankfully, these little furballs have an easier formula when it comes to working out their ages.
For the first human year, cats also age by 15 of their relative years, and by the second year, they will also be 24. After that, the maths is simple: every human year is equivalent to four cat years. So a three-year-old is 28, a four-year-old is 32, and so on.
Going by this, if your cat reaches 21 years old (which is rare, but not totally unheard of for indoor cats), it'll actually be 100!
For birds, it varies a lot. If you have a bird with a long lifespan (some parrots can live up to 75 years!), then the ratio of human to bird years is essentially 1:1. However, if you have one that has a shorter lifespan - say, 20 years - then just do the maths and take 80 years as the human lifespan. So, if it only lives 10 years, every human year is eight bird years. If it lives for 40 years, a human year is only two bird years.
Rodents obviously don't live anywhere near as long, so they mature at a much faster rate. Rats, for instance, are considered socially mature (the equivalent to 18 human years) when they're just six months old, and guinea pigs age about 18 years for every one human year.
Of course, all of this is based on how quickly an animal matures, so the comparison to "human years" is really just an arbitrary baseline. Still, it's good to know for some animals, as you may think that your cat is still spritely and young at six or seven years old, but - realistically - that's a point where they may start to develop health problems.
Plus, it's very likely that your pet is actually older than you - so make sure to treat them with some respect!