HEALTH & CARE

How Old is the Oldest Living Cat: 9 Secrets to Help Kitty Defy Age

Image showing an old cat getting rest in the sun on a wood
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

Cats offer us some of the most fulfilling friendships. They enrich our lives with their playful, loving, and loyal nature. They easily weave their way into our hearts, and we cannot fathom our lives without them. But cat parents often wonder just how long their felines will live. How old is the oldest living cat? What can I do to ensure my cat lives to such a ripe old age? These are some nagging questions that haunt many cat owners.

It is a heart-rending experience to lose a cat. Nothing prepares you for it. While death is inevitable to all living beings, there are sure ways of keeping this heartbreak at bay. A long, fulfilling life with kitty is possible. There are cat owners that are privileged to have their cats live well beyond the expected years. Just what are these people doing right? This is the question we seek to answer.

Close-up image of an old cat

A long, healthy feline life is not a myth. Cats simply require proper nurturing and care to live long. Yes, it is in your power to affect your cat’s lifespan! The secret lies in his diet, his vet appointments, his environment, his grooming, and many other factors. We will explore these ‘life-giving’ solutions in detail so you can be in your kitty’s company for a lot longer, but before that, let’s take a minute to see how the aging process goes in cats.

A Cat’s Aging Process

There exists a myth that says one year for a cat is equivalent to seven human years. While it is true that cats have a faster growth rate than humans, there is no scientific evidence to support the above conversion rate.

Kitten in a persons hands

Veterinarians and experts, however, agree that cats grow fastest within their first two years. Their growth then gradually slows down. To put their growing process in detail, it is important to understand that over the course of their life, cats develop through 6 life stages, from curious little kittens to old experienced cats.

  • Kittenhood: This is the period of 0 to 6 months

  • Junior: This is the growth period ranging from the cat’s first seven months to his first two years. Heightened emotional development is recorded at this stage.

  • Prime: Cats are in the prime of their lives at the age of three to six years.

  • Mature: This is the stage between seven to ten years.

  • Senior: The senior stage starts when a cat enters his 11th year and continues until he is 14 years old.

  • Geriatric: This stage runs between 15 to 21 years and above.

It is estimated that a one-year-old cat will be equivalent to a 10-15 years old human. A two-year-old cat, on the other hand, will be equal to a 25-year-old human. After the first two years, a cat’s growth rate declines significantly. Each year is thereafter equivalent to an average of four to five human years.

Ginger kitten relaxing in the garden on a sunny day

Although the aging process is uniform across all cats, the actual life expectancy differs depending on the kind of lifestyle that each individual cat leads. Outdoor cats have an average lifespan of 7 years. Indoor cats, on the other hand, have an average lifespan of 13 to 17 years. Some cats even easily live to see their 20th birthday.

The oldest cat recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records lived for a fulfilling 38 years and 3 days. Her name was Crème Puff. Her proud owner, Jake Perry, lived in Austin, Texas, USA. Indoor cats undoubtedly live longer than outdoor ones, and we shall explain in detail why this is the case.

Tips to Prolong Your Cat’s Life

Are you ready for some fantastic news? What if we told you that it is indeed possible for fluffy to live a long, healthy life, well past the average life expectancy for cats? You don’t have to settle for a short lifespan for your cat. We have compiled all the tips you need to make this a reality.

Keep Up with Kitty’s Veterinarian Visits

This is among the most important steps you can take to ensure you give your cat a long, healthy life. Make sure your cat gets all the recommended vaccinations. This will ensure they don’t contract diseases that could otherwise have been avoided.

veterinarian-hands-examining-kitten

During vet visits, cats also get physical examinations and are screened for various feline diseases. When detected early, your vet will be able to better recommend a treatment plan to either restore your cat to good health or manage the ailment. The frequency of these visits varies with your cat’s age.

  • Kittens. Up to the age of 16 weeks, kittens need to visit the vet every three to four weeks. During this time they will get a series of vaccinations and tests for diseases such as feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. Depending on your area of residence, your kittens may also get parasite prevention medication.

  • Adult Cats. Cats between the ages of one to ten years need to visit the vet annually. They get physical examinations and other tests to rule out any common feline diseases such as diabetes and arthritis.

  • Older Cats. Senior cats between the ages of ten and beyond need to visit the vet at least twice each year. Those battling feline diseases will need to visit the vet more frequently.

