HEALTH & CARE

Ying Average Lifespan of a Cat: How to Make the Most of Your Feline Friend’s Company

Image showing little kitty enjoying the sun
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

We all enjoy the company of our feline friends and want to keep them around us for as long as possible. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. Although you may not want to think about the average lifespan of a cat because you don’t want to be reminded that the fun times will come to an end eventually, this information is actually very important and useful. We daresay you can even prolong your cat’s lifespan if you keep yourself well-informe

Understanding how a cat’s lifespan works will allow us to take better care of them as they proceed through different life stages. Taking care of a kitten and an older cat is not the same. Your cat’s needs change during her lifespan, and you have to know how to address them. Giving them the right care as they grow older will help you spend more time enjoying life with your kitty.

Image showing mother cat and her kitty

In this article, you will learn about which factors affect a cat’s lifespan, what the different stages in a cat’s life are, and you will also learn about some of the most common diseases in older cats and how to spot them in time so that you can prolong your cat’s life expectancy. Knowing what changes to expect in aging cat and how to keep them healthy and active will allow you to have more time in your cat’s company.

How Long Do Cats Live on Average?

Depending on the cat’s living conditions, the average lifespan varies significantly:

  • Indoor-only cats live the longest. Their average lifespan is around 14-17 years. Some cats live well over 20 years.

  • In the middle, we have indoor/outdoor cats—namely cats who live inside but occasionally venture to the great outdoors. Their average lifespan ranges from 7-10 years.

  • Stray cats—with the lack of shelter, food, and someone to take care of them—usually won’t live to see their 5th birthday.

Fortunately, just because a cat is considered old at the age of ten, doesn’t mean that her life is going to end soon. One example is Lucy, who was reportedly born in 1972 in South Wales. She was 39 years old when she passed away, and her lifespan was three times longer than the average lifespan of a cat. The 2010 Guinness World Record holder, Cream Puff, is widely regarded as the oldest cat ever. She passed away in 2005, three days after her 38th birthday.

Black and orange cats playing together

These two cats are examples that you can beat the old age with an even older age, and that there are always possibilities that your kitty will outlive the average lifespan of a cat. Having an older cat doesn’t need to mean that your time together is going to end soon.

The average lifespan of a cat can be prolonged if you understand the changes your cat goes through as years go by. As cats get older, they experience physiological changes, and it is important for you to notice them so you could provide better care for your kitty.

How to Prolong the Lifespan of a Cat

We all want our cat to be with us, even if just for a day longer. Now that you know how old your cat will generally live to be, it’s time we answer the question that must’ve been burning quite fiercely in the back of your mind: how to prolong the lifespan of your cat.

Know What Life Stage Your Cat is At

Information is the key to winning any battle—even one against time. This chart will show you how old your cat is in human years and her exact life stage.

Age Of CatHuman EquivalentLife StageActivity Level
1 year15 yearsKittenVery active
2 year24 yearsJuniorVery active
5 year36 yearsPrimeActive
7 years45 yearsMatureActive
12 years64 yearsSeniorLess active
From 15 years76 years and moreGeriatricLess active

What plays a big role in the average lifespan of a cat is knowing her exact needs in different stages of her life. Changing your cat food to fit her age and her physical activity level, taking her to the vet more often, being aware of the diseases which are common in older cats, are all necessary for maintaining your older feline’s health so they can stay with you for many years to come.

Monitor Your Cat’s Diet

Now that you know which life stage your cat is in, you should focus on fulfilling her needs suitably. The key to prolonging the average lifespan of a cat who is now a senior citizen in your household is by maintaining her health. The best way to that is with a balanced diet.

fluffy cat eating wet food

The older your cat gets, her senses of smell and taste get more reduced, and so does her appetite. There are several ways you can ensure that your cat eats regularly so her health stays under control:

  • If your vet doesn’t have other recommendations for your cat, choose the best senior cat food available

  • Offer smaller but more frequent meals

  • Heat the food to room temperature

  • If your cat has dental problems, change her diet to soft food

Try talking to your cat while she eats and attempt to offer her to eat from your hand. That way you can not only be sure of how much food your kitty eats, but also deepen the bond between you.

Make Sure She is Well-Hydrated

Older cats are at a higher risk of getting dehydrated, so it is important to provide your kitty with easily accessible water. To make sure that your cat drinks water, it is advisable to put several bowls around the house so she can have easy access.

