How Long Will My Cat Live?

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

20 September 2016

How long will my cat live?

We’d love to tell you that your kitty will be with you forever, and we’d love even more for it to be true. And hey, maybe it is! Who knows what awaits us in that great furball in the sky. Unfortunately, in this life, a cat lover has to be paw-lygamous. But just how many precious years do you get with your furry friend? Read on to find out.

Cat years vs human years

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s talk about cat years. What are cat years? Well, everyone’s heard of dog years. Cat years are dog years, but for cats. You’re right that was a little bit confusing. Basically, because cats have a faster metabolism they grow and mature more quickly, meaning that a 1 year old furbaby is much more advanced than a 1 year old human baby, and every year after that counts for extra.

So, to translate human years to cat years, start with 15 cat years on your cat’s 1st birthday, and then add 4 cat years for every human year after that. Now realise that your kitten is soon to be an unruly teenager. Now scream!!!

The law of averages

Yeah, yeah, cat years, blah, blah. But what is my cat’s lifespan? Well, meanie, the short answer is that the average domestic cat will live between 10 and 15 years (or 51 to 71 cat years), although naturally-occurring breeds, like the Russian Blue and Egyptian Mau tend to live longer than designer breeds like the Australian Mist and Devon Rex.

However, these averages account for outliers on both ends of the spectrum: whereas some cats may be struck down by an inherited disease very early in life, Creme Puff, the oldest cat of all time, lived to 38 years old (163 cat years). That’s old enough to have been completely unimpressed by the moon landing! A well-bred, well-looked after cat can live to be old indeed.

How can I keep my cat alive for longer?

There are plenty of things a responsible servant can do to keep their feline master happy and healthy for years to come. This is a condensed version - you should click through to the relevant articles for more information.

  • Keeping your cat inside or in a cat enclosure

The average indoor cat lives around 14 years, compared to just 4 years for the average outdoor cat. Indoor cats are kept away from the most common causes of unexpected death in felines, including cars, dogs, poisoning and disease (like the deadly Feline Immunodeficiency Virus). However, cats have an instinctual interest in going outside for fresh air and sunshine - which is why we recommend buying an outdoor cat enclosure. Watch your handsome kitty play in total peace.

  • Desexing your cat

Desexing your cat will reduce its desire to roam in search of a mate, and so help with keeping it inside. It will also eliminate any possibility of common reproductive diseases, including testicular and ovarian cancer. And that isn’t even the whole story!

  • Vaccinating and worming your cat

It goes without saying, but vaccinating and worming your cat goes a long way to preventing all manner of deadly diseases and parasites. Read our guide to vaccination for more, or talk to your vet.

  • Feeding your cat the right kind of food

Your cat has nutritional needs, just like you do. Well, not just like you do: cats have very particular dietary requirements that, unfortunately, many pet foods fail to reach. Check out ours instead! You should also be mindful to avoid overfeeding or feeding toxic/allergenic foods. And don’t overdo it on the treats - however cute those pleading eyes look.

  • Making sure your cat gets enough water

Cats have evolved to get most of their hydration from prey, and so they have an unusually low drive to hydrate. This can lead to serious urinary and kidney problems. Make it as easy for them as possible by providing fresh, clean water in an easily accessible location - in general, cats prefer flowing water, so check out our pawesome drinking fountain. Mixing in wet food with dry kibble is also a tasty trick, and we’re sure kitty won’t mind the variety.

Sometimes it can be tough to tell if your cat is feeling like the absolute star that it is - check out our handy guide to kitty body language to decode the message.


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