Serious Question: How Long Do Cats Live? What is the Average Cat Lifespan?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Extending the longevity of your pet is undoubtedly one trait common amongst all pet owners. If you would love to learn more about how long do cats live for? And how you can ensure their longevity, then read on.

Have you Ever Wondered, How Long Do Cats Live for?

There’s a familiar tale you’ve probably heard about—the Nine Lives of a Cat. This common bedtime story has been told by parents for almost a hundred years.  Written by Charles Bennet, this seemingly dark story, tells the tale of a sweet kitty who was able to escape death nine times.

Putting aside the crude humor depicted in this story—wouldn’t it be great if our cats had nine lives? So, if cats don’t have nine lives, how long do cats live for?

Although your feline friend can’t reach a ripe old age of 90 years! They can still live for a pretty long time. Veterinarians and long-time cat enthusiasts state that domestic cats can live up to 16 years old. In fact, many well-cared for felines can live until 19 years old.

There are Many Factors Which Will Influence the Average Lifespan of a Cat

cat owner carrying a senior cat

Answering the question, how long do cats live for, is not as simple as one might think! We need to keep in mind that a lot of factors can influence your cat’s longevity.

Mortality is really just a synonym for death.  For example, if we were to say that cat breed has a high mortality rate, then that means that they have a high death rate.

The study performed in 2015, found that cats will go through two periods in their, where their mortality would be high. This is seen at year 1 (age 1) and year 16 (age 16).

This data suggests that the majority of a given cat population will be more likely to die at 1 and 16 years old. These ages are considered a high-risk period!

Factors that Decrease the Cat Life Expectancy

To understand, how long do cats live for, we have to look at the most common factors that may decrease their lifespan. Now, there are many factors can decrease your feline friends’ mortality. A study performed in 2015 found that the 3 most common causes of death in house cats were renal failure, neoplasia, and non-specific illnesses.

Some other factors that can influence your cats’ longevity include:

  1. The problem with fat cats: Poor nutrition, ad lib feeding, and lack of exercise can all cause your cat to gain weight. While a fat cat may look cute and cuddly, the results of feline obesity can be drastic. Statistics show that an obese cat will have an average life expectancy of 5 to 10 years. This is because obesity puts a cat at risk of developing heart and respiratory problems, as well as diabetes.
  2. To fix or not to fix: An unfixed cat will not live as long as one that is fixed. Studies show that neutering or spaying your furry feline will increase their lifespan! Unfixed cats are at risk of developing testicular cancers, breast tumors, asthma, and abscesses in the future.
  3. Indoors vs Outdoors:  Healthy and active indoor cats will live longer than outdoor cats, as they are less likely to acquire pathogenic diseases.
  4. Purebred vs Mixed: Much evidence suggests that mixed breed animals tend to live longer than their purebred counterparts. This is mainly due to the gene diversity in mixed breeds.

Average Cat Lifespan: How Long do Indoor Cats Live?

If you’ve got an outdoor cat, then your veterinarian has probably already scolded you about keeping cats indoors.

You should listen to your vet!

Indoor cats do indeed live much longer than outdoor. And, it doesn’t take a lot of science to prove it!

Cats kept indoors are generally kept in a clean and safe environment. For the most part, they are less likely to come into contact with deadly pathogens, viruses, and parasites. In addition, they are less likely to encounter a traumatic injury.

Cats who are free to roam the outdoors, are more at risk of contracting deadly pathogens. Viral diseases like— the Feline Calicivirus or the Rabies virus— will be prevalent in other cats or mammals. An outdoor cat who encounters such a virus will undoubtedly, contract these viral diseases.

Aside from viral diseases, outdoor cats also have an increased risk of contracting bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections. For instance, a few diseases an outdoor cat can acquire is:

  • Ringworm (zoonotic disease)
  • Fleas & Ticks
  • Tapeworm from consuming dead mice or rats (zoonotic)
  • Heartworm
  • Salmonella
  • Giardia
  • Campylobacter, and
  • Toxoplasmosis (zoonotic)

Outdoor cats are a lot more likely to come home with—or die—from a severe injury. Cars, other cats, dogs, and even wild animals can all cause injury and death to a cat.

