Cat Lifespan – How Long Do Cats Live?

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  • At a glance

    • The average lifespan of a cat can range from 11 – 15 years and 2 to 5 years for an outdoor cat.
    • One survey which followed 118,016 cats attending 90 practices in England found the average lifespan of a cat is 14 years.
    • Risk factors for death in cats under five was trauma, viral and respiratory disease.
    • The most common cause of death in cats over five years is kidney disease.

    How long do cats live?

    The average lifespan of a domestic cat ranges from 11 to 15 years for indoor cats and 2 to 5 years for outdoor cats. There are a number of factors that will determine how long a cat lives.

    • Lifestyle (indoors/outdoors): Outdoor cats have lower mortality than indoor cats due to dangers from cars, dog attacks, parasites and infectious disease
    • Genetics: Mixed breed cats lived on average 14 years, purebred cats live on average 12.5 years. The Birman, Burmese, Siamese and Persian lived as long as the mixed breed cats. The Bengal, Abyssinian, Ragdoll, Maine Coon and British Shorthair breeds showed reduced longevity.
    • Obesity: Excess weight is linked to several diseases which include cancer, diabetes, arthritis, impaired respiratory function, urinary tract disease, skin disease, oral disease and increased anesthetic risk.
    • Desexing: Cats who were spayed or neutered had 0.6 years greater longevity in females and 1.7 years greater longevity in males. There are several health benefits to cats who are desexed which include eliminating the risk of pyometra, testicular and mammary cancer, and a decreased risk from FIV, FeLV and bite wound abscess.

    Ageing in cats

    A cat is considered senior by the time he or she reaches ten. At this time, it is recommended your cat switch to bi-annual veterinary visits so that any changes can be managed in their early stages.

    • The immune system is not as effective as it was in the younger cat which makes an older cat more vulnerable to disease.
    • Osteoarthritis is a painful condition that occurs when the shock-absorbing cartilage at the ends of the bones starts to wear down and is eventually worn out, which leads to bone rubbing on bone.
    • Mobility becomes an issue due to arthritis, the cat may find it difficult grooming, climbing or jumping.
    • The risk of age-related diseases increases including cancers, hyperthyroidism, cataracts and kidney disease.
    • Claws can become thick and brittle, if they are not trimmed, they may grow long enough to curl into the paw pad.

    Increasing longevity

    Some of the factors at play are within our control and can significantly increase the longevity of our pets. These include:

    • Spay and neuter all cats to eliminate the risk of unwanted kittens, but it also prevents testicular cancer, and greatly reduces the incidence of mammary cancer.
    • Keep cats indoors, or provide access to a safe cat enclosure to keep cats safe from traffic and predators.
    • Keep weight within healthy limits, obesity increases the risk of certain cancers, diabetes and heart disease.
    • Vaccinate all cats against common pathogens responsible for upper respiratory disease.
    • Feed a good-quality diet suitable for the cat’s current life stages.
    • Maintain proper dental care with daily brushing and schedule an annual dental check-up. Dental diseases have a significant impact on the overall health of the cat. The gums have a rich blood supply which can transport bacteria through the entire body via the bloodstream and damage the heart, kidneys and liver.
    • Treat all cats for parasites (worms, fleas and ticks).
    • Schedule annual appointments for a health check and routine bloodwork. This should increase to bi-annual for cats over seven.
    • Seek veterinary attention immediately if you notice any changes such as weight loss, increased thirst or urination, and any lumps and bumps.
    • Provide prompt and appropriate medical care for cats who are sick or have a long-term medical disease.
    • Avoid the over-use of chemicals in the home, switch to cat-friendly products where possible.
    • Microchip your cat, it won’t directly contribute to the lifespan, but if the cat is in an accident, or picked up and taken to a shelter, you can be contacted.

    How old is my cat in human years?

    Cats transition from newborn kittens to adulthood in the first year of life, by the age of three, ageing slows down, and for every year, the cat ages the equivalent of four years.


    Cat age

    Human equivalent
    0-1 month 0-1 year
    2-3 months 2-4 years
    4 months 6-8 years
    6 months 10 years
    7 months 12 years
    12 months 15 years
    18 months 21 years
    2 years 24 years
    3 years 28 years
    4 years 32 years
    5 years 36 years
    6 years 40 years
    7 years 44 years
    8 years 48 years
    9 years 52 years
    10 years 56 years
    11 years 60 years
    12 years 64 years
    13 years 68 years
    14 years 72 years
    15 years 76 years
    16 years 80 years
    17 years 84 years
    18 years 88 years
    19 years 92 years
    20 years 96 years

    World’s oldest cats

    The oldest cat ever was Creme Puff of Austin, Texas was born on 3rd August 1967 and passed away in August 2005 at the age of thirty-eight.

    Author

    • Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio