Welcome To Our Complete Guide To Cat Lifespan. How Long Do Cats Live? How Can We Help Them To Live As Long As Possible? Let’s Find Out!
Growing up, we had indoor cats and barn cats.
The barn cats, who tended to make themselves at home whether we wanted them there or not, never seemed to live as long as the indoor cats.
This probably had something to do with the higher risk of predation from the local coyote population.
But it did make me wonder how long cats typically live. And what we as owners can do to help our feline friends live longer.
How long do cats live?
Domestic cats tend to live longer than dogs. This makes them a good choice for people who want a pet that is going to stick around for the long haul.
Of course, some factors are outside of our control. But genetics, luck, and preventative healthcare all play a role in how long your cat lives, which we will get into in more detail later.
Luckily for us, several scientific studies, including a comprehensive examination of 100,000 cats in the UK, have looked into cat life expectancy, giving us plenty of information about all of your feline’s nine lives.
Here is what they found out about domestic cat lifespans.
How long do indoor cats live?
One of the biggest factors determining cat lifespan is whether or not your cat lives indoors or outdoors.
Statistics may show that indoor cats tend to enjoy longer lives than their outdoor counterparts.
However, defining an outdoor cat can be complicated.
Feral cats and cats who spend all their time outside are exposed to more risks than cats who roam outside for just part of the day.
Even cats that spend all their time inside can occasionally slip outside.
This is important to keep in mind when comparing lifespans.
There are also differences between countries. In the UK, for instance, most cats spend at least part of their time outside, and outdoor cats are the norm.
In the US, where there are more predators, veterinarians encourage cat owners to keep their cats indoors only.
Indoor cats can live anywhere from 14 to 20 years.
Outdoor cats, on the other hand, are more prone to accidents, especially when they are young.
How long do outdoor cats live?
Outdoor cats are exposed to more risks than indoor only cats, but some owners and veterinarians argue that they also lead more interesting lives.
A British veterinarian points out that the UK has fewer predators than the US, although she does mention that cars pose a risk to outdoor cats.
In fact, the biggest cause of death in cats under a year old in the UK was automobile accidents.
However, once cats reach a year old, UK statistics show that they can live into their teens, just like indoor cats.
Whether you decide to let your cat be an indoor only cat or an outdoor cat depends on where you live, the advice of your veterinarian, and personal preference.
If you do choose to let your cat roam, however, there are a few risks you need to be aware of.
Cars are not the only risks faced by outdoor cats.
Human cruelty, poisons and toxins, disease, traps, and attacks by other animals all contribute to outdoor cat mortality rates.
These risks are why most American veterinarians strongly suggest that owners keep their cats inside.
Some owners, however, feel that keeping cats indoors all the time is cruel.
Choosing to make your cat an indoor cat does not mean your cat will never see the great outdoors. If you have the space and the means, you could build an outdoor cat area, called a catio.
You can also train your cat to walk on a leash like a dog. This way, your cat can explore all the wonders of the great outdoors without the risks.
Ultimately, the decision to make your cat an indoor cat or an outdoor cat is up to you.
If you have an outdoor cat, keeping them up to date on all their vaccines and preventatives can help reduce the risk of disease. You can also make sure that your home does not have any outdoor rodenticides or toxins that your cat could encounter accidentally.
Average lifespan of a cat
Domestic cats live an average of 14 years, according to years of veterinary research and records.
Some cats can live up to twenty years or older.
However, while the average lifespan of a cat is 14, studies have shown that mortality rates in cats peak at one year and 15 and 16 years.
In general, crossbred cats live longer than purebred cats.
Crossbred cats, in a study performed in England by the Royal Veterinary College, lived approximately 14 years, while purebred cats lived about 12.5 years.
We know that trauma is the leading cause of death for young cats, but what about older cats?
After age five, the leading cause of death for cats is kidney disease, but there are other factors that determine the length of your cat’s life.
Factors influencing cat lifespan
Predicting the lifespan of your cat is complicated.
Your cat’s breed, genetics, health, and luck all play a role.
Let’s start with breed.
Purebred cats tend to have slightly shorter lives than crossbred or mixed breed cats. This is an unfortunate side effect of selective breeding.
The health and longevity of your cat’s parents can be an indicator of your cat’s longevity. Inherited conditions like heart disease can reduce your cat’s lifespan, so knowing your cat’s pedigree can help your veterinarian determine your cat’s risk factors.
