How to Increase Your Cat Lifespan? The Surprising Truth

What influences cat lifespan most?

The leading cause of death in cats is from road accidents related to runaway situations.

So if you want to keep your cat alive longer, the best thing you can do is to keep your cat secured in your home.

In short:

Keep track of your cat!

Not only that but parasites from interaction with feral cats impact your cat’s health. Cats are also a hazard to the environment and wildlife.

Keeping your cat at a healthy weight with a high moisture and protein diet also helps your cat stay healthy.

Cat lifespan

In this article, I’ll go into detail about how you can increase your cat’s lifespan.

I’ll talk more about lifespan expectations, risk factors to longevity, and practical steps to take in keeping your cat healthy.

My name is Derrick, and I write for Simply Cat Care. Our goal with this website is to help cat owners learn more about taking care of their cats.

I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions relating to your cat’s health.

Let’s get into the article:

1. How long do cats live?

The average domestic cat lives between 13-17 years based on research on 4,009 cats passing away in England. The medium lifespan of cats is 14 years.

Your cat’s breed affects its lifespan:

Crossbred cats live slightly longer (14 years average) than purebred cats (12.5 years).

The longest-lived breeds of cats are the Birmans, who live a robust 16 years.  

Some breeds are more prone to a shorter lifespan for a variety of health and lifestyle reasons:

Bengals lived just over 7 years old, and Abyssian cats lived 10 years.

If you have a Bengal, check out my article on the best food for Bengals to learn more about feeding a Bengal for top health.

Cats have a longer lifespan under the right conditions. The world records for cat lifespan go past 20 years, with the longest living cat (Creme Puff) living an astonishing 38 years.

From 1994-2004, researchers found a two-fold increase in cat longevity among pet cats older than 6 years of age.

This is due to improvements in nutrition and vet care.

2. What factors determine a cat’s lifespan?

Road accidents are the main cause of death in cats.

In a study of domestic cats brought into a Canadian veterinary clinic, trauma was the cause of 39% of deaths in cats. The majority of those (87%) cases with related to road accidents.  

Aside from road accidents, cats are also susceptible to other problems such as:

  • Kidney disease (12.1% of total cat deaths)
  • Illness and infection (11.2%)
  • Neoplasia (i.e. tumors) (10.8%)
  • Mass lesion disorders (e.g. warts and cysts) (10.2%)

Another study using an animal-borne camera with cats in a suburban area in the United States found that 45% of cats crossed a road during the monitoring period.

To see what cats were doing, the National Geographic channel attached a GPS to cats

It turns out some of the cats were clocking up the frequent flyer miles. Whilst a few cats stayed close to home, some of the cats went for trips around the neighborhood.

One cat even went for a 1-mile expedition to its previous home to find its owners that left for the weekend.

These cat adventures may seem like ‘natural’ things for a cat but can result in missing animals and reduced lifespan.

3. Do indoor cats live longer than outdoor cats?

Yes, indoor cats have a longer lifespan than outdoor cats. An indoor cat, as you may have guessed is a cat kept secured in a home or apartment.

Indoor cats have a better average lifespan than outdoor cats due to reducing exposure to outdoor hazards such as vehicles.

Whilst keeping your cat indoors benefits lifespan it is important to keep an indoor cat active to prevent weight gain.

An indoor cat needs an opportunity to remain active if kept inside and cannot leave the house.

Cat trees and/or outdoor enclosures are ways to increase indoor cats’ activity levels (e.g. catio).

4. What other things increase a cat’s lifespan?

There are many things linked to a longer lifespan in cats.

A few examples include:

  • Female cats live longer than male cats (15 vs 13 years)
  • Neutered cats live longer (15 vs 11 years)
  • Crossbred cats tend to live longer than purebreeds

Crossbreed cats live longer due to a hypothesized hybrid vigor

The idea of hybrid vigor is that there is a genetic advantage to mixed breeding to reduce the risk of disease.

Neutered cats tend to spend less time pursuing outdoor adventures, reducing the risk of hazard exposure.

Cats can live longer than the average cat lifespan if they are generally healthy and well cared for.

Purebred cats and males aren’t doomed to a short life if given good care.

5. Why do cats get more diseases outdoors?

Cats exposed to outdoor environments can get into contact with a number of diseases.

Diseases include feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), bartonellosis, and rabies. 

These viruses and parasites suppress the cat’s immune system, increasing infection risk.

Transmission of these diseases occurs through bites or close contact with infected cats:

Casual contact, such as mutual cat grooming increases the risk of disease exposure.

Older cats are most at risk of parasites due to having weaker immune systems.

20 out of 55 cats (36%) in suburban areas ingested liquids and solids not provided by an owner during unsupervised outdoor access, research finds.

A study from Canada showed that 28% of owners allow cats to free roam without supervision.

6. Can a healthy diet increase my cats lifespan?

Avoiding obesity and providing a high protein and moisture diet help a cat live longer.

More than half of US pets are overweight or obese.

Obesity predisposes cats to a higher mortality rate from many conditions. It is well known that the risk of diabetes increases with obesity.

Other problems include:

  • High blood fat levels
  • Mobility and arthritic disorders
  • Reproductive disorders

Cats are carnivores and thrive off a higher protein and moisture diet of animal foods. Hunting cats consume a high protein, low carbohydrate diet.

Shifting your cat to a diet based on wet canned cat foods is one way to improve health and provide moisture for kidney health. Check out our 9 tips for top health to learn more.

Here are some other factors involved in weight gain:

  • Lower cost pet food and giving your cat a lower quality diet
  • Free feeding (i.e. giving your cat acces to food at all times – especially low quality foods)
  • Too many cat treats if given too often

Choosing species-appropriate nutrition for cats and having a feeding schedule are two strategies to help reduce obesity risk.

Check out my article on the best cat foods for your cat for more.

Conclusion: How to Increase Your Cat’s Lifespan

That wraps up this post on cat lifespan.

In this article, I showed how a variety of things that influence cat lifespan.

The most important keys for cat health are supervising your cat and not allowing them to roam far from home.

Cats kept indoors are not exposed to the dangers of the outdoor environment and have a better chance of living out a healthy life.

Staying indoors reduces the chance of injury and/or road-related death, parasites, and other hazards.

Keeping your cat healthy with a high protein diet and frequent vet check-ups also help beneficial for longevity.

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