The question, "how long do cats live" is a question veterinarians no doubt hear a myriad of times during their career.
Cats, these days, with the help of proper nutrition and vaccinations are living longer than ever. Some cats live fifteen and even twenty years and over, barring no severe illnesses or determining health conditions.
Indoor or Outdoor?
But what factors come into play when predicting the life expectancy of cats? Genetics is one, of course. Another is if your cat is an indoor or outdoor cat?
Indoor cats appear to have the edge on life expectancy mainly because indoor cats are well cared for in their homes and they are unlikely to contract the disease outdoor cats may contract. Indoor cats' lifespans range from twelve to eighteen years with some reaching into their twenties!
Guinness Book Cat Records
The oldest cat in history is reported and published in the Guinness Book of Records as being 'Creme Puff' owned by Jake Perry, in Austin, Texas. Born on 3 August 1967 and living until 6 August 2005, Creme Puff died at the staggering age of 38 years!
'Granpa' was the second oldest cat who lived to thirty-four! Granpa was a rare hairless sphinx adopted from the Texas Humane Society.
Recently, a cat named 'Poppy' lived to be 24 years old. Poppy was from Bournemouth, England. Poppy passed in June 2014. My condolences go out to Jacqui West and family.
Mitz The Persian Mix
I was fortunate to have owned a great Persian Mix mis-named Mitz (a male.) Mitz lived into his early 20's and that is a long time for an indoor/outdoor cat who spent around sixty percent of his time inside and forty percent outside doing cat familiar activities like catching mice and chasing birds.
Cats accustomed to outdoor living generally live shorter lives due mostly to dog or other animal attacks, ill health, or motor vehicle accidents. The average life expectancy of an outdoor cat is around five years providing they find shelter for protection from the elements and they avoid fighting, sickness and cars.
Fighting with other cats that are sick or infected with FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) or Feline Leukemia can shorten the life of a healthy outdoor cat as well. FIV infected cats may appear normal for years until the infection leads to a state of immune deficiency wherein the cat cannot fend off infection and the same everyday bacteria can't be fought off as in healthy animals, thus leading to secondary life ending diseases.
Insuring your cat's health into their golden years requires astute observation and monitoring on a daily basis.
Behavioral changes should be well noted. How much food and water does your cat eat and drink? Changes in eating and drinking could mean something is wrong and it's time to visit the VET!
Also note any lumps, coughing and toilet habits that seem unusual. And don't forget your cat's routine vaccinations and yearly checkups for parasites like worms and fleas.
Teeth & Gums
Dental care is often an area overlooked by cat owners. Teeth and gums that are unhealthy have more of an impact on a cat's health that extends far beyond bad breath. Bad dental habits in cats can lead to organ failure as well as other bodily damage.
Diet & Exercise
According to your cat's age, keeping him on a balanced diet in order to maintain a healthy weight may add years to his life.
Exercise your cat regularly. For non supervised play, a food type toy such as a 'Roll-a-Treat' is a good choice. A catnip toy like the 'KONG Squirrel Catnip Toy' is another good toy for playful cat-ercise!
A balanced diet and daily exercise will provide a stress free and healthy environment for your cat throughout his entire nine lives (that is, if he requires all nine!)
By Tom Matteo