More than likely, you have heard the age-old adage, “cats have nine lives”. Sadly, this is simply a myth. However, for centuries the mystery of the cat has bewitched and intrigued us. Greek and Egyptian cultures historically worshiped felines as gods. William Shakespeare even mentioned their nine lives in the timeless tragedy Romeo and Juliet, originally written in 1594. Nevertheless, it all stems from cats uncanny ability to “cheat death”. Unfortunately, cats, like all living creatures, only have one life to live. Without a doubt, we all want long, healthy lives for the cherished feline friends in our lives. So, what exactly is the lifespan of a cat? How long do cats live?
How Long Do Cats Live?
Naturally, all cats are different and there are dozens of factors that shape the length of your feline’s life. However, on average, cats live between ten and fifteen years. While, yes, many cats live well past the age of fifteen, the previously stated average is taking into account all the fallen felines who sadly succumb to disease or get hit by a car at a young age.
Furthermore, certain breeds have more impressive lifespans than others. For example, the American Shorthair cat has the longest average lifespan of fifteen to twenty years. Burmese and Siamese cats also have, on average, longer lives than most breeds. On the other hand, the Sphinx, known for it’s hairless, wrinkly body, also tend to have a shorter life ranging from about eight to twelve years. We will discuss further other factors that shape varying feline age ranges later in this article.
Cat Years vs. Human Year
While there is no exact scientific measure to quantify a cat’s age in “human years”, it is believed that one cat year is roughly equal to four “human years”. However, the first two years of a cats life are to be counted as twenty-five “human years” due to the fact that cats mature much more quickly than humans do. So, if your cat is seven years old, for example, they are roughly forty-five in human years. If math is not your strong suit, Purina has developed a handy cat-age calculator.
Cat Maturity vs. Human Maturity
Why is it that cats and dogs mature so much more quickly than humans? Well, consider the gestation period and early development. Cats, for example, are in their mother’s bellies for a mere 66 days and require only a few weeks worth of attention before becoming fully independent. Humans, on the other hand, have a gestation period of 280 days and as we know, human babies require years of attention before becoming self-reliant. Therefore, a cat that is merely one year old is considered to be roughly fifteen in human years.
How To Tell How Old A Cat Is
First of all, the younger the cat, the easier it is to pinpoint their age. There are a variety of factors that can help determine a cat’s age within a reasonable margin of error.
On average, healthy kittens gain about one pound per month until they are about four to six months old. Therefore, it can be concluded that a four-pound kitten is four months old. However, if the kitten is in poor health, size and weight cannot be a reliable indication of the cat’s age.
Regarding cats of a more mature age, weight is not an accurate factor in determining age. However, based on the cat’s overall bone structure and size, you may be able to guess if they are a kitten, an adolescent, or fully grown.
In terms of kittens, baby (aka deciduous) teeth start forming as early as two weeks and continue until they are roughly eight weeks old. At four months, these baby teeth begin to fall out and adult teeth start breaking through. Finally, at six months old, a cat should have all of its adult teeth. Admittedly, after all the adult teeth have formed, it is difficult to determine age from teeth. However, while difficult, it is not impossible!
Tartar buildup and general wear and tear on teeth can help give us a vague idea of feline age in older cats. Cats one to two years old typically display smaller amounts of tartar, more prevalent along the sides of the cat’s mouth. Simply put, less tartar equals younger cat. Conversely, more tartar typically means the cat is a bit older.
With the help of a trained vet and an ophthalmoscope, you can sometimes use cat’s eyes to help pinpoint age. Cats’ eyes become denser and cloudier around the age of six or seven. Furthermore, this cloudiness is not visible to the naked eye until cats reach about ten years of age.
Notably clean and meticulous creatures, you can actually use a cat’s grooming habits to help determine age. Young cats are more prone to keeping their coats well tended to, while older cats become less likely/able to keep up with their self-care routines. As cats age, grooming becomes harder and sometimes even painful. Dental issues, arthritis, and excess weight are all factors that make sometimes make grooming harder for older cats.
Furthermore, grooming as an aging tool is best used on cats with medium to long hair.
