Perhaps the biggest heartbreak pet owners face is that we will generally live longer than our best friends. But with good nutrition, regular visits to the veterinarian, (and of course, lots of love), we can extend the lives of our pets. While the average lifespan of cats will vary depending on genetic factors, conditioning, diet, and access to healthcare — some breeds are celebrated for their long lifespans.
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Genetic characteristics that influence a cat’s lifespan
Although the median longevity for a cat is 14 years, there are other characteristics that influence your cat's average lifespan.
Veterinary Epidemiologist Dan G. O'Neil of the Royal Veterinary College identified these factors in a review of dozens of studies within the VetCompass research database:
- Crossbred cats (aka mixes) live longer than purebred cats: 9-17 years versus 12.5 years
- Cats with lower body weight will often live longer
- Cats who have been neutered or spayed will typically live longer, too
- Females will usually outlive males by two years
"By far the most comprehensive study of more than 4,000 cats with complete longevity records, median longevity of females was two years — or about 15 percent greater — than the longevity of all males (15 years versus 13 years). In that study as well as in the earlier ones, the impact of neutering on lifespan extension was greater than the impact of sex, however," writes O'Neil.
O'Neil's research also identified common health risk factors that compromise the longevity of your cat, including:
- Renal disorder
- Mass lesion disorders
So, again, regular visits to the veterinarian will be a crucial component for your moggie's health and longevity.
10 cat breeds that live the longest
Even though the majority of cats are mixes, according to the ASPCA, your cat will share the genetic traits of several breeds. Who knows? If your kitty is crossbred with a ragdoll and Burmese, you may have a cat with a dozen lives, instead of nine!
- Burmese: 18-25 years
- Ragdoll: 15-25 years
- European shorthair: 15-25 years
- Balinese: 18-20 years
- Bombay: 18-20 years
- American shorthair: 15-20 years
- Siamese: 15-20 years
- Russian blue: 10-20 years
- Persian: 15-18 years
- Japanese bobtail: 15-18 years
A Burmese named Kataleena Lady is among the oldest cats on record, living a whopping 27 years. Originally crossbred between a Burma and a Siamese cat, the Burmese enjoys one of the longest average lifespans among cats: between 18-25 years.
Known for their luscious, silky coats, ragdolls get their name from a particularly cute characteristic. Many parents report their ragdolls to go completely limp when relaxed — hence, the term "ragdoll." And with an expected lifespan of 15-25 years, ragdolls will have lots of time to unwind.
Recognized as one of the oldest European cat breeds, the European shorthair is known for being a skilled mouser who loves nothing more than to chase grasshoppers, mice, and butterflies through fields and barns. With a 15-25 year average lifespan, they'll catch a lot of mice, too.
Truly a beautiful moggie, the Balinese is the result of a genetic mutation from a Siamese cat that produced a longer, fuller coat. This aristocrat is renowned for their good looks and intelligence — two qualities which you will enjoy over the course of their 18- to 20-year lifespan.
Resembling a tiny panther, the jet-black Bombay was originally crossbred between a black American shorthair and a Burmese. The Bombay cat is famous for perching on window sills, bookshelves, and other high places where they can survey their territory. Since they enjoy an average lifespan of 18-20 years, a Bombay cat will see quite a bit of the world go by.
The aptly-named American shorthair is a true original. No, seriously — there are records of this breed crossing the Atlantic on the Mayflower. In fact, like their European cousins, the American shorthair is such a talented mouser, they were mainstays on trans-Atlantic voyages as working cats who chased down rodents and other vermin. Look forward to yours living an average of 15-20 years.
While there is controversy about the first, distinct cat breed, many historians attribute that honor to Siamese cats. It's generally believed the Siamese originated in Thailand during the 14th century, where they make the earliest appearance of any cat breed in ancient texts. Expect the oldest-living breed to live to old age, between 15-20 years.
You'll also have lots of time to cuddle your Russian blue. This regal cat is celebrated for their bright green eyes and blue-gray coat — that does not shed, by the way. Russian blues generally live for about 10-20 years.
Believed among the world's oldest cat breeds, the Persian won "Best in Show" during the first-ever cat show in 1871. Another fun fact about Persian cats: Marilyn Monroe was mother to a white one named Mitsou. You can anticipate yours to live a healthy 15-18 years.
A truncated, bushy tail (similar to a rabbit) is the sign of a Japanese bobtail. Similar to the Siamese cat, this breed first made an appearance several centuries ago in Kaempfer's Japan, a historical book written by Dr. Englebert Kaempfer in 1701. Look forward to your Japanese bobtail living between 15-18 years.
It's not uncommon for cats to reach the age of 14 or older, yet, some breeds stand out as living longer. While there are no guarantees that your kitty will live into their late teens or early twenties, like many cat breeds on this list, providing yours with a healthy, balanced diet and regular vet check-ups — will all go a long way towards having a life-long companion.