How long do cats live? Is it longer than dogs? Do some cat breeds outlive others? And, how can we make sure that our cats are around as long as possible?
If you’ve ever wondered about feline lifespans, we’ve got the science, stats, and simple tips to make sure your cat lives a long and happy life. Our cats may not actually have nine lives, but we can help them live the best one possible!
On average, how long do cats live?
In our recent article, What’s the Average Life of a Dog, we found out that our canine companions live an average of 10 to 13 years. So how do our kitty companions compare?
If you’re a Cat Owner, you’ll be glad to know that our feline friends have a pretty long life expectancy. Specifically, the average kitty can live to between 13 and 17 years. In fact, many cats live to be around 20 years old, with some of the oldest cats on record living into their early 30s!
But, for a kitty to live beyond the average cat lifespan, there are a few factors to consider. Lifestyle, genetics, diet, and past experiences can all affect how long a cat will live. Let’s explore a few of the most influential factors in a cat’s expected lifespan.
Do some cat breeds live longer than others?
Yes! Certain cat breeds have been known to live an average of 15 to even 25 years old! They include:
While these are the cat breeds with the longest average lifespan, there are many other cat breeds and mixed breeds who can live well into their 20s. In fact, there’s evidence to show that mixed breed cats, thanks to their genetic variability, might be better prepared to outlive their purebred counterparts.
How long do cats live outside versus inside?
Another important factor in how long a cat will live has to do with whether they’re allowed to go outside.
Now, there are some benefits for your cat being able to enjoy the fresh air; it gives them an opportunity to exercise and seek out mental stimulation. But, there’s a major reason why most vets will recommend against unsupervised outdoor time: it significantly lowers a cat’s life expectancy.
Cats who are able to explore the great outdoors on their own are at high risk of contracting diseases from roadkill, prey, or parasites. They’re also vulnerable to predators, cars, and other territorial cats.
And, while our cats may want to go outside, that doesn’t mean that doing so won’t expose them to stressful situations. Close encounters can be traumatic to our feline friends, and high levels of stress are a silent killer for cats.
If you want your cat to be able to stick their whiskers in a flowerbed or sharpen their claws on a tree trunk, you can provide them with supervised time outside. You’ll want your cat to be under your control at all times, either by providing them a fenced area to roam or putting them on a leash.
How long do cats live desexed versus intact?
Cats who have been spayed or neutered tend to live longer than cats who haven’t. And, it’s not just by a little bit. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, desexed female cats in the US tend to live 39% longer than intact cats, while desexed male cats live 62% longer on average than non-neutered ones. There are a few reasons for this.
On the one hand, both male and female cats who are looking to breed are at high risk for injury. Male cats can roam large distances looking for a mate, despite the danger of predators or traffic. And both males and females have been known to fight for a mate or territory during their search.
Even cats who live inside will do everything they can to leave, potentially injuring themselves in the process. And, indoor cats who do manage to escape may be less experienced around cars and other animals.
There are also unique health risks related to mating and having kittens. Cats who haven’t been desexed are vulnerable to contracting Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and pregnancy complications. Having offspring also increases the risk for certain types of cancer later in life.
What can you do to help your cat live longer?
The good news is, Cat Owners have control over many of the things that help cats live longer. In addition to keeping an eye on our cats if they go outside and preventing them from mating, there are many other simple changes that will have a big impact on their life expectancy:
- A healthy diet. Obesity is a major health risk for cats, and the right feeding practices can help prevent unhealthy weight gain. First, make sure that Fluffy is getting a high-quality cat food. There are pros and cons to dry versus wet food, but a combination of both is generally the best option. And, think about meal sizes. Instead of free feeding, your vet can recommend how many grams of food your cat should eat to remain healthy.
- Plenty of playtime. For cats who spend the majority of their time inside, play is a necessary activity for their physical and mental health. Most cats won’t be content to play alone, so invest in a few cat toys that you can use to get them jumping, stalking, and pouncing.
- Social interaction (aka kitty cuddle time). There’s a misconception that cats couldn’t care less about us humans. But the truth is that cat’s don’t just like our company, they actually seek it out. Too much time alone can be stressful to a cat, so make sure that your kitty has ample social time with you. And if you’re going to be away from home, leave your feline friend in the care of a friendly Cat Sitter.
- Control over their environment. Even more than dogs, cats are territorial animals. They like to have plenty of perches and open space to call their own, and changes in their environment can be stressful. If you’re going to move house, make sure that you take special care to keep your cat calm.
- Dental hygiene. Cats can experience negative health effects from poor dental hygiene just like humans and dogs. Tooth brushing for cats is a good way to keep them healthy.
- Regular vet check-ups. Cats are good at hiding any discomfort or illness, which is a huge risk given that early detection of diseases is crucial for recovery. Regular vet check-ups will help you monitor any health changes and give your cat the best chance at a long life.
Amazingly, the extra steps we’ve taken as Cat Owners to improve the health of our furry friends has been paying off. Cats are living longer now than they ever have in the past. And that’s the result of improvements in Pet Ownership practices, cat food quality, and medical care.
In short, the official answer to, “How long do cats live” is 13 to 17 years old. However, we can all help our cats live longer with a good diet, exercise, medical care, and plenty of love!