How Long Do Cats Live?

Nobody wants to think about the day their pets will no longer be here, but it’s important to know how long you can expect to have with your animal.

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It’s pretty common for dog owners to know their pet’s life span based on breed and size, but what about cats?

Quick Answer…

On average, the lifespan for an indoor cat is around 15 years and the lifespan for an outdoor cat is only around 7 years. The length of a cat’s life depends on many factors, including diet, environment, overall health and whether the cat was spayed or neutered. Outdoor cats have significantly lower life spans due to the challenges and diseases they face.

How Long Can a Cat Live?

Given the averages above, it’s not uncommon for a cat to live past 20 years old. As of writing this, the oldest cat ever, Creme Puff, lived to be 38 years old! Looking at other record-holding cats, many of them lived past 20 and even 30.

Of course, it’s impossible to say exactly how long your cat will live, but there are a few factors that impact the length of a cat’s live. First, it depends on whether they live indoors or outdoors.

How Long Does an Indoor Cat Live?

Indoor cats typically live about three times longer than outdoor cats, with the average being around 15+ years. It’s important to remember this is still just an average, and many indoor cats end up living longer than this.

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This is due to a number of reasons, mainly the fact they’re in a safe environment and have access to food and clean water. Cats that live indoors are more likely to be sterilized, which reduces the risk for certain diseases, and they don’t face the same dangers outdoor cats do.

How Long Does an Outdoor Cat Live?

Cats that live outdoors face shorter lives due to all the uncertain elements they face in the wild. The average life for an outdoor cat is around 7 years, but some sources say it could be less than three.

A lot of outside cats get in fights with each other, causing them to suffer injuries. They’re also exposed to fleas, ticks and other parasites.

Outdoor cats face a variety of diseases that indoor cats would never come in contact with, like feline leukemia, feline distemper and rabies. If you’re planning for your cat to live outdoors, it’s especially important to keep them properly vaccinated against all of these diseases.

What Can I Do to Help My Cat Live Longer?

Knowing these average life expectancies for cats, there are a few things you can do to ensure your cat lives a long, healthy life.

Provide a Nutrient-Rich Diet

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need protein, not carbs or grains, to thrive. If your cat eats unnecessary fillers and carbohydrates, their health will suffer as a result — their bodies just aren’t made to digest grains.

Don’t worry if you aren’t sure about which cat foods are the best and which ones to avoid, we’ve done all the research for you here.

Feeding your cat a healthy diet also means you shouldn’t give them too many treats. Most treat bags tell you the maximum amount you could give your cat in one day, depending on their weight. The ASPCA states treats should represent 5% or less of a cat’s daily food intake. It’s important to follow these guidelines to lower your cat’s risk for obesity.

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Along with providing high-quality food, make sure your cat always has access to clean water. Some cats may not have any interest in a water bowl right next to their food bowls — my cats wouldn’t drink water left next to their food, so I put their water bowl on a separate table. You could also look into buying a pet fountain for your feline. Some cats prefer a moving water source.

In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, all cats should visit the vet regularly.

Ensure a Clean Bill of Health

This might go without saying, but all cats should be taken to the vet for their annual visits and kept up to date with vaccinations. As cats get older, their dietary and physical needs might change. Taking your cat for a yearly checkup not only makes sure they’re healthy, but it also and gives you the chance to get any necessary advice from the vet.

If you haven’t already, it’s important to get your cat spayed or neutered. Banfield Pet Hospital conducted a study and found that neutered male cats live, on average, 62% longer than unneutered males, while spayed females live 39% longer than unspayed ones. Having your cat fixed reduces the risk for certain diseases, and contributes to overall health benefits.

One part of your cat’s health that might be easily overlooked is dental health. If a cat’s teeth aren’t cleaned regularly, the bacterial buildup of gingivitis and plaque can lead to other health problems down the road. You can brush your cat’s teeth with a special toothpaste formulated for cats.

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Keep Your Cat Active

Cats need exercise, especially after laying around all day. Keep your feline entertained by investing in some toys and a cat condo — anything to get them active. Try to spend at least 10 minutes per day playing with your cat, too. They love the attention, and will get some needed exercise.

Keep Your Cat Indoors

As I mentioned above, indoor cats live much longer lives than outdoor cats because they’re in a safer environment.

Although you should keep cats inside, it’s still important to give them access to the sights and smells of the outdoors. If you live somewhere with a balcony or screened-in porch, allow your cat to hangout there — my cats love the balcony of my apartment. Any time I move, I make sure there’s a balcony so the cats are still able to venture outside.

If this isn’t an option for you, set up some kind of perch or table underneath a window. Your cat will keep itself entertained for hours on end staring out the window looking for all kinds of birds and bugs.

For someone who really doesn’t want to deprive their cat of going outside, train them to walk on a harness and leash. Yes, it’s possible. It’s better to start when the cat is young, so they get used to wearing the harness. I did this with a 5-month-old kitten and he absolutely loves going outside on his leash. At first, they might resist the harness but, once you’re outside, the cat is so distracted by everything going on he forgets it’s even there.

It’s impossible to say exactly how long your cat will live, but taking the steps above will help your cat live a healthy, fulfilled life.

Jacquelyn Pica

Jacquelyn Pica is cat mom to Bean Man Jones, a 2-year old adopted stray. She's also a top-notch pet writer based in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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