A skilled veterinarian can draw from a number of general health traits to help determine the age of a cat. Certain diseases, for example, only affect cats of a certain age.
At the end of the day, often times, you simply have to make an educated guess as to a cat’s age if you are unsure of the birth date.
How Long Do Indoor Cats Live
Typically, indoor cats have been known to live almost three times as long as outdoor cats. Indoor cats have an average life expectancy of about sixteen and a half years, with many living up to twenty years. Naturally, there are a variety of factors that shape this statistic.
Namely, indoor cats are better cared for than outdoor cats. They get their shots, they receive medical help if and when a problem arises, and they are consistently fed healthy food and clean water. Generally speaking, indoor cats live long, stress-free lives spent sleeping and giving their owners the occasional cuddle.
Ailments of Indoor Cats
Despite better living conditions, indoor cats are still prone to a myriad of issues like all cats. Feline cancer, diabetes, parasites, and fleas are all possible ailments of the indoor cat, to name a few. However, the biggest issue facing indoor cats is actually obesity. Cats are natural born hunters that use agility and instincts to chase and capture their food. Indoor cats, on the other hand, generally do not have to work for their food and because of this, typically get less exercise. Overeating and no exercise are two factors that often lead to obesity.
How To Lengthen Your Indoor Cat’s Life
Naturally, we all want our cats to live full, healthy, long lives. Luckily, there are a few tips and tricks you can incorporate to your cat’s lifestyle that could add years to their life.
Diet and Nutrition
If you are the proud owner of an indoor cat, be sure to keep an eye on their weight and overall nutrition. Monitor their food intake, and only give them healthy, nutrition-packed options. Always be diligent about reading the ingredients on your feline’s food. Additionally, be sure to switch up their primary protein source every few months so they don’t develop food allergies. Better yet, consider feeding your cat a raw food diet. While there are several raw food brands on the market, some pet parents opt to go above and beyond and make their cat’s raw food at home.
Furthermore, play with your cat! Laser pointers, feathers on sticks, or shiny objects are sure to get your cat running a few laps around your home. Some cat parents even take their cats on walks with leashes and little harnesses. To be fair, older cats are likely not going to want to try out this new fad. However, if you have a new kitten or younger cat, training them to walk outside can (literally) be a walk in the park! If your cat doesn’t immediately take to being put in a harness and going outside, don’t worry, you are not alone!
Regular Vet Visits
Annual check-ups are an important way to monitor your cats overall wellness. Sometimes seemingly simple symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea can be a sign of a bigger issue. In any case, early diagnosis is key to the speediest recovery. Even if your feline friend is in optimal health, it is vital you have a regular vet visit to keep up with shots and other upkeep. Traditionally, one checkup a year is standard, however, once your cat passes the age of ten, you may want to consider a vet visit every six months.
Outdoor Cat Lifespan
As you may suspect, the life expectancy of outdoor cats is typically much shorter than that of indoor cats. On average, outdoor cats live about five and a half years, or anywhere from three to ten years. However, you have to keep in mind that the variables surrounding outdoor, or feral cats are incredibly erratic and hard to measure. Variables might include environmental factors, fleas and ticks, surrounding indigenous wildlife, and proximity to busy roads to name a few. With exposure to the elements, cars, and bigger animals – nature can and often does, take its course.
How To Lengthen Your Outdoor Cat’s Life
You can, and should, give your outdoor cat all the same love and treatment you give your indoor cat. Practice good health, and supplement their hunter’s diet with high-quality, nutritional meals. Honestly, the best way to extend your outdoor cat’s life is to keep them inside. The great outdoors can be magnificent, but it is incredibly dangerous and unpredictable. If your cat is a true outside dweller, perhaps simply bring him or her in at night and let them roam free during the day.
Oldest Cat Ever?
The oldest documented cat is the Guinness World Record record holder named “Creme Puff” who lived an astonishing 38 years and 3 days. Creme Puff was a female tabby mix born on August 3rd, 1967 in Austin, Texas and died on August 6th, 2005 in her hometown. Owner Jake Perry is known for adopting and re-homing hundreds of cats, most who go on to live at least thirty years. Perry feeds his cats an odd diet including asparagus, broccoli, coffee with heavy cream, and bacon and eggs. This unconventional diet is thought to play a vital role in the unusually long lives of Perry’s cats.
