My favorite pet growing up (besides my turtles) was my cat, Mitz. He was a grey and white tiger-striped Persian mixed with an alley cat and his front paws had beautiful white “mittens.” Mitz was a tough cat who lived well into his early 20s. To me, this was and still is amazing! But what about cats in general? How long can we expect a cat to live? This is a question that veterinarians no doubt hear time and time again.
With proper nutrition, vaccinations, and checkups at the vet, cats can and do live longer. Some (like Mitz) can even live 15 and 20 years (or more) especially if they have no severe illnesses or health conditions.
Indoor Cats vs. Outdoor Cats
When predicting the life expectancy of cats you must factor in all of the pluses and minuses, for example, is your cat is an indoor or outdoor cat? Factor in genetics and you may discover your answer.
Generally, indoor cats have an edge over their outdoor counterparts. Why? Well, indoor cats are well cared for and are very unlikely to contract the diseases associated with cats living outdoors. It’s not unheard of to hear about some indoor cats living well into their 20s (like Mitz, who was an indoor/outdoor cat). The oldest (verified) cat in history is reported to be “Creme Puff” who appeared in the Guinness Book of Records. Creme Puf’ was owned by Jake Perry of Austin, Texas and lived to be the ripe old age of 38!
A hairless Sphinx “Granpa” comes in second oldest as he lived to be 34! Granpa was adopted from the Texas Humane Society. More recently, there’s a cat named Poppy. Poppy, from Bournemouth, England lived to be 24 years old.
Cats in the Outdoors
Cats may live shorter lives outside for a number of reasons such as dog and other animal attacks, car accidents, or just plain illness. Cats can survive outdoors but their longevity of life may not exceed or even reach five years! Why? Well, cats in the wild need to find shelter from the elements as well as aavoid being struck by a car, fighting with other animals, or becoming sick.
Illnesses and Cat Diseases
Cat diseases such as FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) or Feline Leukemia can shorten the life of a healthy outdoor cat if infected by a cat that is sickened by one of these diseases. Cats with FIV may appear normal for quite some time until they become so weak that they cannot fend off the infection which in turn leads to secondary life ending diseases.
Monitoring Your Cat’s Health
Keeping your cat healthy is top priority and a full time job. Astute observation and monitoring are required daily. Keep an eye on behavioral changes which could mean something is wrong. How much food is your cat eating and is your cat drinking enough water? Changes in eating and drinking could be a signal that something is wrong. Also take notice of any unusual lumps, coughing, or toilet habits. And don’t forget to keep up your cat’s routine yearly checkups and vaccinations that protect them from parasites like worms and fleas.
Often overlooked by cat owners is dental care. Unhealthy gums and teeth can have an adverse effect on a cat’s health that extends far beyond bad breath! It is difficult to comprehend how poor dental health can lead to organ failure and other diseases!
A Balanced Diet
It’s important to keep your cat on a balanced diet which corresponds to the age of your cat. Maintaining a healthy weight may add years onto your cat’s life.
Exercise is another important factor for your cat. Regular exercise will keep your purr-fect companion at an ideal healthy weight so your cat will be around for years to come. Good non-supervised play toys are abundant. You can try introducing your cat to a food type toy such as a “Roll-a-Treat” or you may opt for a catnip toy like the KONG Squirrel Catnip Toy. These cat toys and others like them will provide stress free living and a healthy environment for your cat so you can enjoy each other’s company for many, many years (and well into this meow-lennium).
By Tom Matteo
About the Author
Tom Matteo has been a freelance writer since 1992. He has written hardware and software reviews for computers and gaming systems, and now writes about animal behavior and care. Tom resides in Bethlehem, PA with his wife, Tina, and their beloved cockapoo, Angel.