It's no shock that pet parents want to know what’s the average lifespan of a house cat so they can gauge how long their adored feline friend will be around. Knowing the lifespan of your feline can help you understand what stage of life your cat is in and give you some emotional readiness as they get older.
While no one can say exactly how long a cat’s lifespan is, statistics can give a general answer to the question, how long do cats live? Several different factors also play into the years your cat is around, such as breed and if they're an indoor or outdoor cat. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that play into how long you can expect your feline friend to be around!
Average lifespan of a house cat
A common question cat parents have when deciding if they should let their cats explore the great outdoors is, do indoor cats live longer? According to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the average lifespan of a house cat is 10 to 15 years, while outdoor cats may only live on average 2 to 5 years. While every cat is different, indoor cats generally live longer due to fewer threats in their environment.
Breed and genetics can impact a cat’s lifespan
Breed and genetic makeup can impact a cat’s lifespan, just like it can influence their size, coat, and physical attributes. Purebred cats are known to have a shorter life expectancy than mixed breeds due to selective breeding. And some cats can inherit health problems passed down from their parents due to breeding or genetics.
Lifespans of common cat breeds
While pet parents always wish their fur babies would stick around longer, cats have a much faster metabolic rate than humans—so one year of our life is equivalent to several years of our cats’ lives. However, some breeds do tend to live longer than others.
If your goal is to get the most quality time with your cat, consider choosing a mixed breed (or “moggy,” also known as a domestic shorthair or domestic longhair). “Hybrid vigor,” or a combination of the best genetic material arising from a diverse gene pool, often leads to a lower risk for inherited diseases and common medical conditions found in purebred animals.
Factors that increase your house cat’s life expectancy
Why do indoor cats live so much longer? In part, their lives are longer because house cats live in much safer conditions. Additionally, there are other preventative measures you can take to potentially keep your cat around longer, from diet and vet visits to their daily activities. Here are ways you can add years to your cat’s life!
Routine vet visits
In the early years of your cat’s life, you should take them to the vet at least once a year. When your furry feline is a senior cat, take them to the vet at least twice per year, or every six months. If your cat is geriatric or has a chronic medical condition, you may want to take them to the vet three times per year.
Checkups should consist of physical exams, vaccinations, and blood work. A vet will be able to perform lab work as well as take X-rays to determine any health problems going on with your pet. Even if your cat seems to be in good health, being proactive with general care is important to prevent any serious health issues.
Spaying or neutering your cat
Cats that are spayed or neutered typically live longer lives and are at less risk of contracting certain diseases, so it’s a good idea to get your cat fixed as early as possible. On top of potentially keeping your pet around longer, you can play your part in lowering cat overpopulation—dosomething.org estimates there are 70 million stray cats in the United States.
Feeding your cat a healthy individualized diet
It’s important to feed your cat a diet of quality food with balanced nutrients. Just like humans, a diet high in appropriate nutrients will help your cat stay healthy and live a longer life. Be sure to check with your vet to find out if your cat needs any special type of food. The type of food you should be feeding them can vary based on their life stage and any type of medical condition. Also, you should be mindful of how many treats they consume.
If you’re concerned about your cat’s eating habits, consider an automatic feeder like the Feeder-Robot. That way, you can track their meals and automate feedings to make things easier on yourself. Be mindful of refilling your cat’s feeder and cleaning it often.
Exercise and playtime
Exercise and play are known to help to reduce and prevent stress, which ultimately leads to a happier and healthier cat. Cats need to be able to tap into their natural instincts like hunting, pouncing, and interacting. The perfect way to help your cat express their needs to exercise and play is with a cat pyramid! The cat pyramid by Whisker provides your cat with multiple levels to jump, climbing holes, and sisal scratch pads.
If you have a kitten, be mindful not to overstimulate them during playtime. Kittens can become aggressive towards humans or other animals if they get too worked up.
Interactive play also helps cats express their natural instincts and provides mental stimulation. Give your cat toy balls, plush or catnip mice, teaser toys, or a laser pointer to provide entertainment.
The rechargeable laser pointer by Whisker will provide mental stimulation and entertainment for your cat. Make sure if you use a teaser toy or laser pointer that you give your cat something tangible to “kill” and “eat” at the end of the chase, such as a catnip toy or a few treats.
Proper cat housing
Proper support from bedding will help relieve pressure on your cat's joints. As your cat ages, relieving pressure may be vital to their comfort. The memory foam bed by Whisker provides spacious and supportive bedding for your cat. And it’s easy to clean with the pet-safe cleaner spray or wipes.
Brushing your cat regularly will help keep them from consuming too much hair when they groom themselves, avoiding digestive issues and hairballs. It will also allow you to get familiar with your cat’s body and recognize any new lumps, bumps, or sore spots.
Make sure your cat gets regular teeth cleanings to remove plaque and keep their mouths healthy. Dental or oral disease can result in bacteria being channeled through the body, which can lead to serious health issues. Remember to wipe away discharge around the eyes and nose, and trim your cat's nails regularly.
Common diseases for house cats
Another key factor in answering what’s the average lifespan of a house cat is being able to identify and address common diseases, like diabetes or feline lower urinary tract disease. It’s a good idea to educate yourself on common diseases your cat could contract to help with prevention and to diagnose them as soon as possible if signs of illness occur. When you know what symptoms to look for, you’ll be able to take your pet to the vet for treatment.
What to expect as your cat ages
As your cat enters their elderly years, you’ll start to notice changes in their physiology as well as their behavior. Physical changes may include reduced ability to taste, smell food, and digest fat and proteins. They may also experience reduced hearing, lower immune function, skin elasticity, and stress intolerance. You may even notice your elderly cat isn’t as active or is having accidents outside of the litter box—which could be a sign of arthritis.
Additionally, behavioral changes can include spending less time playing, sleeping for longer periods, reduced or picky appetite, and less frequent grooming.
Help your cat have a happy, healthy life for years to come
Finally, it's important to maintain a clean litter box to keep your cat healthy. Scooping litter should be part of your daily cat care rituals. It will keep your house smelling fresh, help you notice any changes in bowel or urinary habits, and help reduce accidents outside of the litter box.
Don’t have time to scoop litter daily? Solve your problem easily with the Litter-Robot 3 Connect! This self-cleaning litter box will separate waste from the clean litter after your cat exits. When you download the app, you’ll be able to effortlessly monitor your cat's waste habits with updates sent right to your phone.
The average lifespan of a house cat is different for every situation. But following these guidelines can help your cat live a longer, healthier, and happier life!
The oldest cat ever recorded was named Cream Puff and hailed from Austin, Texas. Cream Puff was born on August 3rd, 1967, and lived for three days past her 38th birthday, passing away on August 6th, 2005.
While there is no definitive answer to that, it's believed that over time the amount of massive variation of breeds within the canine species produced more complications in the animals and faster growth rates. Cats' genetics have been altered very little throughout history.
Indoor cats can live much longer lives than outdoor cats due to less exposure to diseases, trauma, and predators. Outdoor cats are subject to more external threats than indoor cats.
Cover photo by Madalyn Cox on Unsplash