If your cat were to die of old age how long do you think he’d live? I expect the average random breed cat in the UK to live to at least fifteen years of age. I don’t think 18 years of age for a moggie should be that unusual.
Yet, some experts consider cats to be old when they are 7 years of age. That means that for the average moggie in the UK, old age lasts for more than half his life. That can’t be correct, surely? I would argue that cats enter old age no sooner than 12 years of age but that may be too ambitious or optimistic.
On a comparison of cat to human age, 15 years for a cat is about 71 years for a human. Well, I consider a man living to his early 80s to be about right for a full life, which equates to 18 years of age for a cat. Therefore I think my assessment is correct.
In America, do indoor cats live longer than indoor/outdoor cats? Of course, but only when the ages are averaged and all causes of death are factored in. If you just collated the age of cats who died of natural causes (old age) I would expect an indoor/outdoor cat to live longer because of the more natural lifestyle, which probably lowers stress.
Experts say indoor American cats live an average of 15 years and it is not uncommon to see 18-20 year old cats. Apparently, it is estimated that only one ninth (about 10%) of cats in the USA are over 11 years of age1.
I would expect that the lifespan of domestic cats varies from country to country. The variation might be small or large. The difference between America and England is probably slight but it might be relatively large between England and China, for example.
Being purebred of random bred affects the aging process. Some say that Siamese cats are noted for being long-lived. I disagree. Perhaps that might apply to traditional Siamese but not Modern Siamese cats. The Persian tends not to live as long as Siamese cats3. I would estimate that the average Siamese cat lives to about 12 years of age. My mother’s Burmese all died around 10 years of age.
I will stick my neck out and state that, on average, purebred cats have lifespans that are about 20% shorter than random bred (mixed breed) cats. That does not come out of a book.
This is due to health issues caused by the necessity to inbred to maintain an acceptable appearance for the breed. Inbreeding can have health consequences such as a depressed immune system.
The cat most likely to live the longest is a black moggie who is well fed, vaccinated to a minimum but vaccinated nonetheless, who is well loved and who has a safe indoor/outdoor life with prompt veterinary treatment as and when required.
One such cat is possible the oldest cat in the world and almost certainly in Britain. Her name is Cola and she is 28 years of age. Her caretaker puts her longevity down to “‘a lot of love and attention and just being looked after”2. Her age puts her at about 140 in human terms but the conversion charts are not that accurate to be honest.
Chronic illnesses can affect geriatric cats, typically kidney failure. Treating chronic illnesses in old age should be factored into the expenses of cat caretaking.
- The Cat, Its Behavior, Nutrition & Health page 337
- Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook