Lifespan of Cats - How Long Do Cats Live?
While the average lifespan of a cat is around 15 years, it’s not uncommon to see them reach their late teens and early twenties. Put simply, a number of different factors come into play that decides how long a cat lives, including lifestyle, genetics, breed, and nutrition.
How long have cats been domesticated?
Our feline friends have been living alongside us for thousands of years, first becoming domesticated around 7500 BC in the Near East. Prized for their vermin catching abilities, cats were also venerated in ancient Egypt and their popularity began to spread across the globe.
There are now an estimated 95 million domestic cats in the US and selective breeding over the years has given us around 60 different cat breeds to choose from. These breeds come from four regions, and each one has distinct markers identifying their origin. Most cat breeds originate from Western Europe, the Arabian Sea area, The Eastern Mediterranean, and South Asia.
Do different breeds have different lifespans?
Yes, they do. Siamese cats, in particular, seem to be one of the shorter-lived breeds, averaging just 8 to 12 years. However, some cats have much longer lifespans like the Burmese, Manx, and Savannah cats, all tending to live beyond 15 years.
These aren’t hard and fast rules though and it’ll always be difficult to say exactly how long your cat will live. The average cat lifespan across all breeds, including mixed breed and domestic cats, seems to be around 13 to 17 years.
Can nutrition affect lifespan?
Protein is absolutely vital for cats. Being carnivorous, their diets consist almost exclusively of meat. But making sure they get high quality, nutritious meat and protein is the key to their longevity.
Also, it pays to know that as your cat ages, their diet will need to adapt and change. For example, young kittens are full of energy and need lots of high protein meals to fuel muscle growth. Foods like chicken, fish, and lamb.
As cats get older, you can start to feed them a maintenance diet, one that’s lower in fat, and add foods with high vitamin content. From about 7 years old your cat is considered as starting to approach its more senior years. Here you’ll need to cut sodium and fat and feed your cat smaller meals.
Across all ages, it's essential your cat gets amino acids like methionine, taurine, and cystine. Poultry is a good source of amino acids, and many pet food manufacturers now add these to both dry and wet cat foods.
Other health factors affecting lifespan
Of course, it’s no guarantee that if your cat has a carefully managed and healthy diet that it’ll live to a grand old age. Some cats may have immunodeficiency orders or bad genetics that affect their health.
There is also a wide range of common diseases in cats that can affect their lifespan. Even if you create the perfect diet plan for your cat, it’s still important to have good cat health insurance for peace of mind.
How does lifestyle affect lifespan?
The average cat lifespan at home is around 14 to 17 years, while outdoor cats often only make it to 7 years old. This means that indoor cats live on average twice as long as their outdoor cat counterparts and in many cases, even longer
This is because the outside world poses many more risks to a cat than staying indoors. They could be hurt by wild animals, get hit by traffic, ingest toxins, or pick up an infection, among many other dangers.
Also, outdoor cats are prone to fleas just like indoor ones, and will often need repeat visits to the vet. It can be difficult for some owners to spot health problems in outdoor cats given they don’t see as much of them.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends keeping cats indoors to lessen the risk of injury or illness from the outdoors. However, all cats have their own personalities and some may chafe at being indoors unless acclimatized from a young age. It will ultimately be your decision whether to keep your cat indoors or opt for a combination of the two.
The oldest cat who ever lived
The prize for the world's oldest ever cat goes to Creme Puff. She was a domestic shorthair cat, born in August 1967, and died in August 2005. She made it to a staggering 38 years and 3 days!
Her owner, Jake Perry, had a sometimes unusual diet for her. While Creme Puff mostly ate dried cat food bolstered with eggs and turkey bacon, she was also fed broccoli, eggs, and coffee with cream. Most surprisingly, though, she was given an eyedropper full of red wine every two days!
Creme Puff likely also had amazing genetics, a loving and safe home environment as well as a good dash of luck. We can never say exactly how long our cats will live, but as long as they get the care and attention they need, they should be with us for many years of companions