Keep Your Cat Indoors

Indoor cats outlive outdoor cats by an average of 7-10 years. This is because outdoor cats are prone to a myriad of hazards. These include catfights, infectious diseases, exposure to poisonous elements, parasite infections, wild animals, and injuries from vehicles and humans among others.

Kitten sitting at the window looking outside

If you want to enjoy a long life with your feline buddy, keep him indoors; it’s way too dangerous out there. What about his explorative nature that seeks to venture outdoors? Will my cat be happy if I keep him from being himself? We are glad you asked. There are several ways through which cat owners can give their indoor cat an outdoor experience:

  • Provide Perching Spots. Cats love to climb to lofty places and perch there. Make sure you have spots around your house where they can freely do this.

  • Keep Other Pets. Cats are playful and loving. They thrive best in some good company. Do not allow them to wallow in loneliness. Bring other cats or dogs on board and let them enjoy each other’s company. They might need time to get used to the new pet at first, but rest assured that a beautiful friendship will bloom eventually.

  • Allow Outdoor Walks. Take kitty for an outdoor walk each week. A trip to the woods will offer him a great outlet for his desire for the outdoors. Let him soak in some sun and fresh, crisp air.

  • Provide Scratching Posts. Provide an outlet for your kitty’s natural urge to scratch. Scratching on rough places helps cats remove the old layer from their claws. They will also be able to get in touch with their wild side.

  • Allow Kitty a Natural View. It’s a great idea to have a window overlooking a fascinating outside view. From this window, your cat can watch birds or a flowing water fountain.

  • Hide Treats for Kitty to Hunt. Leave your cat’s favorite treats hidden in spots all over the house. Encourage your cat to find them. In so doing, your cat will be thrilled to get in touch with his hunting instinct.

  • Offer Lots of Toys. Allow your cat access to a wide variety of stimulating toys. Change the toys frequently so that your cat does not get too used to them and relapse to boredom.

Provide a Healthy Lifestyle for Kitty

Just like humans, cats need a healthy lifestyle to thrive and live long. By crafting a healthy and comfortable living environment for them, chronic feline diseases can be avoided. There are three aspects to a cat’s healthy lifestyle:

Aspect #1: Proper Age-Specific Feline Diet

Make sure that the food you provide is appropriate for your cat’s age. Kittens will require food that stimulates their growth while older cats will thrive on fewer calories. Cats suffering from different ailments may also have specific diet restrictions you need to adhere to.

Kitten eating dry food out of the bowl

On that note, have you been serving kitty meals from the family’s dining table? We appreciate that you consider him a part of your family, but you are unknowingly crippling his health.

Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they require meat as their primary diet. Invest in feline foods that contain meat as the first ingredient. This will provide kitty with high-quality protein-packed nutrients—just what his body requires.

Aspect #2: Watch Kitty’s Weight

Chubby cats are really cute. We just can’t get enough of hugging their squishy body. But did you know that obesity in cats is highly dangerous? A 2016 survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention revealed that 59% of the cats in the United States are obese.

Obese cats are prone to various diseases like feline diabetes, arthritis, and heart diseases. They are also unable to groom properly—thus exposing them to skin conditions. If your cat is obese, you need to help him shed the extra weight. Your vet may recommend that you control their meal portions by scheduling feeding times. You should also offer them plenty of opportunities and places to exercise.

Kitten on a Weight scale

If, on the other hand, your cat is underweight, the first step is to find out the reason. Cats lose weight for various reasons. They may be battling an illness, a parasitic attack, or they may just be picky eaters.

With the help of your vet, seek to find out why your cat is underweight. Diseases and parasites should be treated. If the problem is poor feeding, provide kitty with high-calorie food. You can also offer him more treats. Your vet may also recommend feline supplements to boost kitty’s health.

Aspect #3: Encourage Water Intake

When it comes to drinking water, cats need a little coaxing. This is because wild cats rarely drink water. Rather, they get their fill from the food they eat—fresh meat harvested from hunted-down prey.

Cat looking through goldfish bowl

Indoor cats today, however, usually consume dry food. Therefore, they need to drink water directly from the bowls. Their bodies need to stay hydrated for proper functioning.

Always allow your cat access to fresh drinking water; cats resent stale water. You can entice kitty to drink up by providing a water fountain. Most cats will prefer moving water. You can also opt for wet cat food which is high in moisture. Adding water to dry cat food is another viable option.