Working Out the Average Cat Lifespan: How Old is My Cat? Cat Years vs Human Years

how old are cats in human years

Trying to figure out your cats’ age can be quite tricky. Often a trained veterinary professional can determine a cats age.

Before we give you some tips on how to tell how old your cat is—in cat years—you will first need to familiarize yourself with their growth cycle.

Female cats become sexually mature when they reach about 80% of their adult weight. Now, this can be anywhere from 6 to 10 months. Males, on the other hand, reach sexual maturity at 5 months of age. During these few months, both male and female cats are considered to be in their teenage years!

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, a cat can be considered a senior when they pass 10 years old.

So, how do we tell how old our cat is?

The best and most trusted way of determining a cats age is by looking at their teeth. Now, if you don’t know the anatomy of the feline jaw, then chances are you won’t be able to determine their age. However, if you do a little anatomy, then here’s how you can tell a cats age.

  • At age 2 to 4 weeks, you will see their baby incisors coming in. And, generally, between 3 to 4 weeks you will be able to see their baby canines coming in.
  • Between 4 to 6 weeks kittens will begin to grow their baby premolars on their bottom jaw. And, at 8 weeks all teeth will come in.
  • By 4 months of age, your kitten will have its permanent incisors come in. And, at 5 to 7 months of age, all permanent teeth will come in.
  • A 1-year-old cat will have clean pearly whites! They will not have tartar build-up or plaque formation. However, by 2 years old, their teeth may have a dull yellow.
  • From 3 to 6 years old, a cat will have worn out teeth. They may show evidence of tartar and plaque buildup!
  • Finally, cats who are 10 to 15 years old may demonstrate missing teeth, gum disease, bad breath, or even severe plaque build up.

Longest Living Pets: Meet the Oldest Cat in the World

Sometimes, some kitties do get nine lives. There is an incredible list of feline friends who’ve made their owners proud, by winning the Guinness World Book of Records for the Worlds Oldest Cat!

So, who are these famous cats that were able to live for so long?

  1. Creme Puff: A mixed breed kitty born in 1967 was able to reach the ripe old age of 38 years old.
  2. Baby: A sweet black cat born in 1970 was able to reach 38 years old too!
  3. Puss: A loveable tabby cat born in 1903 passed away in November 1939. This furry old girl was 36 years old!

Today, Rubble is considered the Worlds Oldest Cat alive. Rubble the cat is currently 31 years old!

How Old Do Cats Live? Cat Breeds with the Shortest to Longest Lifespan

ginger domestic old cat resting on couch

You’ve likely already heard that a mixed breed cat is much more likely to live a longer life, compared to a purebred.

But, have you ever wondered why?

Heterosis is a term geneticist use to explain why moggies (aka mixed breeds) live longer than purebreds.  Now, heterosis is actually quite a complicated scientific theory to understand. So, to keep things simple, we’ll describe how it plays a role in your cats’ genetics.

Outcrossing is a practice where a breeder will introduce a new gene into the breeding pool. For example, the Toyger cat was created by mixing a Bengal cat with a domestic tabby.

The act of introducing new genes into an already narrow gene pool would mean the breeder is increasing the genetic diversity. It is almost like the law of probability!

The more diverse genes you have in an animal, the less likely are the chances on them inheriting a medical disorder.

Now that we understand how long do cats live for let’s look more specifically at the lifespan of pedigree cat breeds.

Cat Breeds According to their Lifespan

  1. Although a purebred, the Birman cat has an average lifespan of 16 years
  2. The Siamese, Burmese, and Persian cats have a lifespan of 14 years
  3. The British Shorthair and Maine Coon have an average lifespan of 11 to 12 years.
  4. The Ragdoll and Abyssinian have an average lifespan of 10 years.

So, How Long do Domestic Cats Live for?

So, to finally answer the question–how long do cats live for— you will have to consider many factors such as breed, environment, health, and personal finance. Nevertheless, it is widely accepted that most cats can live easily into their early teens.

old cats on walking canes

Common Questions on How Long Do Cats Live?

How long do house cats live?

What is considered old age for a cat and the average domestic cat lifespan?

What shortens a cat’s lifespan?

All product and Company names are Trademarks™ or Registered® trademarks of their respective holders.

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase CertaPet.com may earn a commission. Keep in mind that we link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission we receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

    >