Cat Life Expectancy.
What Can Affect Cat Lifespan?

Cat life expectancy is getting better and better. Many cats live for 10 - 15 years, and some live 20 years or more.

However, a cat's life expectancy does depend on a number of factors, many of which we can have a lot of control over.

This page looks at the different things that affect cat lifespan, and explains how to give your Kitty the best chance of a long, healthy life.

If you want to know how old your kitty would be if he was human, click here for a simple cat years to human years converter.

Things that Influence Cat Life Expectancy

1) Neutering / Spaying

This is one of the key influencers for a few reasons:

  • Un-neutered toms display characteristic un-neutered male behavior including excessive fighting and wandering for miles looking for females to mate with.

  • Excessive fighting puts them at risk of incurable infectious diseases such as leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Wandering for miles increases their chances of being killed on the roads.

  • An un-spayed female will be at risk of catching leukemia, FIV and other infectious diseases through mating with infected male cats. Repeatedly giving birth to litter after litter of kittens can also shorten a female's life expectancy.
  • Not getting a cat neutered or spayed can increase the risk of cancers of the sex organs, which are caused in part by excessive production of sex hormones. Neutering / spaying greatly reduces sex hormone levels, so the cancer risk is also greatly reduced.

2) Diet

Cheap, un-nutritious food can cause all sorts of health problems which can lead to a reduced cat life expectancy and should be avoided like the plague.

One of the most common causes of death in older cats is chronic kidney failure. This can be avoided or considerably slowed down with a lower protein diet. There are special lower protein diets which may be recommended by your vet for elderly cat care.

Obese cats will have lots more health problems and will be more likely to die younger than cats who are within normal weight range.

3) Medical care

Cats that have regular check-ups by the vet, regular vaccinations and prompt treatment of illnesses are likely to live longer than those that don't.

Many elderly cat health problems can be reduced or avoided with regular veterinary checks.

4) Where they live

House cats that aren't at risk of dangers outside such as traffic, dogs etc. stand the best chance of living a long life.

At the other extreme, an un-neutered tom cat living as a stray will only have a lifespan of about 3 years.

5) Their genetic make-up

Some cats, like some humans, have naturally stronger constitutions than others. Different breeds also have different genetic characteristics, and some tend to live longer than others as a result. For example, the American Shorthair is a healthy, long lived breed and can live over 20 years. The Himalayan is more prone to kidney failure than most other breeds, so may not live as long.

Click on these links for advice on how to cope with pet death and the Rainbow Bridge poem.

Cat life expectancy is affected by a number of factors, but these days a well-looked after cat has a good chance of living 10 - 15 years or even more. The oldest cat ever documented in the Guinness Book of Records was Creme Puff, who died in 2005, age 38!

Go from cat life expectancy page to cat anatomy page

Go to Cat Behavior Explained home page