When you first adopt a kitten or a cat, you probably aren’t thinking about how long it will live. Eventually, however, everything dies, and it’s nice to have an idea of how long you can expect your cat to be your companion. The lifespan of a cat is affected by many factors, including their diet, their living conditions, their lifestyle, vaccinations, and what, if any, preventive medicines they are on. While each cat is an individual and you can’t ever guarantee its lifespan, there are some general principles about the length of a cat’s life that hold true.
Indoor cats live up to 16 years on average. It makes sense that indoor cats are expected to live up to three times as long as outdoor cats. Indoor cats are usually safer than outdoor cats as they aren’t prone to the same predators. Indoor cats are usually neutered or spayed, are up to date on their vaccinations, and aren’t exposed to the same life stressors and dangers as outdoor cats.
It’s important to remember, however, that indoor cats need stimulation, attention, exercise and distractions to keep from being bored and to maintain a long, happy life. Most cat owners can provide their cats with these things and are lucky to have their cats living with them for more than one decade.
Outdoor cats, however, are a bit more challenged in the longevity department, due to the daily dangers they face. It’s not just other predators that are threats to an outdoor cat’s life – their greater exposure to parasites, illnesses, fleas, and ticks can shorten an outdoor cat’s life as well. Additionally, outdoor cats are more likely to get into fights with other cats and are more likely to be run over by vehicles. It’s estimated that an outdoor cat will live for approximately five years.
Purebreds/Hybrid Cat Breeds
The longevity numbers quoted in this article are for the average domestic cat. The lifespans of other purebred and hybrid cat breeds vary widely. According to PetCareRx.com, the following breeds tend to have shorter lifespans than the “average” cat:
- American Wirehair: 7 to 12 years
- Abyssinian: 9 to 15 years
- Cymric: 8 to 14 years
- Manx: 8 to 14 years
- California Spangled: 9 to 16 years
- Devon Rex: 9 to 15 years
- German Rex: 9 to 14 years
- Singapura: 9 to 15 years
Oldest Cats on Record
Of course, cats can and have lived longer than these averages, as individual factors vary. The oldest cat ever recorded was from Austin, Texas and lived from 1967 to 2005 – he was 38 years old when he passed! Today, it is believed that the oldest cat in the world currently is Rubble, a cat living in the United Kingdom who just turned age 30 in 2018. That’s equivalent to age 137 in human years!
How Can I Increase My Cat’s Life Expectancy?
While it would be nice it cats really did have nine lives, unfortunately, like us, they only have one. How can you, as a cat owner, make sure that you cat’s life expectancy is maximized? There are a few things that you can do to extend your cat’s life:
- Feed your cat a balanced diet. Make sure she is getting all of the nutrients she requires. Usually a good, premium commercial cat food is sufficient. If in doubt, ask your vet what cat food he or she recommends.
- Cut back on treats. Just like with humans, cats who eat too many treats will quickly become obese. Obesity can definitely shorten a cat’s life expectancy. The ASPCA recommends that treats make up only 5 to 10 percent of your cat’s daily intake of calories.
- Always have clean water available. Your cat needs to drink water all day long to maintain hydration, especially if she eats strictly dry food. Without water, she could easily develop a urinary tract problem or become dehydrated. Water fountains are great for cats who drink a lot and need a constant supply of clean, fresh, filtered water.
- Keep your cat’s vaccinations up to date. Make sure your cat is immunized against everything that your veterinarian recommends.
- Clean your cat’s teeth and gums. This might sound easier than it really is, but keeping your cat’s teeth and gums clean by brushing them with a cat toothbrush and toothpaste can greatly extend your cat’s life. Maintaining a bacteria-free mouth prevents all sorts of problems in cats, from sinus problems to heart disease.
- Treat hairballs. If your cat vomits often, it is usually due to a hairball. Don’t just clean up the mess and go on – this is a problem that needs to be treated. Treatment with a flavored laxative can help to prevent hairballs, as can regular brushing of her fur.
- Take your cat to the vet. Some cat owners think that if they have an indoor cat, they don’t need to take her to the vet as often. Not true. Yearly vet visits are important for all cats to keep your cat healthy and catch problems before they start.
- Keep your cat indoors. As noted above, indoor cats have a much longer expected lifespan than outdoor cats.
- Spay or neuter your cat. Cats who are spayed or neutered are not only projected to live longer, they are also less prone to illness and disease.
- Play with your cat. Cats need exercise, just like their owners do. Remember to play with your cat often to prevent her from becoming bored and lazy and getting fat.