Conversely, “Lucy”, a female tabby from Llanelli, South Wales, is thought to have lived for 39 years. However, since Lucy was inherited from a previous owner, her exact birthday is difficult to pinpoint, thus making her precise age impossible to determine.
Holistic, Preventative Wellness for Cats
Fortunately, we live in a time where holistic wellness is no longer simply a passing fad, but a proven practice. There are a number of ways in which you can easily introduce certain herbs and supplements to promote overall wellness in your cat’s body.
Generally speaking, regarding all the items listed below, always talk to your vet before introducing new supplements into your cat’s wellness routine. All cats are different and respond differently to certain vitamins, your vet will know best which supplements will agree with your cat’s unique infrastructure.
You may have heard of probiotics mentioned in yogurt commercials, or during research on your own well being. Interestingly enough, cats can actually benefit from probiotics as well. Probiotics help maintain optimal gastrointestinal function by supplementing the body with vital non-pathogenic (aka “good”) bacterias. The body is designed to generate these bacteria on its own, however, sometimes stress, disease, changes in diet, or medications can disrupt this important process.
Furthermore, probiotics not only regulate healthy gut function but actually help protect your cat from contracting unsavory viruses, parasites, or “bad” bacteria. Certain cat foods are supplemented with added probiotics, but often times, it is not enough or of the highest quality. There are a number of probiotics for cats out there, but be sure to run your choices past your vet first.
Cats are notorious for having tummy issues, and there are two ways that fiber can help with this. First of all, there are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and promotes firmer stool, a useful tool for kitty’s suffering from an extended run of diarrhea. Conversely, insoluble fiber promotes movement of food through the digestive tract, which is incredibly useful for cats suffering from constipation. Better yet, fiber makes the body feel full and satisfied longer. This is wildly useful for the thousands of household cats dealing with obesity.
Omega Fatty Acids
A commonly utilized supplement amongst humans, Omega fatty acids have been proven especially beneficial for felines as well. The right fish oil supplement (aka Omega fatty acid) can work wonders for your cat’s skin, coat, joints, nervous system, heart, kidneys, liver, and immune system. Regarding feline health, you need to focus on omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Now, the brand of fatty acids best suited for your cat depends on the main benefits you seek. Pet Coach has an impressively comprehensive guide that will be sure to help you find the right fatty acid for your feline.
Considering we live in a renaissance of holistic wellness, you have more than likely heard the persistent chatter about the so-called “miracle” herb CBD oil. If this is news to you, we are excited to be the ones to tell you! CBD Oil is derived from the hemp plant and has proven wildly effective for treating, curing, and preventing an impressive array of ailments. Regarding cats specifically, CBD oil has been known to:
- Ease pain (from arthritis to nerve pain)
- Reduce inflammation
- Suppress epilepsy and seizures
- Calm anxiety
- Prevent and cure cancer (yes, you read that right!)
- Promote overall homeostasis in the body
…and that is just the tip of the iceberg! CBD Oil is sweeping the nation with its impressive benefits amongst humans, cats, and dogs alike. So where can you get this magical herb? Luckily, with it’s growing popularity, CBD oil is more accessible than ever. However, not all CBD oils are created equally. It is imperative that you purchase only organic, all-natural, non-GMO, lab-tested CBD oil that is specially designed for felines. We recommend Honest Paws because their products meet all of those requirements. Furthermore, if you have any questions at all about CBD Oil, Honest Paws has an amazing and thorough article that will tell you everything you need to know about CBD for cats.
How Long Do Cats Live – A Final Word
Naturally, all cats are uniquely individual in a variety of ways. Whether they roam free outside or cuddle up to you on the couch indoors, there are dozens of factors that shape the lifespan of a feline. Fortunately, there are a number of things cat owners can do to ensure their cats live the healthiest, longest lives possible. So, go forth and make a lifetime of memories with your cherished cat.