How Long Will My Cat Live?
Here's the average life span of a cat.
As a pet parent, it can be difficult to think about the life expectancy of your animal. Our pets are such a valuable part of our lives — but sadly, their expected life span is important to consider, especially if you’re bringing a new pet into your home for the first time.
So, how long do cats live? And what can you do, as a cat parent, to ensure your furry friend has a long and healthy life?
We spoke to Ashley Callihan, a vet technician with DodoVet, for more insight into a cat’s longevity and if some cat breeds live longer than others.
How long do cats live?
Although it’ll vary for each individual cat, we can make some predictions about how long cats will live on average, according to Callihan.
- Mixed-breed “house cats” — As with dogs, a mixed-breed animal can live a long and healthy life due to his diverse genetic makeup. On average, mixed-breed cats live 14 years, while some have lived more than 30 years of age.
- Purebred cats — A healthy purebred cat can live about 12 and a half years, while some can even live to be around 20 years of age.
- Strictly outdoor cats — Due to circumstances you’ll read about below, these cats unfortunately have an average life span of only 2–5 years.
What factors affect longevity in cats?
There are several scenarios that will affect your cat’s life span, according to Callihan:
The majority of house cats are domestic short-, medium- and long-haired cats — the mixed-breed “mutts” of the cat world, so to speak. They tend to be healthier due to genetic diversity and live an average of 14 years, while some mixed-breed cats can live beyond 30 years of age.
“Purebred cats are a slightly different story,” Callihan told The Dodo. “The intentional breeding of cats is not as common as the intentional breeding of dogs. When cats are bred through the same bloodline, they’re more likely to develop the less desirable traits from each parent. These less desirable traits can range from slight jaw misalignments to something more serious like heart defects. If outbred through different bloodlines, purebred cats can be incredibly healthy and live long lives.”
On average, healthy purebred cats live about 12 and a half years, but some can live to be around 20 years of age.
Cats who spend a portion or all of their lives outside face some dangers that strictly indoor cats won’t have to worry about. Outdoor cats risk being hit by a car, attacked by predators or other cats, and contracting viral diseases and parasites.
One of the most common viral diseases seen in outdoor cats is feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which is passed most commonly through an affected cat biting another cat (most commonly seen in unneutered male cats who spend time outside). Symptoms may take years to develop, so this disease can be silent but fatal. Sadly, outdoor cats have an average life span of only 2–5 years.
While accidents do happen, strictly indoor cats face fewer dangers. If you have a mischievous cat, cat-proofing the house is a good idea. Unplug things that aren’t in use, put phone chargers in a safe place, make sure window screens are secure, and even put covers over stove knobs to prevent burns or fires. On average, indoor cats have a life span of 13–17 years.
While overweight cats may be cute, obesity has a direct correlation with quality of life and life expectancy. Obesity is the most common disease in cats, though it’s preventable. Adequate exercise is possible to do inside your home — try playing fetch, playing with a laser pointer, and even putting out battery-operated toys that flop around to mimic prey. Keeping your cat fit and healthy will give him a longer and better quality of life.
Cats benefit greatly from yearly checkups with their veterinarian, vaccines, parasite prevention and routine blood work. It’s recommended to run yearly blood work on cats 7 years and older, which tests their glucose levels as well as kidney and liver health. This blood work can help your vet spot any problems that your cat might have before he starts showing symptoms, which is helpful since cats are known for hiding illness.
No matter how long your cat lives, every pet parent knows it will never be long enough. Yet another important reminder to never take life for granted — every moment counts with your cat!
Want access to a vet 24/7? With DodoVet, you can connect via video chat, phone or text with an empathetic veterinary expert who can help you be the best pet parent you can be. Say goodbye to Dr. Google and have all your pet parent questions answered anytime, anywhere. Learn more here.