How Long Do Cats Live? Average and Maximum Life Expectancy

This is something cat owners don’t want to think about: One day, your cat will die.

But how much time do you have with your furry little friend? You understand that there are no guarantees, but on average, how long will your cat live? What’s the best scenario?

We’ll answer all of these questions and more below.

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What is the Average Age of a Cat?

Before we can answer this question, we have to ask one of our own: Are cats going to live their lives indoors or outdoors?

This simple fact will have a tremendous effect on a cat’s lifespan. The simple fact is that outdoor cats don’t live nearly as long as indoor cats — in fact, they do live half as long on average. Indoor cats often live to about 14 years, while cats that spend time outdoors only live 2 to 5 years.

There are too many things in the big world outside your door that can kill your cat, from cars and predators to eating something they shouldn’t. If you want your cat to live as long as possible, you shouldn’t let her out.

That doesn’t mean that every indoor cat will give you 14 years, of course. Your cat’s lifespan will depend on the breed, how well they were cared for, and their genetic history.

Likewise, you may have a tough old cat who lives outdoors and lives to be 20 years old. There are no guarantees in this regard, but it is possible at work, and it is likely that your indoor cats will outlast their outdoor counterparts.

Siamese Domestic Cat Seal Point

What is the Maximum Age of a Cat?

It is very rare to find a cat that lives more than 20 years. It was similar to a human living to be 100 years old — it was bound to happen, but don’t count on it.

That said, there are cats that have flown past the 20 year mark. As far as we know, the oldest cat that ever lived was a mixed breed named Crème Puff who died at the age of 38, which is the same as a human who lives about 170 years.

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What is the secret of Crème Puff? His owner, Jake Perry, says he feeds him a dry meal that comes with turkey, broccoli, coffee (with cream) and the occasional dropper full of red wine. You won’t find many cat experts recommending such a diet, but then again, you won’t find many cats who live to be 38.

You shouldn’t rely on your cat to live that long, of course, but it represents the outer limits of what we are know what a cat can do.

Which breeds live the longest and which are the shortest?

Surprisingly enough, there isn’t much reliable data on this. Different sources will give different answers, but breeds that are usually cited as living the longest include the Siamese, Burmese, Balinese, and American Shorthair.

It should be noted, however, that mixed breeds often live longer than pure breeds. We wouldn’t be surprised if a mix of any of the above breeds outlived all of them.

On the other side of the spectrum, there is no definitive answer to the “cat with the shortest life span” question. Usually, however, Manx, Singaporean and Munchkin cats all have a fairly short lifespan, as they rarely live more than 14 years.

This life span assumes that the cat is kept indoors and well cared for. If you let your cats roam outside or feed them fast food and never give them any exercise, their life expectancy will decrease.

white munchkin cat

How Long Is a Cat’s Year Compared to a Human Year?

The short rule is that one human year equals 5 cat years. If you’re in a pinch, it will give you a pretty good estimate of how old your cat would be if they were humans.

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This is of course not a perfect indicator. Cats mature much faster than humans, and cats will reach adulthood at around 18 months. As a result, 6 months for a kitten can equal 10 years for a person.

However, as the cat matures, the difference slows down dramatically. After a cat is 2 years old, each year becomes the equivalent of about 4 human years for the rest of the cat’s life.

What is considered old age for cats?

It depends on who you ask and it varies from one type to another. If you own a short-lived breed, such as the Manx, the cat can be considered old at 7 or 8 years of age. On the other hand, races like Balinese may not grow old until they are 14 or 15 years old.

Most people think of cats as “seniors” after they turn 11 years old. However, the numbers are not as important as the cat’s behavior, and a better rule is that the cats become seniors once they start to slow down.

As long as your cat is active and alert, you shouldn’t think of him as old or weak. Because of this, we still recommend having your cat checked after they are 11 years old, and you should also consider switching to a senior cat food around that time.

old and shabby cat

Do Most Cats Die Of Old Age?

First, “to die of old age” is not a thing, at least as far as veterinarians are concerned. A cat that dies in old age will die because something, and something that won’t turn the pages on the calendar. Dying of old age usually means they die of a natural disease, such as heart disease or cancer, when they are very old.

Even with that clarification, this question is difficult to answer. It depends on the level of cat care.

If your cat spends most of their time outside, then no, they won’t die of old age. Unfortunately, outdoor cats often die violently, usually from being hit by a car or being eaten by a predator.

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Indoor cats have much better prospects. Most indoor cats die from something like kidney disease, heart disease, or cancer, and this usually happens in the later stages of their life.

How Can I Make Sure My Cat Lives As Long As Possible?

We advise you to keep your cat inside. That alone would double their life expectancy.

Beyond that, diet is usually the most important consideration. Feed your cat a healthy, balanced diet, and strictly control portions. Fat cats suffer a nearly threefold increase in mortality compared to their leaner counterparts.

You should also make sure they have plenty of exercise and stimulation. This will not only help them stay lean, it will also exercise their brains, ensuring that they stay sharp into their senior years.

Take your cat for regular checkups as well, especially once they’ve crossed the all-important 11-year threshold. Semi-annual checkups will allow your veterinarian to monitor his health and spot any problems early.

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How long? Yours Live Cat?

While we can’t promise how long your cat will live, the good news is that you have significant power in determining your cat’s lifespan. If you keep your cats indoors, feed them well, and give them exercise, there’s no reason your cat can’t live 14 years or more.


Featured Image Credit: jojosmb, Shutterstock