The biggest factor in cat longevity, however, is not breeding or genetics, but health.
It’s time to talk about fat cats.
Fat cats are undeniably cute, as the internet proves on a regular basis, but for every extra kilogram of weight your cat puts on, your cat’s lifespan is reduced an average of 6 months.
Feeding the right amount of a healthy diet and making sure your cat gets plenty of exercise is the best thing you can do to help your cat live a long life.
Regular checkups and vaccines help too.
Making sure your cat is vaccinated and kept up to date on preventatives reduces their risk of contracting diseases.
Those veterinary visits can also help your veterinarian catch any other illnesses, like cancer or diabetes, in time for treatment.
Tabby cat lifespan
Tabby cats, with their distinctive patterns, are often confused as a breed of their own.
In reality, the tabby marking is a coat pattern that is found in many cat breeds.
This makes determining the average lifespan of your tabby cat tricky.
Your tabby cat’s breed is a good place to start. Healthy crossbred domestic tabby cats tend to live an average of 14 years, but if your tabby cat is a member of a shorter or longer lived cat breed, this number could change.
How long do Siamese cats live?
Known for their striking eyes and vocal personalities, Siamese cats are a generally healthy breed.
They may be prone to certain health problems like dental disease, respiratory problems, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
Siamese cats live an average of 14.2 years.
Tortoiseshell cat lifespan?
Gorgeous Tortoiseshell cats have a reputation for free spiritedness, but torties are a coat coloring, not a breed.
Tortoiseshell colored cats can be found in most breeds of domestic cats.
However, coat color is genetic, and the tortoiseshell pattern is relatively unique. Most tortoiseshell cats are female.
In fact, male tortoiseshell cats are not only rare, but they are often sterile and may have more health issues than normal.
Female tortoiseshell cats typically live the same lifespans of other cats of the same breed, but talk to your veterinarian about any health problems your male tortoiseshell cat might have.
Persian cat lifespan
Persians are not too far away from the average cat lifespan. Despite several hereditary conditions including polycystic kidney disease, hypertophic cardiomyopathy, bladder problems, and liver shunts.
These pretty kitties live on average 14.1 years.
How long do calico cats live?
Like tortoiseshell cats, calico cats come in a wide range of breeds.
They also share the same gender preference as tortoiseshells, and the same health problems in males.
This is because the calico coloring only occurs when there are two X chromosomes.
This means that in order for a male cat to have a calico pattern, he needs to have an XXY chromosome, which can lead to health problems, sterility, and a shorter lifespan.
How long do Maine coon cats live?
Maine coons, with their unmistakable tipped ears, are prone to several genetic problems that result in a shorter lifespan than other cats.
Hip dysplasia, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and polycystic kidney disease can all shorten your Maine coon’s lifespan.
On average, Maine coons only live 11 years, but these larger than life cats certainly leave an impression.
How long do Ragdoll cats live?
These blue-eyed, friendly beauties get their name from their cuddly disposition.
The breed is generally healthy, but they are prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which could explain why they only live an average of 10.1 years.
How long do Bengal cats live?
Bengals share two things in common with wild cats.
An exotic look, and a shorter lifespan.
Bengals may be the shortest living cat breed, with an average lifespan of only 7.3 years.
Multiple hereditary health issues contribute to this, including polycystic kidney disease and a susceptibility to certain infections diseases.
Orange tabby cat life expectancy
We’ve talked about tabby cats, but what about orange tabbies?
The genetic traits that make a cat an orange tabby are linked to gender. Approximately 80 percent of all orange tabbies are male.
This means that they may have to face health problems associated with male cats, which we will explore later on.
The orange tabby color is found in many breeds, so the breed of your cat will also determine his lifespan.
How long do savannah cats live?
New, rare, and expensive, Savannah cats live an estimate 15 to 20 years.
Since the breed is so new, there is not as much information about Savannah cat longevity as there are other cat breeds.
Ask your breeder how long their cats typically live to get the most accurate guess, and watch out for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
How long do black cats live?
You would be forgiven that thinking that black cats had a shorter lifespan than other cats, thanks to superstitious human behavior.
There are certainly more black cats in shelters than cats of other colors.
However, while black fur might turn away some prospective owners, black cats actually tend to live longer than other cats.
A study that appeared in PLOS Genetics suggests that there are correlations between black hair and skin and longevity.