Help Her Groom

As your cat gets older, she becomes less agile, and grooming can become difficult. Cats that can’t groom will quickly get stressed out. Therefore, you will have to resume her daily grooming habits.

woman brushing her cat

Use a soft brush or a fine comb to make grooming less painful, and make sure that you take care of any mats. Grooming your cat daily will give you a chance to examine the condition of her skin and feel for any lumps or sores that need to be checked by the vet.

Also, you will have to inspect the state of your cat’s nails. Older cats have less ability to retract their claws, and they can be stuck in carpets or furniture. Check the length of your cat’s nails few times a month, and if you are afraid to trim them yourself, take your kitty to the vet so they can do it for you.

Exercise Her to a Reasonable Degree

An older cat requires more rest, but she still needs her curiosity satisfied with fun activities. If your cat isn’t suffering from arthritis, she should still be able to run and jump around. Take out her favorite toys and enjoy fun times together.

A cat playing with a toy mouse

If your cat is overweight, play time is a great way to burn excess calories and build muscles. It is important to challenge your older cat daily. Use larger toys that will encourage your cat to grab them in a hug and kick them with her back legs. This is a great exercise for stiff limbs and provides great entertainment for your kitty.

Don’t be disappointed if you find your cat sleeping when it’s supposed to be your play date, though. Perhaps she’s feeling tired that day and would like to catch up on her beauty sleep.

Help Improve Her Overall Lifestyle

Indoor only cats live so long because they are protected from external factors like car accidents, fights with other cats, poisoning, and various diseases. They have easy access to fresh water and food, and their diet is healthy and balanced. The most important thing is that their owners realize quickly if their cat is acting strangely and then will take her to the vet immediately.

Image of a cat laying on the floor in apartment

A stress-free environment and the constant love and attention they receive also add to the average lifespan of a cat who lives indoors. On the other hand, indoor/outdoor cats have a shorter lifespan than indoor cats because they are at constant risk when they leave the safety of your home.

Car accidents, fights with other cats for territory or females, and predators all have an impact on the average lifespan of a cat who ventures outdoors. If there are no hopes of training your cat to stay inside all the time, the best thing to do is to restrict her comings and goings during the night.

Regular Checkups

Regular veterinary checkups are important and play a big role in the average lifespan of a cat. Older cats should visit their vet once a year if they are healthy, and more often if they suffer from some conditions. It is significant that your vet performs body condition evaluations. Doing that will show if your cat is overweight, underweight, or if her weight is ideal.

Your cat’s weight can indicate other underlying problems, so it is beneficial for your kitty’s health that you keep tabs on any changes. You can ask the vet to show you how to evaluate your kitty’s body condition at home. Your vet can explain what changes you may expect from your cat as she ages, talk to you about the best dietary choices, run necessary tests, and give your kitty vaccines.

Image of a cat at the vet for a regural control

Prevention is better than cure. If you can spot any underlying medical conditions in their early stages and nip that problem in the bud, your cat stands a better chance of living to a ripe old age. Catching the first signs of diseases can significantly prolong the average lifespan of a cat. Older cats are more susceptible to some diseases because of the gradual decrease in organ function. If you notice that something is different in your kitty’s behavior, don’t assume that it is simply because she is old. It can be the first sign of an illness.

Below we will give you a summary of some common old age diseases that you need to watch out for. All of the following diseases are treatable, and if caught on time, they won’t affect your kitty’s quality of life and her life expectancy.

Common Diseases #1: Dental Disease

Dental diseases are common in older cats. Owners often don’t know how important it is to keep their kitty’s teeth clean. Regular teeth brushing from a young age can prevent the development of dental problems in older cats.

An orange cat showing us her theet

If your cat can’t get used to a brush, there are plenty of other options, like dental gels, wipes and rinse.  Taking care of your cat’s teeth is important for her overall health, so if you notice that your cat has difficulties eating, check her teeth right away.

Common Diseases #2: Hyperthyroidism

The first signs of hyperthyroidism in cats are weight loss with noticeably increased appetite, as well as restless and nervous behavior. Cats that are suffering from this disease can’t get enough food to maintain them, and if the signs are not noticed in time hyperthyroidism can lead to serious heart problems.

