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What Is The Average Cat Lifespan? Insights and Tips for a Long, Healthy Life

What Is The Average Cat Lifespan? Insights and Tips for a Long, Healthy Life

✔ This article was reviewed for accuracy by a licensed veterinarian.

When you consider bringing a cat home to join the family, you likely have many questions. One that many ask is: What is the average cat lifespan? 

Most of our pet cats, if they live indoors, will have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. However, this number is dependent on a number of factors, which we cover in this post!

The Cat Insider team has researched this topic extensively, in addition to working with our staff vet, to ensure we provide a thoughtful take on this topic.

We cover the following items in this post:

Read on to learn everything you need to know about the average cat lifespan!

Do Some Cat Breeds Live Longer Than Others?

A siamese kitten. What is the average cat lifespan?
Siamese cats can live for a very long time. They can also be very vocal. A lethal combination!

The short answer is yes. Cats can be long-term companions. One of the attractions of adopting cats is that they are relatively long-lived pets. Some breeds of cats have the genetics for astonishing longevity:

  • Burmese cats, for instance, can live to be 16, with some owners maintaining healthy Burmese cats for as long as 20+ years. The oldest-ever Burmese cat lived to be 35
  • Siamese cats, close cousins of the Burmese cats, can live to be 15 to 20, but a Siamese cat named Scooter lived to be 30.
  • Balinese cats can live to be 12 to 20 years old. They’re known to be intelligent, energetic, chatty, and friendly!
  • Russian Blues can live to be 12 to 20 years old, but some see 25.
  • Savannah cats, which may cost you up to $20,000, can live to be 20. 
  • Ragdoll cats, if they don’t have heart problems, have a life expectancy of 12 to 23 years. 
  • Both American Shorthair cats and European Shorthair cats can live to be 14 to 20 years old.

The oldest cat ever recorded was a Domestic Shorthair named Creme Puff who was born in 1967 and died in 2005 in Austin, Texas, at the age of 38 years and 3 days. Creme Puff had distinctly non-feline dietary preferences, including asparagus, eggs, and sour cream.

Mixed-breed cats can inherit genes for long life the same way purebred cats can. Good care and a good diet complement favorable genetics.

But the biggest determinant of how long a cat lives may be where the cat lives – inside or outdoors.

What Is The Average Cat Lifespan of a House Cat?

This is an interesting question because you can find many sources online saying different things. The answer is somewhere between 10-15 years on average.

This number can depend on many factors, like diet, exercise, and veterinary care. The more exercise your cat gets, the healthier their diet, and the consistency in which they see the vet can all assist in keeping them healthy for a long time.

What Is The Average Cat Lifespan of an Outdoor Cat?

A cat lying down next to a bed of flowers. What is the average cat lifespan?
Beautiful flowers you have out here. It’d be a shame if I decided to redecorate a bit.

Outdoor pet cats typically live just 2–5 years, and feral cats typically live half that long. 

Why Is Life Cut Short for Outdoor Cats?

Even well-loved outdoor cats take daily risks that indoor cats do not. Consider, for example, the risk of road accidents. A 1993 study performed on roadkill estimates that roughly 26 million cats die each year due to roadkill-related causes. 

Outdoor cats hunt for food. Long, straight streets and stretches of road expose small animals like rabbits and mice racing from one side of the road to the other. Cats wait on the other side to catch them.

The rewards of hunting alongside a stretch of paved road are offset by the risk of being hit by a car. A veterinary study in England found that 1 in 25 kittens allowed outdoors was struck by cars before they reached the age of one year, and over 70 percent of the time, their injuries were fatal.

There is another major hazard for cats that are allowed outdoors: parasites.

  • Outdoor cats get fleas. Fleas can transmit tapeworms, which can infect kittens and cause them to die of starvation no matter how well they are fed.
  • Cats get heartworms through mosquito bites. 
  • They can contract roundworms through contact with wild animal feces. 

Additional risks posed to outdoor cats include:

  • Wild animals and loose pets. 
  • Trees. Cats can easily climb trees, but getting down is the issue. Cats often jump down from elevated spaces (e.g., the couch, the counter, etc.). But it is much more difficult and scary for them to jump down from a tree.
  • Your cat’s prey drive. Loose cats kill millions of birds a year, in addition to other small animals. 
  • Contracting toxoplasmosis, under-the-skin larvae, and rabies from feral cats.
  • Random acts of animal cruelty. This is sad to think about, but these do occur.

No matter how much your cat likes to get out, he/she will always enjoy a longer life if they stay indoors. But how you care for your cat makes a big difference, too.

The Cat Insider team is a huge proponent of taking your cat outside – but in a secure manner. That is why we put together an extensive guide on how to leash train a cat! Even if you’re not looking to leash train your cat, this guide has great tips on how to remain vigilant and risks to keep an eye on while outdoors. 

What Are the Life Stages of a Cat?

