The average lifespan of a cat is around 15 years, and indoor cats have significantly longer lifespans than outdoor cats.
Many factors impact a cat’s lifespan, including diet, exercise, where they live, vet care and breed.
Cats go through various life stages. Each stage has unique characteristics, and as cats age, they may experience changes in behavior, health, and grooming habits.
Seeking regular veterinary care, providing a safe indoor environment, and spaying or neutering your cat can contribute to a longer and healthier life for your cat.
To help make vet care more affordable, we recommend taking out a pet insurance policy. You can try using a comparison tool to compare multiple providers and find the policy that best suits your budget.
From their early playful years to their later stages of life, understanding the factors that affect a cat’s lifespan is essential for providing responsible care.
In this article, we’ll cover:
The average cat lifespan
Factors that impact your cat’s life expectancy
The life stages of a cat
What happens as your cat age
How to extend your cat’s lifespan
How cat years compare to human years
Exploring these factors that mold your cat’s lifespan will enable you to elevate your cat’s general wellness and prolong your shared moments together.
The average cat lifespan has increased over the past four decades. In 1980, cats only lived an average of around 7 years. As pet owners have become more aware of feline needs and vet care is more common for cats of all types, those numbers have steadily increased.
How long do indoor cats live?
Indoor cats have the longest average lifespan at 13 to 17 years. Indoor-outdoor cats may also lead long lives depending on their diet and whether they receive regular veterinarian care.
How long do outdoor cats live?
Outdoor cats only live an average of 2 to 5 years, though some pet cats that are left outside may live longer.
Outdoor cats are at greater risk of many life-threatening injuries and illnesses. That includes getting injured in traffic, having parasites, ingesting harmful substances, or being attacked by another animal. Cats that live primarily outdoors are also exposed to the elements, which can shorten their lifespans.
Lifespans of popular cat breeds
Each breed of cat has a different median lifespan.
Here’s a look at some popular breeds and how long they live, on average, when well-cared for as indoor cats:
Cat life expectancy is affected by a variety of factors, including breed, diet, exercise and general lifestyle.
Here’s a quick look at some factors that can impact your pet’s life expectancy:
Breed. Breed-specific health conditions and other factors can impact how long a cat lives.
Diet. A nutritious diet can help increase a cat’s lifespan.
Exercise. Like humans, cats need the right amount of exercise to ensure overall health and longevity.
Being neutered or spayed. According to the Humane Society, spayed or neutered cats live 39% to 62% longer than their feline brethren.
What are the life stages of a cat?
Like humans, cats go through various life stages. They range from kittens to geriatric cats.
Each stage of cat life is defined below:
Kitten. Cats are typically kittens for around 1 year. During this stage, kittens are playful as they interact with and learn about the world around them.
Junior. In the second year of life, cats are still growing and may act more like kittens than adult felines. They also continue to need more calories than they will as full-grown cats.
Adult. Cats are in this stage in years 2 to 6. They may still be somewhat playful, but they have achieved all of their growth and can be moved to adult cat food.
Mature. This is akin to the human “middle-age” years, and cats at this age are less playful. You may note the beginnings of behavioral issues or changes with your pet during these years.
Senior. Cats age 11 and over are considered seniors. Some older cats may have trouble with daily activities, such as using the litter box, while others remain active.
Geriatric. Once cats reach 15 years of age or older, they’re considered geriatric. They may need special care and attention, including food and medicine, or careful consideration of where and how litter is placed.
What happens as your cat ages?
As cats age, their bodies and brains change.
Their immune systems may be less able to ward off infections and they may be prone to more health conditions. Veterinary care may become more regular and necessary.
Some personality or behavioral changes you may notice include:
Restlessness: Hearing and vision loss can impact how your cat sleeps. Trouble sleeping may also be a result of cognitive decline or geriatric anxiety.
Less effective grooming: This can lead to hair matting and skin inflammation.
Loss of appetite: This is typically a result of dental disease or a decreased sense of smell.
House-soiling: Your cat may have decreased mobility, making it harder to enter the litter box. It can also be a result of having less control over bathroom habits, perhaps due to bladder disease.
Excessive meowing: This can indicate cognitive decline, hearing loss, or pain.
How to extend your cat’s lifespan
Whether you have a purebred or mixed-breed cat, you can help extend its life by providing adequate nutrition, opportunities for exercise and a safe home.
Here are three specific steps to take to increase your cat’s longevity:
Seek regular veterinary care.
By taking your cat to the vet for regular well-checks, you can keep ahead of any life-threatening illnesses. You can also get important advice from your vet on how to best care for your pet.
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Keep your cat indoors.
One of the biggest factors in determining a cat’s life is whether they live inside and in a safe environment.
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Spay or neuter your cat.
Male cats live as much as 62% longer when they have been neutered. Female cats live as much as 39% longer when they’ve been spayed. Unless you have a specific plan to breed your cat with professional assistance, taking this step is one of the best things you can do for their longevity.
You can also try using an online comparison tool to compare multiple quotes and find the right policy for your cat.
How old are cats in human years?
To better understand the lifespan of a cat and appreciate age-related conditions cats may have, it can be good to compare your pet’s age to the equivalent in human years.
Each cat year is equivalent to many human years. The first 2 years of a cat’s life each account for around 12 human years. That means a cat that’s 1.5 years old is like a teenager. After the first 2 years, a year in a cat’s life is like 4 years in a human life.
Check out the table below to see how old your cat is in human years.
What is the average life expectancy of an indoor cat?
A house cat can have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years when properly cared for. On average, cats that live their lives indoors live around 12 to 17 years.
How long do tabby cats live?
As domestic cats, tabbies have a fairly long lifespan, living as long as 18 years. The average for domestic tabby cats who stay inside most of the time is 12 to 15 years. Tabbies that live outdoors generally have much shorter lifespans.
Which cat breeds live the longest?
In general, mixed-breed cats live to a higher median age. However, breeds such as Balinese, Siamese, Russian Blue, American Shorthair, and Burmese all live longer on average than some other breeds.
Can a cat live for 20 years?
Yes, a cat can live 20 years or more. However, this is not the norm, as the average cat lifespan is 13 to 17 years. Interestingly, the oldest living cat ever recorded lived more than double the average. Creme Puff was 38 years old when he died, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
What age is considered old for a cat?
Your feline companion is typically considered a senior cat when they reach 11 years of age. In “cat years,” that’s equivalent to approximately 60 human years.
Sarah Stasik is an editorial writer and a Six Sigma certified project manager. She is well versed in personal finance thanks to her previous role as a Revenue Cycle Manager for a Fortune 500 healthcare company. Using her inside knowledge and expertise, Sarah often covers topics ranging from insurance and the economics of private healthcare to personal finance and small business management.
Over the past 12 years, Sarah has contributed to numerous publications in the personal and small business finance sector, including content on budgeting, bankruptcy, small business accounting, and financial tech. Her writing focuses on making complex or seemingly daunting financial topics more accessible and providing helpful, relevant resources for readers.
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