The average lifespan of a cat can range from 11 – 15 years, but many factors determine just how long a cat will live. One survey which followed 118,016 cats attending 90 practices in England found the average lifespan of a cat is 14 years. The most common causes of death in cats under five was trauma, followed by viral disease and respiratory disease and the most common cause of death in cats over five years was kidney disease.
Related: How old is a cat in human years?
The survey highlights several factors which can increase or decrease the lifespan of cats; these include the following:
- 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, while 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.
What happens as a cat ages?
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 its 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.
How to increase 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
- Keep cats indoors, or provide access to a safe cat enclosure
- Keep weight within healthy limits
- Vaccinate all cats
- Schedule daily exercise
- Feed a good-quality diet
- Provide a stress-free environment
- 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 bloodwork, which 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
World’s oldest cats
Oldest cat ever: Creme Puff of Austin, Texas was born on 3rd August 1967 and passed away in August 2005 at the age of thirty-eight.