How Long Do Cats Live?

By far, one of the most challenging aspects of pet ownership is that our beloved furry friends do not live as long as us. However, some pets do have a longer lifespan than others. 

When it comes to your cat, how long should you expect them to live for? Does their breed influence their longevity? Are there ways to help them live longer? These are all important questions and ones we can help you answer. 

Let’s take a look at how long cats usually live for.


The Feline Lifespan

On average, indoor cats can live anywhere between 12-18 years of age with some even making it into their 20’s. One record-holding kitty by the name of Creme Puff lived to an impressive 38 years old! 

Outdoor cats by comparison tend to have shorter lifespans often not making it beyond five to eight years. Why? This is due to the higher likelihood of them being injured or killed by traumas such as dog attacks, fights with other cats and wildlife or being hit by cars. 

Cat Years Vs Human Years

Ever wondered how old your cat is in human years? How many cat years are in a human year is worked out as follows. 

The first year of your cat's life is considered equivalent to 15 human years. Their second year is counted as nine human years and every year after that four cat years are added. This means a two-year-old cat is around 24 in human years, whereas a four-year-old cat is considered 32 in human years. 


Factors That Influence Longevity

Aside from whether a cat lives indoors or outdoors, there are several other factors that can contribute to how long a cat will live. 

If you want your cat to live as long as possible while still maintaining a great quality of life, you should be mindful of the following. 


Your cat's diet is incredibly important when it comes to supporting a long and healthy life. 

Ensuring their diet is well-balanced throughout their life helps to keep them in optimal health and can help slow down the progression of diseases associated with old age. 

Their diet should:

  • Be high in protein
  • Be low in saturated fats but high in essential fatty acids
  • Be low in carbohydrates
  • Cater to their unique vitamin and mineral needs 
  • Be high in moisture

Your cat's dietary needs will change as they age. We recommend speaking with your vet to determine the right food and feeding schedule for your cat.  


As noted above, cats who spend their lives indoors most often live longer than those that are primarily outdoors. 

Even so, indoor cats that are too sedentary and engage in minimal exercise can also develop health problems and become overweight. Obesity in cats is linked with several serious health conditions including diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. 

Cats need consistent physical and mental stimulation to remain healthy so providing climbing spaces, toys and playful interactions is a must. 

Preventative Care

Yearly check-ups for cats are a great way to keep tabs on their health as they age. This can help you discover any issues early on for better management or treatment. From which they can enjoy a longer, healthier life as a result. 

It also ensures all their vaccinations remain up to date. While it may not seem as important to vaccinate a cat that lives indoors, infectious diseases and serious illnesses can still find your indoor cat. 


Just as in all living things, genetics plays a key role in longevity. Many breeds with reduced genetic diversity are prone to developing hereditary diseases. 

These include things such as deafness or feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), certain cancers and heart problems among other issues. 


Certain cat breeds are inclined to outlive others. This can be due to proper maintenance of breed standards to avoid hereditary problems. However, even the humble tabby cat can enjoy a great lifespan thanks to a more diverse gene pool. 

How long will your preferred breed of cat live? As this table indicates, with proper care, most will live a minimum of 12-15 years. 


Average Lifespan


15 - 18 years 


15 - 20 years


15 years 


15 years 


15 - 18 years

Maine Coon

13 - 15 years


12 - 16 years


12 - 17 years


8 - 14 years

Russian Blue 

15 - 20 years 


Why Do We Say Cats Have Nine Lives? 

We often say cats have nine lives and while we know that isn't true in the literal sense, they do seem to possess some death-defying abilities. 

Their impressive dexterity and ability to land on their feet from great heights apparently unharmed undoubtedly helps them to live longer. Especially since cats are innately curious and tend to regularly leap off things while adventuring. 

No other domestic pet seems to be able to cheat death in this way which has led to the joking belief that cats have nine lives. 

Sadly though, this is not the case. No matter how lucky they may seem, keeping your cat away from danger is the only reliable way to avoid a serious accident.


The Importance Of Quality Of Life

While as vets we absolutely understand owners wanting to keep their pets alive as long as possible, we also understand that quality of life has to be considered. 

As your cat gets older it is important to ensure they are still happy and enjoying life. Cats that are nearing the end of their life will show many signs that it's time to say goodbye.

These include:


  • A refusal to eat or eating very little
  • Significant weight loss
  • An increase in sleep and loss of interest in their favourite activities
  • No longer using the litter box

If your cat has been receiving treatment for an illness and this is no longer working or has been unsuccessful, you will also need to consider its ability to enjoy life. 

Your vet is the best person to speak with regarding your cat's quality of life and whether any decisions need to be made regarding end-of-life care. A vet will always seek to put the comfort and well-being of your cat first. 


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