This makes black cats start to look a little luckier.
How long do Himalayan cats live?
Himalayan cats are a blend of Persian and Siamese breeds, and they have also inherited some of both breeds health problems.
Himalayan’s are prone to polycystic kidney disease and respiratory problems.
Despite these issues, Himalayans are estimated to live an average of 10 to 15 years, with some experts estimating 15 years or longer.
How long do sphynx cats live?
Like many purebred cats, the Sphynx Cat is prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
That does not stop them from living a long, healthy life.
As with Himalayan cats, there does not seem to be an official average age for sphynx cats.
Some breeders and enthusiasts claim the average lifespan of a Sphynx is 20 years, others are more cautious, estimating 10 to 15 years.
Tuxedo cat lifespan
Dressed to impress, the tuxedo cats are stunning.
The tuxedo marking can be found in several different cat breeds.
Unlike tortoiseshell and calico cats, there does not appear to be any gender predilections for tuxedo cats, or any health-related problems specific to the coloring.
Your tuxedo cat’s breed will help you determine your cat’s longevity.
How long do female cats live?
We know that human females tend to live longer than men.
The same could be true of cats.
Some studies suggest that female cats live longer than male cats by a few months.
While the reasons behind this are not yet known, there are some other statistics that are important.
Veterinarians do know that spaying increases female cats’ lifespans by 6 months.
Spaying reduces the risk of health problems like cancer and pregnancy complications. It also reduces the number of kittens and cats in shelters, so unless you plan on breeding your cat responsibly, get your cat spayed at the appropriate age.
How long do male cats live?
As with female cats, studies suggest that neutering your cat could add years to his life.
The U.K. study found that neutering increased a male cat’s lifespan by 2 years.
Neutering is associated with longer life in animals.
However, this dramatic age difference could also be the result of husbandry. It is possible that neutered males are less likely to be allowed outside than intact males, which would add the risks of an outdoor lifestyle to the data on intact male cats.
Longest living cat breed
Worried about your purebred cat’s lifespan?
Purebred cats might not always live as long as their mixed breed relatives, but there are a few breeds that stand out.
The American Shorthair cat, which is by far the most populous and genetic cat in the U.S. and falls into the ‘crossbred’ category, is one of the longest living cat breeds. These cats often live into their twenties.
Siamese are also known to live out all of their nine lives, living anywhere from 6 to over 20 years.
Burmese cats average 18 to 20 years, but one famous Burmese lived to age 35.
The lack of available data makes it hard to determine exactly which cat breed lives the longest.
We’ll just have to hope we find out which breed of cats lives the longest at some point in the future once more data is available.
How to help your cat live longer
Now that you know the statistics behind cat lifespans, let’s get to the important question.
How can you help your cat live longer?
Some things will always be outside of your control, like cancer, but there are some things you can do to give your cat his best shot.
Keeping your cat indoors avoids some risks of trauma.
Grooming is not only a great way to bond with your cat, but it also can help you catch any health problems before they progress too far.
Vaccination and parasite control will help reduce your cat’s risk of picking up a disease, and regular veterinary visits will help ensure that your cat is getting the best possible treatment.
Your veterinarian can also help you monitor your cat’s weight to prevent obesity.
Sometimes, our cats get into trouble. Doing your best to keep dangerous chemicals and toxins, away from cats, especially rodenticides, can help reduce your cat’s risk of accidental contamination.
For more information about how to help your cat make the most of her nine lives, talk with your veterinarian and set up a wellness plan.
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Further Reading and Resources
- ‘AVMA positions address animal welfare concerns.’ AVMA. July 2001.
- ‘Your Cat-Indoors or Out.’ Mobile SPCA.
- McKenzie, B. DVM. ‘Longevity & Causes of Death in Pet Cats.’ Skeptvet.com. March 2015.
- O’Neill, D. G. et al. ‘How long do our cats live?’ VetCompass. Royal Veterinary College University of London. 2014.
- Bukowsky, J. A. DVM, MPH, PhD, et al. ‘Description and Physical Characteristics of Cats.’ Merck Veterinary Manual.
- Schneider, Alexsandra et al. ‘Recurrent Evolution of Melanism in South American Felids.’ PLOS Genetics. April 2015.
- Elliot, P. BVMS, MRCVS. ‘In Defense of Outdoor Cats: A Veterinarian’s Perspective.’ Petful. Jan 2016.