The 9 Lives of Cats. How Long Our Feline Friends Usually Live

Typical Lifespan

The average lifespan for a pet cat is approximately 13 to 17 years
Life stages.
However, the lifespan varies significantly based on breed, whether the cat is kept indoors or outdoors, and general health.

Indoor cats generally live longer than outdoor cats. The average lifespan of an indoor cat is 15-17 years, while outdoor cats live an average of just 2-5 years
How long do cats live? | Cat life stages.
Indoor cats are not exposed to the dangers posed by weather, traffic, predators, parasites, toxins, and communicable diseases. They also tend to get more preventive veterinary care.

Factors Affecting Lifespan

A cat’s lifespan depends on several key factors including breed, indoor vs outdoor lifestyle, spay/neuter status, and health/veterinary care.

Some cat breeds like Siamese and Persian tend to live longer, with average lifespans of 15-20 years, while breeds like Maine Coon have shorter average lifespans of 10-13 years. Mixed breed cats fall somewhere in the middle.1

Cats who live exclusively indoors typically live longer, around 15-17 years on average, compared to outdoor cats who live just 2-5 years. Indoor cats are protected from diseases, cars, fights with other cats, and other hazards.2

Spaying/neutering is crucial, as unaltered cats have a higher risk of disease and tend to roam outdoors more often. On average, neutered male cats live 62% longer and spayed female cats live 39% longer than unneutered cats.3

Regular vet visits for preventive care like vaccines and dental cleanings help cats live longer, healthier lives. Cats with chronic illnesses may have shorter lifespans if the diseases are not well-managed.2


The first year of a kitten’s life is full of rapid growth and development. According to the PAWS Developmental Stages of Kitten Behavior guide, kittens go through several distinct phases in their first 12 months:

From birth to 2 weeks is the Neonatal phase where kittens are completely dependent on their mother. They nurse frequently and sleep 90% of the time. Their eyes open around 8-14 days.

From 2-7 weeks is the Socialization period. Kittens will start to play and interact with their littermates. They learn important social skills through play. Vaccinations can begin at 6-8 weeks of age. Kittens should receive vaccines for panleukopenia virus, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis virus, and rabies.

From 3-6 months is the Ranking period where kittens continue to play to establish social ranking and boundaries. They start exploring the world outside the nest at around 2 months. At 3-4 months they begin losing their baby teeth.

From 6-18 months is Adolescence. Kittens reach sexual maturity between 6-10 months. They have high energy levels and continue establishing independence. By 12 months their adult teeth are present.

According to the Alley Cat kitten progression guide, kittens hit major milestones during their first 4 months. At 4 weeks they start eating solid food and using the litterbox. By 8 weeks they have all their baby teeth and can regulate their own body temperature. At 3-4 months they are fully weaned from their mother.

Senior Cats

Cats are generally considered senior once they reach 11 years of age (PetMD). As cats enter their senior years, there are some key health considerations pet owners should keep in mind.

One of the biggest health concerns for aging cats is kidney disease. Senior cats’ kidneys are less efficient at concentrating urine, so they tend to drink more water and urinate more frequently (Ferguson Animal Hospital). Annual bloodwork and urinalysis tests can help monitor kidney function in senior cats.

Joint health is another important consideration. Like humans, cats can develop arthritis as they age. Signs include difficulty jumping up to favorite spots, decreased activity levels, and discomfort moving around. Veterinarians may recommend joint supplements or prescription medications to keep senior cats comfortable.

Dental disease is more prevalent in older cats as well. Regular teeth cleanings and dental checkups are advised to prevent painful dental issues from arising.

In addition to more frequent vet visits for preventive care, keeping senior cats mentally and physically active with play, exercise, and environmental enrichment can go a long way toward maintaining their health and vitality.

Oldest Cat on Record

The oldest cat ever verified was Creme Puff, who lived to be 38 years and 3 days old. Creme Puff was born on August 3, 1967 and lived with her owner Jake Perry in Austin, Texas until passing away on August 6, 2005. According to the Guinness World Records, Creme Puff’s astounding longevity can likely be attributed to a diet of dry cat food supplemented with broccoli, eggs, turkey bacon, and coffee. Additionally, Jake Perry took excellent care of Creme Puff and provided her with a stress-free indoor environment.

The current oldest living cat is Flossie, who is 26 years old as of November 2022. While not close to Creme Puff’s record, Flossie offers some tips for a long feline life. Her owner credits her longevity to genetics, lots of love and care, and a diet of human-grade pet food. Keeping cats like Flossie indoors, stimulating their minds through play, and providing routine vet care can also help them live to ripe old ages.


Proper nutrition is crucial for cats to live a long and healthy life. Feeding your cat a high-quality diet designed specifically for their life stage can help maximize lifespan. According to a Purina study, cats fed a nutritionally balanced diet lived on average 1 year longer than cats fed unbalanced diets.

