How Long Do Cats Live?

My love for cats goes way back. In fact, as a kid we used to have cats that spent all of their time inside the house and a few that were always outside. 

One thing I know for sure is that the cats that lived outside never seemed to live as long as our “indoor cats.”

No doubt, it was due to the added risk factors associated with living outdoors not to mention the local coyotes.

As I got older I really started to think about how long cats live. More importantly as a cat owner I wanted to know how I could help my cats live longer. 

How Long Do Cats Live?

How long do cats live?

For the most part domestic cats typically have a longer lifespan than dogs. That’s why they are great for people who want a pet who’ll be around for a while. 

Of course, that’s not always the case. Things like genetics, luck and whether or not you take your cat to the vet for regular checkups all play a role. Making sure they stay active and stimulated with something like a cat tunnel toy helps them live longer as well.

But, the good news for all of us cat lovers is that several studies including one that looked at over 100,000 cats in the UK gives us a pretty good idea as to what we can expect when it comes to the lifespan of our furry little friends. 

Here’s what they found…

Your Typical Indoor Cat Lives 14 to 20 Years

How long do indoor cats live?

One of the biggest factors that will determine just how long your cat lives is whether or not you keep them inside or allow them to go outdoors. 

And all the data points to the fact that indoor cats tend to live a lot longer. 

The problem is figuring our exactly what a so-called outdoor cat is. 

Cats who spend all of their time outside, face a lot more risk than those who simply go outside on occasion. 

Even cats that are considered indoor cats may slip outside on occasion. 

So, when looking at lifespan these are important things to look at.

There are also cultural differences and even differences between countries. For example, in the UK the majority of cats spend at least part of their time outside. There are also typically more outdoor cats overall. 

Believe it or not in the US, there are more predators, and the general recommendation is to keep your cat indoors. 

On average, your typical indoor cat lives between 14 and 20 years. 

Outdoor cats, however tend to live much shorter lives, especially when they are young. Due to the plethora of risk factors including predators, cars and other dangers. 

How long do outdoor cats live?

Now when it comes to outdoor cats, things are a little different. 

The biggest argument is that while they tend to lead shorter lives, their lives are much more adventurous and interesting. 

But, even in the UK where there are less predators, cars still pose a big threat to outdoor cats. 

That’s why the biggest cause of death for cats under a year old in the UK is from cars. 

But the interesting thing is that if a cat makes it past one -year they typically live into their teens just like most indoor cats. 

So, for most people the decision as to whether or not your cat will be an indoor or outdoor cat depends a lot on where you live and your overall philosophy.

However, if you do choose to allow your cat the freedom to roam, there are a few things you should keep in mind. 

Cars are not the only thing putting your cat at risk. 

Humans pose other threats too and they can harm your cat in other ways. There are also poisonous substances as well as toxins, diseases, infections and even trauma from other cats. 

These additional risk factors are just one more reason why most veterinarians suggest you keep your cat indoors. 

But there are people who believe that keeping a cat locked up in the house is cruel. 

I am not one of those. 

I admit I used to think that way, but after losing too many cats I realized that as a responsible cat owner there are things I can do to help life indoors be a bit more interesting. 

For example, I built an outdoor area for my cat where he can enjoy the great outdoors and still stay safe. I have also trained my cat to walk on a leash. That way I can take him on walks and allow him to enjoy the smells, the sights and the sounds of nature. All without putting him in danger. 

However, at the end of the day the decision is yours to make. It really just depends on your preferences. 

If you do choose to allow your cat to live outside please at least take these precautions. 

  • Make sure their vaccinations are up to date. That way they are at least protected from many of the most common diseases out there. 

  • Make sure that there are no easily accessible poisons or toxins on your property.

  • Try to keep your cat close by calling for them regularly throughout the day. That way they don’t wonder off too far and if they don’t come at least you can look for them quickly. 

So, what is the average lifespan of a cat?

On average, most domestic cats live about 14 years. This is according to years of veterinary research and records. 

However, some cats can live up to 20 years or more. 

And while the average is around 14, there are certain ages where the death rate spikes. 

For example, studies have shown that most cats die around 1 year and then again around 15 or 16. 

And cross breads tend to live longer than pure bred cats. 

In one study done by the Royal Veterinary College in England researchers found that crossbred cats lived approximately 14 years while purebred cats lived an average of 12.5. 

Trauma tends to be the leading cause of death for younger cats, but what about older cats?

Well according to experts, after a cat reaches five years of age, the leading cause of death is kidney disease. 

But there are other factors too. 

For example, studies have shown that female cats tend to live longer than males. 

And while the reasons behind this are not known, there are some statistics that may provide some insight. 

For one, veterinarians say that spaying increases female cats’ lifespans by 6 months.

It also reduces the risk of additional health problems like cancer and the complications associated with pregnancy. 

What about male cats?

Just like female cats, studies suggest that neutering your cat could add years to his life.

Some studies have shown that neutering your cat may increase lifespan by 2 years.

How can you help your cat live longer?

Now that you know the various statistics behind a cat’s lifespan, how can you use them to your advantage?

Just like in humans, there are going to be some things beyond your control. Things like, cancer, kidney disease etc.  

But there are some things you can do to give your cat the best chances to live a long life. 

For one, keeping your cat indoors does help to improve their odds. 

Grooming your cat often helps you identify any potential health problems and catch them early. 

Routine vaccinations and parasite control can help reduce your cat’s chances of developing certain diseases and the frequent checkups allow your vet to keep tabs on their health.

At the end of the day, lifespan varies and we can’t control everything, but by following some simple tips and strategies we can do our best to keep our cats safe and prolong their lives as much as possible.