“A novel must be exceptionally good to live as long as the average cat.” This aphorism is widely attributed to Philip Stanhope, the Fourth Earl of Chesterfield. Lord Chesterfield lived through the period of English literary history when novels were just becoming popular, and there was already a sense that all forms of media were ephemeral. This was the age of Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels, two novels that are still read today, but also of Love in Excess and Hermsprong, two that have largely been forgotten. What did Chesterfield have in mind? How long do cats live, on average?
What are the facts on the lifespan of a cat? Here at Catster, we’ve done the research on the average cat lifespan and have all the information you need. We’ve crunched the numbers and can tell you that, like novels, the life expectancy of cats depends on a variety of circumstances, including environment, diet and health. We’ll give you information on everything ranging from the general question “How long do cats live?” to the average age of the “current” oldest living cat, the average of the outlying ages, and the averages for indoor and outdoor cat lifespan.
Environment, maintenance, health, and whether the cat is spayed or neutered — all of these factors matter when thinking about the life expectancy of a cat. Sterilization can be a significant factor. Spaying and neutering removes the risk of developing diseases that can affect a cat’s reproductive system in old age. It has become a truism on the Internet, that, with access to current medical and dietary advancements, the ideal cat “can” or “may” live to 20 years and older. Based on a survey of 10 reputable sites that discuss the average domestic cat, the numbers are more inconsistent, ranging from 10 to 20 years. The average domestic cat lifespan comes out to 15.1 years.
Cat breed is certainly a factor when it comes to lifespan. We could list out the lifespan of each cat breed, but then we’d be here forever. Our research suggests that mixed breed cats are, in general, hardier and live longer than purebred cats. Have a question about a specific breed’s longevity? Please consult the Catster Cat breed compendium. Here, we’re concerned, like Lord Chesterfield, with “the average cat.” On average, female cats live one to two years longer than male cats. On average, indoor cats live longer than outdoor cats. On average, wild, homeless and feral cats live dramatically shorter lives than domestic cats.
All the research we’ve done overwhelmingly suggests that indoor cats live nearly three times as long as outdoor cats. How long do cats live if they’re indoor cats? Indoor cats are typically sterilized, vaccinated and removed from the stresses, risks and dangers of the outside world. They are fed regularly and have easy access to water that is fresh and clean.
They require more attention, more distractions, and must be encouraged to get sufficient exercise to avoid obesity. Fortunately, attentive cat owners provide all of those things. The numbers varied widely among all the sites we visited, ranging from 14 to 20 years. Based on the numbers we chronicled, the average lifespan of an indoor cat is 16.875 years.
A number of challenges tend to limit the average cat lifespan of an outdoor cat. Of course, “outside” means different things depending on where a cat lives. Do you live in an urban, suburban, rural or remote location? How many neighbors have outdoor cats? Do you live in a place with an abundance of predatory wildlife? Are there feral or stray animals nearby? Is the weather amenable year-round to an outdoor lifestyle? How close do you live to roads and thoroughfares?
These are all limiting factors, as are increased exposure to fleas,ticks, and other parasites and illnesses. Outdoors, cats can also get in fights and scrapes with other cats and are at increased risk of accidents. However, they also have the freedom to explore, mark out favored perches, and get natural exercise. Because there are so many more unpredictable variables, the numbers are generally not good, and cat lifespan ranges much more widely, anywhere from three to 10 years. The average cat lifespan outdoors is 5.625 years.
Your cat… 1. Greets you at the door. One colleague’s cat recognises the sound of her husband’s car in a busy street, and another’s two cats sit on the garden wall waiting for her to come home from work. 2. Follows you around. Does your cat come and hang out with you, in...