I wonder whether shelter staff deliberately underestimate the ages of the cats in their care to assist rehoming.
On Facebook, Elisa Black-Taylor tells us of several occasions when she has fostered/adopted cats from her local shelter, Greenville County Pet Rescue, when the age of the cat has been underestimated by such a margin as to make me believe it is deliberate. I am speculating of course. However, it would make sense if the shelter were stating that the cat was much younger than the true age because younger cats are more ‘marketable’. We all know that.
Some examples referred to by Elisa are:
- Lily said to be 3. Actual age about 6
- Tom said to be 2. Actual age about 11
- Coral said to be 5. Actual age around 10 according to vet
- Sealy said to be 2. Actual age around 11 according to vet
- ‘we’ve adopted several who were said to be 3 and were older than 9’
We know working out a cat’s age can be tricky but there are good signs of age such as the condition of the teeth, the color of the iris of the eyes, spots in the iris, belly flab/flap, condition of the coat, grey hairs, activity levels, overall appearance (cats do show there are in a general appearance). Good age estimates are based on a bundle of factors not a single one such as teeth condition. The condition of the teeth might mislead, in fact. How teeth age is partly genetic and partly environment. There are wide variations.
I’d have thought a good estimate of a cat’s age would be ±3 years. We should be able to estimate within about a 3 year band. Also I’d say that appearance differences are more pronounced over the first and last 4 years. It is the middle years which are more confusing.
Perhaps I am being to tough on the cat shelter. Perhaps the errors are genuine but the disparity in the guesstimated and the true ages for Coral and Tom seem to be too great to believe they were errors. However, vets are better or should be better than shelter staff in assessing cat’s age. Perhaps the shelter staff are not very knowledgeable about cats. I am sure that they have decent knowledge but assessing age requires quite a lot of skill.
The FB page referred to.