The life stages of a cat. What is the average cat lifespan?
The life stages of a cat are pretty consistent across breeds. However, additional care and vigilance can assist in providing a long, healthy life for your cat.

The life stages of a cat are pretty clear cut and dry, and consistent across breeds:

  1. Kittens. Your cat is technically a kitten until it turns roughly one year old.
  2. Young Adult. Your cat is in this stage up until about 6 years old.
  3. Mature Adult. This stage is often between the ages of 7 – 10. Your cat will be more lethargic and prone to gain weight during this stage due to a decrease in activity.
  4. Senior. This stage is from about 10 years old and on. You should have a closer pulse on your cat’s health at this time and likely see the vet more than just once a year. Your vet and you should discuss what timeline is appropriate based on the health of your cat. 

Even if your cat is in good health as a senior, it is still best to go to the vet at least twice a year to be safe. A cat in its earlier life stages, assuming good health, should see the vet once a year.

Nutrition and Longevity in Cats

Many pet cats aren’t consistently fed what their bodies need to thrive. A bad diet can lead to a shorter average cat lifespan. 

For a cat, carbohydrates are essentially roughage. They can aid bowel movement, but they don’t provide feline cell fuel. The tiny amount of carbohydrate that a wild cat gets in its natural food comes from the plant foods that happen to be in its prey animal’s digestive tract when the cat eats it.

A natural diet for cats contains just 2 percent carbohydrates. Many cat owners ask how this can be possible since carbs are essential for energy for people.

The difference is that human metabolism turns carbohydrate foods into the energy molecule glucose, while feline metabolism transforms excess amino acids from protein foods into glucose. For those who don’t know – amino acids are molecules that combine to form proteins.

Humans can turn amino acids into glucose when they don’t eat carbs. Cats transform amino acids into glucose constantly, even when they aren’t eating.

What this means is that cats break down their own tissues for energy when they don’t eat for about 24 hours. A human’s metabolism will slow down when they are not eating, but a cat’s metabolism keeps going indefinitely. 

Cats must get high-quality protein foods every single day, providing about 5 grams of protein for every 2 pounds the cat weighs. 

One More Key to Feline Longevity: Good Veterinary Care

A cat being assessed by a vet. What is the average cat lifespan?
Can you warm that stethoscope up please? It’s about as cold as you are for refusing to give me more treats.

There is one more consideration for making sure your cat enjoys a long life. Establish an ongoing relationship with a vet while your cat is still a kitten, or as soon as you adopt an older cat. If the prospect of vet bills deters you, consider getting pet health insurance. 

Cats need: 

  • Their rabies shots and a combination shot called FVRCP. These protect against feline herpes, feline panleukopenia (distemper) virus, and feline calicivirus. 
  • Annual dental care to prevent tooth decay and tooth loss. 
  • Monitoring for early treatment of thyroid issues, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. 
  • You may also need your vet’s help in managing quirky behavior, toilet issues, and age-related problems with mobility.

A good vet and consistent care can aid in your journey to extend the average cat lifespan for your little one!

Final Thoughts on The Average Cat Lifespan

As we stated above: the average cat lifespan is roughly 10-15 years for indoor cats and 2-5 years for outdoor cats. How you care for your cat during your time with them can sway these numbers in one direction or another. 

If you’re on the fence about raising your cat to be an indoor cat or outdoor cat, we recommend indoor. The statistics speak for themselves, and there have been many people before who thought they could beat the odds, only to find themselves heartbroken.

Indoor cats can become companion pets for many, many years. They require more attention, but they stick around longer to give more love in return. And cats can show you love in many different ways!

mitch albert

Saturday 2nd of July 2022

ps we also know from university vet studies that the outdoor cat has a healthier body than an indoor pet cat!!!! Check out Julie Levy, univ of FL past studies.

mitch albert

Saturday 2nd of July 2022

Hi, I've been studying outdoor and pet cats demographically, geographically and biologically for +10 years. I was treasurer and in charge of ops for a small TNR group along the coast.

Current conclusions: +90% of all outdoor cats come from lost, abandoned, thrown away, or run away cats and their average age when they're "lost" is 2-5 years. (If you don't believe the age, sign up for lost cat notices and check out their ages. (Stop losing pets and you dwindle the outdoor cats greatly.) I have found outdoor cats can readily live past 10 but they do have greater predator, highway, disease and weather risks to die sooner than an indoor pet cat.

When outdoor cat colonies (>2 cats) are really managed, they live as well as indoor pets. When tnr groups work an area, they have to manage it forever to make sure 90% of the cats (births-deaths+migrants) is maintained to maintain constant or declining populations. Any area at any given time is in equilibrium for a given cat population. Feed more and get more cats. Manage existing cats and tnr and populations decline and they live longer because they then have shelter, a protector, a feeder, AND THEY MIGRATE LESS so less highway risk. regards, mitch albert