Look for cat foods that list real meat as the first ingredient and avoid fillers like corn, wheat, and soy. Wet food also provides moisture to help with hydration. Follow the feeding guidelines on the package based on your cat’s age and weight.

As cats get older, their metabolism changes and they require fewer calories. Switch to a senior formula at around 7 years old. Senior diets have increased protein and extra vitamins like antioxidants to support immune health and joint function. By feeding an age-appropriate diet, you can keep your aging cat active and maintain a healthy weight.

While homecooked meals may seem appealing, it’s extremely difficult to meet all of a cat’s nutritional needs without veterinary supervision. Unless specifically recommended by your vet for a medical condition, it’s best to feed a nutritionally complete commercial cat food. Quality cat food provides balanced nutrition scientifically shown to increase lifespan.

(Source: Purina Longevity Study)

Exercise & Play

Regular exercise and playtime are very important for cats to live long, healthy lives. According to research, just one hour of play per day can increase a cat’s lifespan by up to 4 hours ( Playtime provides both physical and mental stimulation that helps keep cats fit and active as they age.

The amount of activity a cat needs varies by age – kittens and younger cats need more active playtime and exercise than senior cats. According to one study, there is an age-related decline in physical activity in cats as they get older ( But regular playtime and exercise tailored to their age and ability is important at all life stages.

Playtime provides many benefits for cats. It helps prevent obesity, which can shorten lifespans. It strengthens muscles and joints, improves balance and coordination, and keeps the cardiovascular system healthy. Mentally, play relieves boredom and stress and enhances cognitive function. Interactive playtime with owners also strengthens the human-animal bond.

Preventive Vet Care

Preventive vet care is crucial for cats to live a long and healthy life. Regular vet visits allow early detection and treatment of medical issues before they become serious. Vaccines, dental care, and annual checkups are key components of preventive care for cats.

Vaccines help prevent dangerous infectious diseases in cats. Core vaccines recommended for all cats include rabies, panleukopenia virus, calicivirus, and herpesvirus. Other non-core vaccines may be advised based on lifestyle and risk factors. Kittens need a series of vaccines and boosters in their first year while adult cats need routine boosters every 1-3 years.

Dental care is another important part of preventive vet visits. An annual dental exam and cleaning can prevent painful dental disease and infection. Cats also benefit from regular brushing at home to remove plaque.

Most veterinarians recommend annual checkups for adult cats. More frequent vet visits every 6 months may be advised for senior cats over age 7. Annual exams allow evaluation of overall health and early detection of conditions like kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, heart disease, and cancer. Diagnostic screening tests like bloodwork, urinalysis, and dental exams are often part of the annual visit.

Preventive care allows cats to live longer, healthier lives. Following the recommended schedule of vaccines, dental care, and checkups is the best way to catch problems early and optimize longevity.

Common Health Issues

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

Kidney Disease – Chronic kidney disease is very prevalent in older cats. As the kidneys gradually lose function, cats cannot effectively eliminate waste products from their blood. This leads to buildup of toxins and can cause symptoms like increased thirst, weight loss, poor appetite, and vomiting.1

Cancer – Senior cats are at higher risk for developing certain cancers like lymphoma and mammary tumors. Warning signs can include lumps under the skin, abnormal swelling, weight loss, and lethargy. Catching cancer early greatly improves the prognosis.2

Dental Disease – Dental problems are common in older cats. Accumulation of tartar and plaque can lead to inflamed gums, tooth decay and loss, and oral pain. Regular dental cleanings help prevent issues.3

Obesity – Obesity can exacerbate age-related joint issues and diabetes. Keeping senior cats at a healthy weight via diet and exercise is important for their mobility and quality of life.

Making Their Golden Years Comfortable

As cats reach their senior years, there are some steps pet parents can take to help keep them comfortable and happy:

Managing pain – Older cats often suffer from arthritis and joint pain. Talk to your vet about anti-inflammatory medications or supplements that can help reduce inflammation and discomfort. Providing cozy, soft bedding can also help take pressure off sore joints.

Environmental modifications – Senior cats have changing needs. Place litter boxes on each level of your home for easy access. Use lower-sided boxes for easier entry/exit. Consider cat stairs/ramps to help them access furniture and beds more easily. Keep food and water bowls in easy-to-reach areas.

Keeping them active and engaged – Interactive play encourages movement and cognitive stimulation. Try toys that move unpredictably to maintain interest but aren’t too fast-moving. Food puzzle toys provide mental exercise. Catnip and treats can also spark joy. Give plenty of affection and quality time.

With some adjustments and tender loving care, you can ensure your aging feline friend stays as content and comfortable as possible.

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