The answer to the question how long do cats live doesn’t have a straightforward answer.
To be very brief, one could say the answer to how long do cats live is from 2 to 15 years, taking an average, but this doesn’t help answer your question about your own cat!
So how long do cats live?
Essentially, the average lifespan can be more accurately determined when you split cats up between two different lifestyles: indoor cats versus outdoor cats.
While genetics and luck can play a role in cat longevity, the truth is that the lifespan of a cat largely depends on the level of care and safety received through his or her lifetime.
How Long Do Cats Live Indoors?
A healthy, safe, well-cared for cat can live from 12 to 15 years on average, but sometimes can live into their early to even mid 20’s.
The following are the main factors why indoor cats live longer than their outdoor counterparts:
Better Medical Care
Not only do well-cared for indoor pets get regular checkups, but they are also more likely to be taken in for treatment at early signs of illness, as long as an observant human notices a change in appearance or behavior.
Indoor Cats Face Less Stress
Some owners of indoor-only cats feel a twinge of guilt that they don’t let their cats outdoors, especially when they seem to love looking out the windows.
But the occasional boredom is made up for by the fact that they don’t have to worry about predators or territory invasions.
In other words, when they are sleeping (18 or so hours a day) they don’t have too much to worry about, which keeps their stress hormones at bay leads to a longer life.
Playing games with your cat will help overcome the occasional boredom, and will keep him mentally alert and creates a bonding experience between you both.
This is a almost a given, but indoor-only cats aren’t exposed to the myriad of dangers that await outdoor cats. There are many dangers to outdoor cats that account for such a short life expectancy.
So the answer to “how long do cats live” indoors is much longer than the lifespan of a cat living outdoors
How Long do Cats Live Outdoors?
An outdoor-only cat is given an estimated lifespan of between 2 and 6 years—2 to 3 if he is a loner, and this average increases for a cat living in a feral colony.
The following are what account for the longevity differences between indoor and outdoor or feral cats:
Traffic: An estimated 5.4 million cats are killed by automobiles each year, which is 1 million more than are euthanized in shelters! Cats don’t look both ways before crossing the street, and unwary motorists don’t have time to stop.
Predators: Dogs, coyotes, and raptors (eagles and owls) will attack and kill cats. Even smaller animals like opossums and raccoons can prove to be very vicious when provoked.
Accidents: Falls from rooftops or trees, getting caught in a fence, or getting trapped somewhere is all too common for cats, especially males who will roam many dangerous miles in search of females in heat.
Exposure to the Elements: Extreme heat easily causes dehydration, and extreme cold can bring on hypothermia and frostbite. Plus, a cat who uses her energy dealing with extreme conditions is unable to
Poisons: Antifreeze is extremely toxic to cats, but they are attracted to the flavor. Snakebites also fall within this category.
Breeding: Multiple pregnancies deplete the nutritional reserves of a queen (mother cat) and this shortens her lifespan a great deal compared to spayed females.
Non neutered males are also more susceptible to developing prostate or testicular cancer than their neutered counterparts.
Cat Fights: Cat fighting is very common among outdoor cats.
Although it’s most often associated with intact (non neutered) males, this isn’t always the case.
Cat bites cause nasty infections, and if untreated can lead to death—either from the infection itself, or lack of the ability to hunt.
The transmittal of saliva can also lead to another danger…
Diseases: Feline AIDS, Feline Leukemia, and distemper are just a few of the more common diseased that afflict cats.
How Long Do Cats Live With Good Health Care?
In addition to regular veterinary checkups and vaccinations, there are several other steps to take to make sure your beloved pet lives longer:
Dental Care: one important thing you can do to help your cat live a long life is through routine dental care.
As a cat gets older especially, infections in the teeth and gums can travel through the blood and lead to heart disease, which is very common in felines and unfortunately very fatal.
Yearly veterinary dental cleanings become a priority, but a costly one since anesthesia is involved.
To keep your cat’s teeth healthy as long as possible, develop a routine now of brushing her teeth at least a couple times a week.
It probably won’t be fun for either of you at first, but it’s worth the headache. Read this article to learn about brushing cats teeth.
Diet: A nutritious diet keeps indoor cats one step ahead of outdoor cats health-wise.
Even though cats in the outdoors are theoretically able to eat their natural prey of rodents, they are not guaranteed to fill their bellies every day, let alone every meal.
Having a human provide a constant source of quality food several times a day helps ensure a longer life.
Some indoor cats are overfed and under-exercised, and as a result develop obesity which encourages a whole host of other health problems.
This is probably the only advantage an outdoor cat has over an indoor cat.
Differences Between Outdoor Cats and Feral Cats
How long do cats live with human care? On average, outdoor cats that have humans to look after them still have a lower life expectancy than indoor-only cats, but not as low as that of a feral cat.
Outdoor pet cats may still have access to quality food, veterinary care, and may be spayed and neutered (hopefully!) just as indoor cats would.
Exposure may not even be a concern if they have free access to the indoors, or if an insulated cat house is set up in the yard.
However, outdoor pets are still susceptible to predators, traffic, and cat fights just as feral cats are.
If you have an outdoor-only cat, there are measures you can take to keep him as safe and healthy as possible, but there is only so much you can do to protect him from other outside dangers.
How long do cats live if they’re feral? They are lucky to live longer than 4 years. It’s usually a short and difficult life to lead for such cats.
How Long Do Cats Live Compared to Humans?
Cats age differently than dogs do. By age 2, a cat is a full adult as a human equivalent of a 24-year-old.
In their mid-life, they age the equivalent of about 5 to 8 years per human year, which trails off as they reach their golden years.
Here is a Cat Age Chart to help you gauge your own cat’s relative age:
The chart above only provides an approximation, however, as it takes the average of all breeds of cats.
How Long do Cats Live Based on Breed?
Interestingly, certain breeds also have varying milestones—Siamese for example reach sexual maturity as early as 6 months, while most non-purebreds reach it at 10 months. Breeds like the Maine Coon don’t reach it until 1 or 2 years!
Individual genetics also play a role. If you have a purebred cat, your best answer to how long do cats live will come from the breeder you received her from.
The question of “How Long do Cats Live” is clearly difficult to answer.
There are never any guarantees in life, and sometimes our pets leave us early even if we do everything we can to keep them safe and healthy.
Hopefully though the guidelines above will help you increase the odds that your own cat or kitten will enjoy her golden years a long way down the road.