How Long Do Cats Live? Average Lifespan of Domestic Cats

How long do domestic cats live?

  • Indoor cats – 9 to 15 years
  • Outdoor cats – 5.6 years

Statistics indicate that the lifespan of an indoor cat is much longer than an outdoor cat.  The life expectancy of outdoor cats is lower due to a higher risk of disease, car accidents and injury or death from predators.

Indoor cats live on average between 9 – 15 years, which in human terms is between 53 and 77 years of age. It is estimated that 20% of cats in the USA are now living beyond 11 years of age. However, some cats can live beyond that. Siamese cats, in particular, are known for their longevity, and it is not uncommon for them to live into their 20’s.

Increasing longevity in cats

Improved nutrition, advancements in veterinary care and the move towards keeping cats indoors mean that the average domestic cat is living longer. Cat owners can increase the longevity of cats in many ways:

  • Nutrition: Feed your cat a good quality, well-balanced diet according to the cat’s age.
  • Vaccinate: Low-risk cats should be vaccinated every 1 – 3 years and high-risk such as cats who free roam may need to be vaccinated more frequently.
  • Keep your cat healthy: This includes regular treatment for parasites such as worms and fleas. Regular veterinary check-ups (at least once a year) are vital to check the health of your cat and pick up diseases and health issues early.
  • Monthly health checks: Pet owners should check their cat once a week from head to tail which can potentially pick up diseases between annual veterinary visits.
  • Watch for changes: The monthly health check is a useful tool to pick up diseases early, but it is important for pet owners to watch for other changes such as loss of appetite, increased thirst, lethargy, changes in behaviour, changes in litter box habits, blood in the urine, loose stools, infrequent stools, rapid weight loss or gain, lumps and bumps, wounds which do not heal.
  • Dental care: Unhealthy teeth and gums have a more significant impact on the body than just causing bad breath, pain, and infection. As the gums have a rich blood supply, bacteria are readily transported to other organs (such as the liver, kidneys etc.) in the body causing damage and even organ failure.
  • Genetic diversity: One UK paper found that crossbred cats had a longer lifespan than purebred cats, with an average lifespan of 14 years vs 12.5.

Signs of ageing in cats

Your cat may become less playful as he ages and spend more time sleeping.

Weight loss is quite common in older cats; this should never be put down to just aging; there is always a cause of weight loss, which should be investigated. Common causes include diabetes, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease and cancer, which are all common diseases that can affect middle-aged to older cats.

Arthritis is a common disease that can creep up on older cats which occurs when the joints degenerate. Symptoms include limping, reluctance to put weight on one leg, stiffness, particularly when waking and reluctance to jump.

Oldest cat ever

The Guinness World Records named Creme Puff of Austin Texas as the world’s oldest feline. Creme Puff was born on August 3rd, 1967 and passed away in August 2005, which made him 38 years old at his time of death.

Also, deserving mention is Puss, who was born in 1903. Puss was owned by Mrs T. Holway of Devon. Puss passed away on 29th November 1939, one day after his 36th birthday.

The second is Granpa who lived to the ripe old age of 34. Granpa Rexs Allen (Granpa for short) was a Sphynx adopted from the Humane Society in Texas.

How old is my cat in human years?

Cat years Human equivalent
6 months 10 years
12 months 15 years
2 years 25 years
3 years 29 years
4 years 33 years
5 years 37 years
6 years 41 years
7 years 45 years
8 years 49 years
9 years 53 years
10 years 57 years
11 years 61 years
12 years 65 years
13 years 69 years
14 years 73 years
15 years 77 years
16 years 81 years
17 years 85 years
18 years 89 years
19 years 93 years
20 years 97 years
21 years 101 years
22 years 105 years
23 years 109 years
24 years 113 years
25 years 117 years

Frequently asked questions

When is a cat considered old age for a cat? 

A cat is considered elderly from 11 years and cats are geriatric at 15.

Can a cat live for 20 years?

Yes, many cats live up to 20 years and beyond.

Do cats know they’re going to die? 

Cats do not know they are going to die, but they do know they feel unwell.

Do cats go away to die? 

No cats don’t intentionally go away to die. As cats are vulnerable to larger predators, a sick cat is hardwired to hide if he or she is feeling unwell to prevent opportunistic predators. This explains why some cats may hide when they are dying and may pass away during this time.

Do cats prefer to die alone? 

This depends on the cat and their relationship with their family. Most cats who are bonded to their humans will benefit from company during their final moments.

Why do older cats get so skinny? 

Weight loss in senior cats is common and can be attributed to chronic kidney disease, cancer and hyperthyroidism which are the most common diseases to affect senior cats.

How do I know if my cat is suffering?

Cats are extremely stoic and it can be hard to know if they are suffering. Typically, a cat who is in pain or feels sick will display the following signs:

  • Inappetance or a complete loss of appetite
  • Hiding
  • Dilated pupils
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of interest in surroundings
  • Sleeping more

Julia Wilson 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. She enjoys photography, gardening and running in her spare time. Full author bio Contact Julia