As much as we would love to believe that cats have nine lives, unfortunately, they don’t. As a cat owner, you want to know how long you can expect your cat to live. Of course, you can’t predict the exact number of years your cat will live. But thankfully, research and statistics allow us to understand a cat’s life expectancy and the factors that may influence it.
Life Expectancy of a Cat: How Long Do Cats Live?
The average cat life expectancy is 10-15 years, but their actual longevity depends on various factors, including breed, environment, and health. Ten to 15 years are the average numbers, meaning there are outliers included, like if a kitten dies in infancy or a cat lives a notoriously long life (like the current oldest living cat is 32!)
Let’s explore this topic a bit.
What Factors Affect a Cat’s Lifespan?
A cat’s lifespan will depend on its breed, environment, veterinary care, overall health, and whether it is spayed or neutered. A cat’s environment affects its life expectancy. Indoor cats typically live longer than outdoor cats because they are removed from outdoor stressors and risks. They are also fed regularly and have access to clean, fresh water. Indoor cats live 14-20+ years.
While outdoor cats get to do what cats do best: freely explore, there are a handful of risks that come with living outdoors, which decreases their life expectancy. Outdoor cats are exposed to fleas, ticks, and other parasites, which can cause diseases. Cat fights are also an issue for outdoor cats and can cause an increased risk of injury. Then, there are the risks of a cat being hit by a vehicle or falling prey to a wild animal. Unfortunately, the numbers aren’t great when it comes to outdoor cats. They have a life expectancy of three to ten years with an average lifespan of 6 years.
Certain cat breeds live longer than others. A Siamese cat can expect to live at least 15 years, and a Persian may live past 19 years! Here is a comprehensive list of cat breeds and their life expectancies.
In addition, a cat who is spayed or neutered typically lives longer than those who are not. Neutered males are less prone to prostate or testicular cancer, and spayed female cats face less risk from breast cancer, ovarian cysts, and uterine issues. Cats who are have been spayed and neutered are typically less active and burn fewer calories, which can lead to obesity and diabetes, thus shortening the lifespan.
Cats who have been not vaccinated or treated for parasites also face shorter lifespans. Cats should see the veterinarian at least once a year for an examination and annual shots and more often if they are sick.
How Old is My Cat in Human Years?
Another way to answer the question, “How long do cats live?” is to look at the various factors of aging in pets and humans. People often say to multiply a cat’s actual age by five to find its “human age,” but this is not accurate since cats experience their entire infancy, childhood, and much of their adolescence within their first year of life!
The AAHA explains a cat’s lifespan through an informative chart in this article. From birth to six months, kittens experience 0-10 “human” years. From seven months to two years, they range from 12 years old to 24 years old! Then, their stages even out some. For years three to six, they jump three “human” years for each one cat year. When a cat is three years old, they are equivalent to 28 years old in human years. Their six years is equivalent to 40 human years.
From 7 to 10 years, cats are considered mature adults, ranging from 44 to 56. When a cat turns 11, he is considered a “senior citizen” equivalent to age 60 in human years. By the time a cat turns 14, he is 76 human years.
Geriatric cats are considered 15 years and above. As of 2020, the world’s oldest cat is Rubble, a British cat born in 1988, now 32 years old, equivalent to 144 human years! Previously, the oldest known cat in the world was Creme Puff, who lived from 1967-2005, a whopping 38 years and three days!
What Physical Signs Can I Expect as My Cat Ages?
Arthritis is a common problem in cats as they age. They may not be as active and won’t jump on the high places they may used to frequent. Give your cat ramps or steps so she can still birdwatch at her favorite window. Older cats also either need more or less sleep. You may notice them sleeping all day or much less than they used to. Unfortunately, as cats age, they may avoid human interaction more. They may not enjoy being stroked or brushed. As your cat ages, keep her as comfortable as possible while still encouraging a healthy lifestyle.
How Can I Help Expand My Cat’s Lifespan?
Just like humans, cats who live a healthy lifestyle improve their chances of marking more birthdays. Your cat needs proper nutrition (plenty of meat!) and enough exercise. Sometimes an indoor cat needs to be “encouraged” to exercise which can involve
Visiting the vet on a regular basis is also essential to a longer life. Cats are really good at disguising disguises. However, your veterinarian will be able to look for signs that you have missed. Also, oral care is often overlooked when it comes to cats. In fact, statistics show that most cats already have early signs of dental disease at the age of three.
Dr. Jennifer Coates from PetMD sums it up well: the best way to maximize your cat’s life expectancy is to provide excellent nutrition, ample exercise, plenty of mental stimulation, preventive medicine, protection from the outdoors, and best of all, lots of love and attention.
While we don’t know exactly how Creme Puff was able to live 38 years, I’m sure good genetics, a safe environment and lots of love were key factors. Cats may not have nine lives, but they can live long, fulfilling lives if they are well taken care of and loved.