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How long do cats live?

A cat sits in a suitcase advice

The average lifespan of a cat is around 14 years old.

© Unsplash

A cat doesn't actually have nine lives, although it is considered to be a lucky, plucky animal that on occasion will cheat death. However, it cannot hold off the Grim Reaper for ever, and one day our beloved moggy will surely pass away.

By Nick Whittle

Published on the 30/08/2020, 14:00

When that day will be is anybody’s guess, but certain factors such as health issues, diet and behaviour determine the lifespan of a cat.

Several factors (including whether the animal has been neutered) determine how long a cat will live for. We look now at the importance of a cat’s maintaining a healthy weight (with YOUR help), and the dangers of outdoor living. There is always a way to extend your cat's life!

What is the average life expectancy of an indoor cat?

Here in the UK the average lifespan of a cat is around 14 years, according to the Royal Veterinary College. A study carried out in 2015 looked into the death statistics of over 4000 cats and yielded the conclusion that cats on average will live about the same number of years as a toy dog.

The College also discovered that crossbreed cats lived for longer than purebreds, the latter dying at around 12.5 years old. The study also revealed that some cats may live until they are 20 years old.

Should you adopt an older cat? Read our advice about adopting a senior cat

How long do cats live as a pet?

The domestic cat - if looked after and kept safe - will live until it is about 14 years old. Some breeds of cat live longer than others but on the whole we may expect to lose our furry feline friends between the ages of 12 and 15. The Siamese and Manx cats are thought to be the longest lived of all domestic felines.

What is a good age for a cat?

If we take the average of our cat’s longevity to be about 13 or 14 years, we may consider anything in the region of that to be a ‘good age’. Cats are unusual in that respect due to the fact that naturally a small animal will live a shorter life than a big animal. Despite being smaller than the average dog, some cats have been known to live to the ripe old age of 30! 

How long do UK cats live?

Generally speaking, the outdoor cat - the cat that spends a lot of its time outside - will live a shorter life than an indoor cat. Here in the UK we tend to let our cats wander outside quite a lot. In fact, over 90% of domestic cats in the UK are thought to be allowed to roam freely outside.

How to choose between an indoor cat or outdoor cat?

In so being free to do what they want, UK cats are more at risk of road traffic accidents, dog attacks and human interference than cats that are kept indoors safe and sound. That being said, our cats will still live to the age of about 12 years.

Do female cats live longer than male cats?

Yes. On average, female cats live around one to two years longer than male cats. Furthermore, neutered cats of either gender live longer than complete cats because neutering halts the body’s production of certain hormones responsible for premature death. Additionally, a neutered cat is far less likely to roam the streets than a complete cat. 

Do indoor cats live longer UK?

Indoor cats live longer than outdoor cats; they live on average until they are almost 17 years old. There are several reasons for this:

  • We are more likely to neuter an indoor cat.
  • We are more likely to vaccinate an indoor cat.
  • Indoor cats are not prone to outdoor dangers.
  • Indoor cats are more closely monitored by their owners.
  • Indoor cats are not prone to the stresses of outdoor living.

A problem arising from being indoors a lot of the time however is our propensity to put on weight. Whether we are human or feline, if we do not undertake adequate daily exercise we will get fat, and with that comes a whole host of physical conditions that could limit our lifespan.

Does your older cat struggle to eat? Read our advice about feeding an older cat

How old is a 13 year old cat in human years?

There are lots of different ways to compare your cat’s age to that of a human. Of dogs we still tend to use the 7-year rule (although this is only a way to produce a rough estimate of age). Of cats, the formulae are a little more complicated but no less interesting.

A 13 year old cat is thought to be around 68 years old in human years. 

In reality, breed, weight and lifestyle muddy the waters of an accurate age comparison, but it is nevertheless a helpful guide.

Is 17 years old good for a cat?

Cats live longer than they used to. Better nutrition and veterinary care are responsible for their living longer lives. A domestic cat is now considered to be elderly once it reaches its 11th birthday. Cats aged between 11 and 14 years are senior cats and those upwards of 15 are geriatric. There are foods especially designed for cats of all ages, catering for the demands of their aging bodies.

Which cat holds the record for being the oldest ever?  

The Guinness World Records lists a 38 year-old cat as being the oldest that ever lived. Crème Puff was a domestic shorthaired cat that was fed upon a strange diet that included asparagus and eggs.

The cat was born in 1967 and died in 2005 in Austin, Texas. To this day there is no reason given as the secret of her long life, but the care and attention afforded by her owner will have played a large part.

Is your cat elderly? Here is some advice about caring for a senior cat

As your cat gets older it will need more love and attention, and as it reaches the geriatric stage of its life it will need love and patience. No-one lives for ever and we can only wish that the people and animals we love did so. We can however stem the inevitable by providing our pets with a secure and stable homestead devoid of stresses and dangers.

Think about your house in terms of your elderly cat. Can she access stairs freely? Does she need help to climb stairs, or to eat and drink? Just as you may for an elderly relative you must make adjustments to your home and your attitude to ensure that the last few years of their life are comfortable and happy.

Frequently asked questions

Is my cat sick or just old?

Should I have an indoor cat or outdoor cat?

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