Can Cats Really Live to 40? The Truth About Feline Longevity

Typical Cat Lifespan

The average lifespan for domestic cats ranges between 12-18 years, with some variation based on factors like indoor versus outdoor living. According to the ASPCA, indoor cats generally live to around 15-20 years old, while outdoor cats average 2-5 years.

A study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery found the median lifespan of pet cats in the United Kingdom was 14 years. [1] Another study of pet cats in Sweden put the median lifespan at 16.9 years for indoor cats and 13.6 years for those with outdoor access.

Clearly, keeping cats indoors provides some protection against diseases, cars, predators and other hazards, enabling them to live longer. But genetics, diet, veterinary care and other factors also play a role in determining longevity.

Factors That Influence Longevity

There are several key factors that can affect how long a cat lives:


Some cat breeds typically live longer than others. For example, Siamese cats often live into their mid-teens, while Maine Coon cats can live 15 years or more. Mixed breed domestic cats tend to fall somewhere in the middle with an average lifespan of around 14 years (Source).


Providing a balanced, high-quality diet supports overall health and can add years to a cat’s life. Wet and dry food formulated specifically for cats at different life stages helps ensure they get the nutrients they need. Avoiding obesity and not overfeeding cats also promotes longevity (Source).

Veterinary Care

Regular veterinary checkups and preventative care like dental cleanings, vaccinations, and parasite control allow early detection and treatment of any health issues. This proactive healthcare can help cats live longer, healthier lives.

Activity Levels

Keeping cats active and enriched, both mentally and physically, can contribute to their lifespan. Interactive playtime and opportunities to exercise prevent obesity and provide mental stimulation.


Indoor cats generally live longer than outdoor cats who face more dangers. Providing a safe, comfortable home environment reduces cats’ risk of injury, illness, or predation.

Documented Cases of Long-Lived Cats

While the average lifespan for domestic cats ranges between 12-18 years, there are well-documented cases of cats that have lived significantly longer. Two notable record holders are Creme Puff, who lived to the amazing age of 38 years old, and Granpa Rex Allen, who reached 34 years of age.

Creme Puff holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest cat ever. She was born on August 3, 1967 and lived with her owner Jake Perry in Austin, Texas. According to a report from MSNBC News, Creme Puff was still in good health when she died in 2005 at the ripe old age of 38 years and 3 days [1].

Another remarkably long-lived feline was Granpa Rex Allen, a Maine Coon cat who was born in Paris, France in 1964. He passed away at the age of 34 years and 2 months in 1998. Granpa Rex Allen lived with his owners in England during his long life [2].

Health Issues in Senior Cats

As cats age, they become more prone to certain health problems. Some of the most common health issues seen in senior cats include:

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is very prevalent in older cats. According to, by 15 years of age, up to 80% of cats will have developed some degree of kidney disease1. As the kidneys lose function, they are unable to adequately filter waste products from the blood. This leads to an accumulation of toxins that make the cat ill. Treatment focuses on managing clinical signs and slowing further kidney damage.


Hyperthyroidism results from an overproduction of thyroid hormone and affects up to 10% of geriatric cats1. The excess thyroid hormone speeds up the cat’s metabolism, leading to unintended weight loss and other systemic issues. Treatment options include medication, prescription diets, and surgical removal of the thyroid gland.


Cancer is unfortunately common in older cats. Some of the most prevalent cancers include lymphoma, mammary gland tumors, and squamous cell carcinoma. Treatment depends on the type and stage of cancer, and may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or palliative care.


Degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis are very common in geriatric cats. According to, 90% of cats over 12 years old have arthritis1. While some cats will show obvious lameness and difficulty moving, many cats are stoic and hide their discomfort. Providing soft bedding, keeping an ideal body weight, and administering joint supplements or anti-inflammatories can help manage arthritis.


Caring for a Geriatric Cat

Caring for an elderly cat requires some special considerations to keep them healthy and happy in their golden years. As cats age, their nutritional needs change and they require specialized senior diets. According to, senior cats often do better with high-protein, low-carb food that is easy to digest. More frequent vet visits are also important to monitor their health and catch any issues early.

