How Long Do Cats Live (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 7 – 14 Years

Most pet parents want to know how long their cats will live. While nobody can predict the exact lifespan of an individual cat, statistics can help answer this question in general. According to various reference texts, feline life expectancy is on average 7 to 14 years. Several factors like breed, environment and diet, heavily influence the predicted life expectancy.

How Long Do Cats Live?

Location Of The CatLife Span
Stray or outdoor cat7 years
Indoor cat14 years

Compared to humans who live for around 80 years, a cats lifespan is only 7 to 14 years long. Their lifespan changes depending on whether the cat is a stray or an indoor cat. Cats who spend a significant amount of time outdoors tend to survive till they are about seven years old, while indoor-only cats live to 14 years of age.

Similar to a human, a cat is vulnerable at two stages in its life. The infancy stage (0 to 6 months) is when a kitten is most sensitive to its environment. During this time, harsh climate, improper care, lack of nutrition and other factors can adversely harm it, shortening its life span.

Another turning point in a cats life is when it enters the senior phase (7 to 14 years). During this stage, a cat becomes more susceptible to diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases and arthritis. If the cat is healthy at this stage, it may live up to 20, maybe even 30 years of age. The oldest cat died at the age of 38 in Texas, USA, which is quite rare. However, if one does not take appropriate care of their cat, it could lose its life abruptly.

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The good news is that advances in veterinary medicine allow cats to live longer than they used to. Hence, one can prolong the lifespan of a cat.

Why Do Cats Live For So long?

A cats life expectancy depends on several factors like health, diet, exercise, environment and breed.

Health and diet are two factors that are extensively intertwined. Hence, a good diet with the required nutrients like whole grains, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent cancer, heart diseases and arthritis, enabling cats to live a long life. Indoor cats generally have a healthy diet. Hence, they live for 14 years or longer. On the other hand, stary cats tend to scour for food in dumpsters, so they do not obtain all the nutrients required. Hence they fall sick and die earlier. 

Cats can pick up many diseases during mating, thus shortening their life span. Neutering cats can protect them from these diseases, enabling them to live longer. 

Another contributing factor to lifespan is obesity. Fat cells produce toxins that can damage DNA or other cells. Damaged DNA can turn cancerous. Hence, cats that are lean and exercise regularly live longer.

Many diseases go unnoticed in cats as they can not convey any discomfort or pain with words. These diseases can abruptly shorten the life of a cat. Indoor cats have periodic health checkups and vaccinations that help alleviate diseases early, while stray cats do not. Hence, indoor cats live much longer than stray cats. 

Stray cats are more prone to traffic accidents, catfights and other dangers that can affect their life span. In addition, cats are also subject to prolonged stress from exposure to the elements like snow, heavy rain and heat. These stressors can age pets faster, tremendously shortening their lifespan. 

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Lastly, the genetics and breed of the cat also determine how long they live. Some mixed breeds live longer than pure breeds as genetic diversity protects them from certain hereditary diseases. 

Conclusion

The saying the cats have nine lives is only a myth. In reality, cats only live for 7 to 14 years, depending on if it is a stray or indoor cat. However, one can prolong the life of their pet by a couple of years. A good diet, exercise and health checkups can do wonders to keep them healthy for a long time. 

References

  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1098612X17752198
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1098612×14536176
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