Spay or Neuter Your Cat

Spaying/neutering increases your feline’s lifespan by an average of three to five years. Spaying/neutering can be safely done to kittens at the age of eight weeks and older. There are immense benefits that desexing your cat offers:

  • It prevents premature aging in cats as a result of uncontrolled breeding.

  • It helps keep your cat indoors. Intact males tend to escape in search of mates.

  • It helps ward off bad habits in your cat like spraying. Intact male cats mark their territories by spraying strong-smelling urine around the house.

  • Spaying/neutering helps prevent various health conditions in your feline. Such include reproductive cancers and uterine infections.

Ensure Regular Grooming

Grooming your cat regularly is another thing that will boost his health and thereby prolong his life. If your cat is long haired, brush him daily.

Owner grooming his cat

Brushing will offer the following benefits:

  • It gives you an opportunity to detect any skin abnormalities early

  • It helps distribute your cat’s natural oils, thus ensuring a healthy, shiny coat

  • It wards off external parasites

  • Brushing helps reduce hairballs in cats. As kitty grooms himself, his tongue tends to trap dead hair which he then swallows. Cats thereafter vomit to eject the hairballs—but not always. Sometimes the hairballs can cause intestinal blockage.

Ensure Kitty’s Dental Hygiene

Cats should have their teeth brushed regularly. In fact, most vets recommend brushing your feline’s teeth every day. A couple of times each week is also acceptable. Regular brushing will help prevent periodontal disease in your cat. This gum disease occurs as a result of accumulated food particles and bacteria in the feline’s gum.

Cute kitten examinated bt the vet

The bacteria of this disease can infiltrate the cat’s bloodstream and damage internal organs. It may also cause other nasty ailments in your kitty such as sinuses. Proper dental care will also save your cat the agony of toothaches and surgical teeth removal. Furthermore, if your kitty has painful gums, they will not want to eat. This will impact their health greatly.

Many cat owners consider it a daunting practice. If started early, however, your cat will adapt to the practice. You should only use feline toothpaste and a soft cat toothbrush; don’t use toothpaste and toothbrush designed for humans.

Protect Kitty from Toxic Substances

Cats love to explore. It is important to ensure that their environment is free from any form of harmful substances. Our homes often have plenty of products that are highly toxic to cats.

Image showing household cleaners

These include household cleaners, pesticides, human drugs, and certain metals among others. Keep your cat away from these. There are also some plants like the Amaryllis or the English Ivy that are toxic to cats.

Be Hawk-Eyed and Note Behavioral Changes

Cats are experts at hiding their tribulations. They will often not make a fuss when they are unwell. You are, however, bound to notice a change in some of their behavior.

Image of a cat that looks lethargic

If you notice that your cat is less playful, looks lethargic, or suddenly won’t eat, be on the lookout. Behavioral changes should be reported to the vet as soon as possible in order to diagnose the problem at hand.

Bond with Your Cat

Cats that receive lots of affection from their owners are happier and less prone to depression. Create a loving relationship with your feline. Give him reassuring cuddles and praise him often. Your cat will be too happy to give up on life.

Wrap Up

Have you been wondering why some felines live on and on? This article seeks to let you in on the secret of ensuring your feline lives to a ripe old age. The gift of long life is not reserved for a select few lucky cats. It is possible to help your cat live well into their old age if you know how to best take care of them. Cats develop at a much faster rate than humans. Understanding their growth rate is critical in offering them the recommended care in all stages of their lives.

We have delved into nine ways through which cat parents can prolong their cat’s lives. When all is said and done, the quality of life your cat leads is up to you. If you give kitty the right care, you will reap the benefits of having him around for much longer.

Two cats on a european street

Regular vet visits, spaying/neutering, a healthy lifestyle, keeping kitty indoors, regular grooming, and proper dental care will allow your feline to lead a healthy, long life. It’s nothing complicated; it all boils down to proper everyday feline care.

We hope this information has offered great hope to you. You don’t have to live in fear of your cat’s impending demise. You can offer him a new lease on life. Cats are, after all, said to have nine lives, aren’t they?

How old is your cat? Have you had a cat that has lived longer than you expected? What did you do differently? Do let us in on any additional tips for a long, healthy feline life. See you in the comments!

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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