Keeping senior cats active is also key. Create ramps and easy access to their favorite spots. Encourage playtime and exercise to keep their muscles and joints limber. Cats can remain playful well into their senior years with the right encouragement. Providing puzzle toys and new objects to explore also stimulates their mind. With the proper care and enrichment, geriatric cats can continue to lead fulfilling lives.

Is 40 Years Realistic?

While a cat living to 40 years old is extremely rare, it is theoretically possible. The oldest verified cat lifespan on record is 38 years old, belonging to a cat named Creme Puff who lived from 1967 to 2005 (source). However, cases like Creme Puff are highly exceptional.

In general, indoor cats living 15-20 years is considered quite long-lived in the modern era. Advances in feline nutrition and veterinary care over the past few decades have extended average lifespans, so more cats are reaching their late teens and early 20s. But making it to 40, while not impossible, would require very fortunate genetics and near-perfect care throughout the cat’s life.

While expectations for feline longevity are improving, cat owners should be aware that 40 years falls far outside the normal range. With excellent care, some cats may live into their late 20s or even 30s, but four decades remains extremely uncommon.

Breeds with Long Lifespans

Certain cat breeds are known for their longevity and ability to live well into their late teens or even early 20s. Some of the breeds with the longest documented lifespans include:

Siamese – With an average lifespan of 15-20 years, Siamese cats often live well into their late teens or early 20s. Their intelligent and affectionate nature keeps them engaged and active into old age. According to The Spruce Pets, the oldest known Siamese cat lived to be 29 years old.

Manx – Tailless Manx cats are robust and resilient, typically living 12-15 years on average. There are reports of Manx cats exceeding 20 years when kept indoors and properly cared for. Their wide genetic pool contributes to their longevity.

Persian – The Persian breed is known for a long-living lineage extending back centuries, with some cats reaching the ripe old age of 23. Their relatively calm demeanor and adaptability help Persians live happily into old age.

Burmese – With a life expectancy of 15-20 years, Burmese often thrive into their late teens. Their affectionate and playful personality keeps them energetic and engaged. According to studies, indoor Burmese cats can live up to 24 years old with proper care.

Lifestyle Tips

There are several things you can do to help extend your cat’s lifespan through lifestyle adjustments:

Keep vaccinations current – Core vaccines like rabies, distemper and upper respiratory vaccines help protect cats from dangerous preventable diseases. Keeping them up to date is crucial for longevity according to experts at

Feed high-quality food – Cats need a species-appropriate, high-moisture diet to thrive. Feed both wet and dry food formulated for your cat’s age and provide clean water daily according to CedarCide.

Provide enrichment – Keep your cat active mentally and physically. Provide toys, scratching posts, cat trees and playtime. This strengthens their mind and body.

Annual vet visits – Regular checkups allow early detection of health issues. Annual exams, bloodwork and dental cleanings protect long-term health.

Common Myths

One common myth about cats is that they have nine lives. This myth likely stems from cats’ ability to survive falls and injuries that would be fatal to other animals. However, there is no scientific evidence that cats have nine lives. Just like any other living creature, a cat has only one life. While cats may display occasional luck in dodging peril, there is no proven supernatural or superstitious element involved. A cat’s ability to survive mishaps depends on factors like age, health, the severity of the incident, and quick access to veterinary care. So while the nine lives myth endures culturally, it has no basis in medical science or biology.

The Takeaway

While a lifespan of 40 years is exceptionally rare, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for a cat in ideal health and living conditions. However, the average domestic cat can live a long and healthy life of 15-20 years with proper care and some luck on their side.

The key factors to helping cats live a long life are providing them with regular veterinary care, a nutritious diet tailored for their age and activity level, daily exercise through play and environmental enrichment, and nurturing their overall wellbeing through affection and mental stimulation. With diligence from caring owners, it’s realistic for many cats to reach or exceed 20 years, even if 40 remains an extreme rarity.

While genetics play a role, there is much owners can do to maximize their cat’s lifespan. Focus on preventative care, nutrition, an enriched lifestyle, and tender loving care – your cat has a good chance to have many years by your side. For the exceptional cats like Creme Puff who make it to ages past 30 or even 40 years, it seems to be a combination of fantastic genes, a perfect environment, and quite a bit of luck. But for most cats, aiming for a well-cared for 15 to 20+ years is an achievable goal.

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