Image of a cat walking on a park road

If caught on time hyperthyroidism is easily treatable. There are three methods for treating this disease: trans-dermal gel, thyroidectomy, and radio-iodine. Your vet will consider which one is best for your kitty. The most important thing is that you notice the symptoms in time and start treating your kitty because this can be a life-threatening condition if not treated.

Common Diseases #3: Chronic Kidney Disease

Increased water consumption and urinating, weight loss, lethargy, and vomiting are all the first signs of a chronic kidney disease. As your cat ages, their kidneys lose the ability to concentrate the urine effectively. The cause can also be some toxin or infection. The course of treatment can vary depending on the severeness of your cat’s case.

tabby-cat-drinking water

Kidney disease can’t be reversed, but if your cat had this kind of problem earlier in her life, you could take steps to prevent the course of the disease. Regular water consumption and a special diet that is low in salt can help your cat keep her kidneys healthy for years to come.

Common Diseases #4: Hypertension

Hypertension mostly occurs in older cats, and it is often associated with kidney disease and hyperthyroidism. If not detected in time, hypertension can lead to severe problems like blindness, stroke, heart, and kidney problems. High blood pressure has no visible signs that you can notice—that’s why it is important to take your kitty to regular vet checkups. Your vet will notice a heart murmur or changes inside your cat’s eye.

Image of an orange cat at the vet

The treatment for high blood pressure is oral blood pressure medicine. It may take time for your vet to find just the right dose for your kitty, and frequent visits are required until that happens. If caught on time, high blood pressure is treatable, so don’t miss your kitty’s regular vet appointments.

Common Diseases #5: Feline Diabetes

Feline diabetes is a complex disorder, and in recent years many cats were diagnosed with it. Although cats of any age can be affected by diabetes, most of the diagnosed cats are more than ten years old. Common factors for feline diabetes are obesity, genetic predisposition, and pancreatitis.

Image of a very fat cat

The first signs of diabetes are increased thirst, loss of appetite, depression, unkempt looking fur and urinating outside the litter box. High protein diet and insulin shots are the common courses of treatment. Many cats achieve control over diabetes only by making changes in their diet. If your kitty develops diabetes, the good news is that she can still live a long and normal life.

Common Diseases #6: Arthritis

Although it is normal for your older cat to sleep more and move less, signs like stiffing limbs, inability to jump, and trouble grooming can be a cause for worry. Arthritis is a reason for painful degenerative changes in your kitty’s shoulders, elbows, hips, and spine.

cat-lying-down-on-wooden-windowsill-

This condition is very painful, and it is important that you don’t miss the signs that your cat is no longer able to do things that were normal, like jumping on chairs, or her favorite place by the window. Your vet can diagnose arthritis by taking x-rays of your cat. Although this condition isn’t curable, with the right painkillers, your kitty can live long after she is diagnosed.

Common Diseases #7: Cancer

Older cats are more likely to develop cancer. That doesn’t mean that your cat will have it, but we must mention it here. There are many types of cancer and just like in humans, early diagnosis plays a big role in the outcome. So don’t skip your vet appointments, and check any changes in your kitty’s behavior. If you notice any lumps, take your cat to the vet right away.

Wrap Up

Cats age the same way we do. Their bodies become weaker and more susceptible to diseases. A once playful kitty may no longer be able to keep up with your fun routines and would prefer to sleep all day. Her nails are brittle, and her fur is not so shiny anymore.

All cats who are becoming seniors display certain behavior. They are less active, they sleep more, their appetite is not what it used to be, and even your cat’s favorite food doesn’t seem to interest her. Lack of grooming and insecurity are also signs that your cat is getting older and that she requires a different type of care.

All these are subtle changes, and they don’t occur overnight, but if you notice something dramatically different about your older cat, take her to the vet. A balanced diet, activities, and regular veterinary check-ups are the key to having your cat healthy longer than the average.

Image showing a cat-rolling

You have learned what the average lifespan of a cat is, and what can affect it. Also, you’ve learned how to tell when your kitty is starting to get old, what the common diseases for older cats are, and how to recognize the first signs. Besides that, you now know that there is a possibility that your kitty will live longer than the average cat.

The time we have with our beloved feline friends may be limited, but with the right tender loving care, we can make the most of it.

How old is your cat? How have you been taking care of her? If you have some tips on how to keep senior cats healthy and strong for years to come, let us and our readers know in the comments section below.

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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