|TL;DR: Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for domestic cats to reach their second decade, but they usually live to around 15 — 20 years old. |
It comes down to how their owner approaches diet, healthcare and neutering in their cat’s six life stages. It also depends on whether the cat leads an indoor-only life. Indoor life is safer than outdoor life because the environment is consistent and there are no predators or cars.
However, keeping cats indoors can be tricky if they are energetic or explorative. Balancing safety with stimulation is the best way to keep your cat safe and happy long-term.
It can be painful to imagine a life without your pet cat. We want to love and be loved by our precious felines forever. However, the average lifespan of pets and humans differs significantly.
You may wonder – what can I do to extend the life of my beloved cat? In this article, we’ll learn how long cats can live and explore what we can do as pet owners to help them live longer.
A Cat’s Lifespan
Like the U.S. human population, the U.S. cat population is aging. Healthcare is advancing, and longevity is improving. Many of us have access to vaccines, proper nutrition and therapeutic agents that previous generations did not.
Cats with access to these resources have an increased life expectancy. They are routinely living to 15 years of age and some surpassing 20.
|🥇 World Record: |
The record for the oldest cat belongs to Creme Puff, who lived 38 years and three days. She passed away on the 6th of August, 2005, at her home in Texas, USA.
Indoor VS Outdoor Cats: Which Live Longer?
Indoor cats typically reach 13-17 years but can surpass 20 years. For outdoor cats, you can anticipate a shorter lifespan, which could encounter vehicles or dog attacks.
Outdoor cats are also more likely to catch viruses, including Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia. They can catch these viruses from fighting or merely being in contact with another infected cat.
Outdoor cats can also be exposed to infectious diseases and parasites (fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites) via other wildlife.
Freedom comes with a price — if you let your cat roam unsupervised whenever they like, their average life expectancy is cut in half.
How To Help Your Cat Live Longer As They Age
While preventing aging is impossible, you can do a few things to increase the chances of a long life. From birth to old age, cats undertake a six-stage development journey. Responding to their changing needs will give them a greater chance of a long, healthy life.
Stage 1: Kitten (up to 6 months)
At the beginning of their life, kittens simply sleep and wriggle — relying on their mother (or human guardian) for warmth, food, baths and toileting. Wriggling turns into crawling, walking and then climbing. Kittens go through a dramatic growth spurt in their first six months.
|🐱 Cat Tip: This stage is a great time to introduce your kitten to new things: other pets, children, noise and being brushed, handled and stroked. You’ll also want to neuter your kitten during this stage to prevent unwanted litters.|
Stage 2: Junior (6 months – 2 years)
During their ‘teenager phase,’ your cat will shed its baby features and grow longer and taller. It will reach adulthood and sexual maturity. Junior cats also explore their surroundings and test boundaries. You can teach them where these boundaries lie, especially when playing.
|🐱 Cat Tip: Use toys to play with your cat instead of rough-and-tumble games. Teach them what is okay and what is too rough.|
Stage 3: Prime (3 – 6 years)
At this stage, your cat grows out of its lanky body and into a healthy, full-sized cat. They will settle into their true personality, which might be more relaxed. Keep an eye on weight gain or obesity.
|🐱 Cat Tip: Keep up to date with vaccinations, health checks and vet visits. Remember, indoor cats need vaccinations too.|
Stage 4: Mature (7 – 10 years)
Mature cats start to slow down and sleep more often but still have zest. Tailor your cat’s diet to their activity levels. Otherwise, they could become overweight or obese, leading to other conditions like severe arthritis or diabetes.
Take your cat to the vet for regular check-ups — catching problems early will give them the best chance at a long life!
|🐱 Cat Tip: Carefully monitor food consumption to ensure your cat eats appropriately per their activity levels.|
Stage 5: Senior (11 -14 years)
Senior cats spend more time sleeping and less time playing. However, they still need mental stimulation. Occupy them using toys or a food puzzle. Here your cat is more at risk of developing cancer or thyroid, heart, kidneys and joint issues.
Regular vet appointments are essential during this stage.
|🐱 Cat Tip: Keep your cat occupied by providing an enriched environment. Whether it’s different heights, textures or toys, variety is a good idea.|
Stage 6: Geriatric (15 years and older)
Geriatric cats prioritize peace, quiet and a warm spot to sleep. You must monitor them closely and see a vet with any concerns. Cats are notoriously clever at hiding ailments, so pay close attention.
|🐱 Cat Tip: Look for changes in food/water intake, breathing, coat, lumps/bumps, physicality, bathroom tendencies, grooming ability and vocal expression.|
When you share a special bond with a cat, it’s a priority to keep them happy and healthy. A long, comfortable life is the dream for any feline, purebred or rescue. Keeping your cat indoors and observing their behavior can improve its lifespan. They attend to their mental and physical needs, from play to diet, as they age.
Provide your kitty with a safe, healthy environment; they might be around longer than you think.
Bellows, J et al. (2016). Aging In Cats: Common Physical And Functional Changes. journals.sagepub.com
Guinness World Records. Oldest Cat Ever. guinnessworldrecords.com
United States Census Bureau. (2018). The Graying of America: More Older Adults Than Kids by 2035. census.gov
Vets Now. (2021). How Long Do Cats Live? vets-now.com