How long do you think your cat will live?

Old Himalayan cat

Old Himalayan cat (flame point). Photo copyright Helmi Flick

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.

Cola oldest catI 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.


  1. The Cat, Its Behavior, Nutrition & Health page 337
  3. Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook
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How long do you think your cat will live? — 15 Comments

  1. I reckon a cat living more than 16 years is a very good age but not only good caretaking can have a cat live a long life, with the best will in the world, just like people some die young and that is devastating.
    It’s far harder to lose a young cat than a very old one, there is a feeling of relief when an old ill cat chooses his/her own time, as well as the natural grief.
    It makes me sad that cats lives are so short in comparison to ours and it makes me sad that some people don’t give their cats the best possible life that they can give them.

    • I wonder how many cats’ lives are cut short through ill health brought on by poor cat caretaking such as poor nutrition or stress. We have way of knowing. I am sure people who don’t care for their cat to a good standard are unaware of the potential consequences.

  2. My siamese is 7 now.My other 2 siamese lived to be 16 years each.Both died of cancer.But they were and are mixed breed .I have 8 other cats that are from 7 to 15 years old. The 15 year old is a calico.I think they live so long because of the good care and are allowed to go in the yard and get fresh air and sunshine.MY CATS ARE ALL SPAYED AND NEUTERED.But I really do miss having a kitten.

  3. My comment is not necessarily close;y related to this article but it has something in common. It’s about the chequered histories of my black cats.
    Two died apparently of snake bites, Moreno and Oz. A third Erkin made himself a permanent resident after appearing out of the bushes as skinny as rake, but 1.5 years later just vanished. A fourth a beautiful black Angora male I called Midnight vanished before I could adopt him. All of these were outdoors free-born cats from the surrounding area. The fifth is my own cat born in my house to a white SH’d Anatolian alsp a rescued cat. He spent much of his tome outside and hardly ever moved from the front door or kitchen window. Well a couple of months ago he vanished which I thought very strange because he seemed glued to the front of house. I expected to find him dead in the garden but that wasn’t the case. The day before yesterday I spotted him in a garden about 1/2 km away. He didn’t take his eyes off me the whole rime I was there calling him but wouldn’t come to me. Perhaps he went off a-courting and found a place more to his liking with fewer or no cats. I am glad he is OK but puzzled by it all.

  4. I think a human in his early 80’s is still relatively young. I consider a full life to be at least into early to mid nineties. I just know so many people older than ninety– and not just from working in physical therapy. There is a 99 year old woman at my church who climbs stairs, walks without an assistive device (safely) and is mentally sharp.

    I think a cat at even age 14 is not all that old, because my sister’s cat Kobe is 14 and he is quite mobile, able to leap from the floor to the top of his cat tree. He is thinner than he used to be, but he gets around well. I think declawed cats do not age so well because of the stress and pain they deal with and the inevitable osteoarthritis. I want Monty to be with me into his twenties, but I guess it’s not up to me. I expect to live into my mid-nineties, but if I realistically want that to happen (and with good quality of life) I need to lose weight and exercise more.

    • I consider a full life to be at least into early to mid nineties have a healthy outlook on life. I think the current lifespan for people is around 81 in the UK and 79 in the USA. My father’s side have long lifespan genes. My father lived to 92 but I don’t want to live that long myself. He said people live too long. He wanted to die before his body was ready to die.

      • I would like to live to be 108 to see the USA’s tricentennial in 2076. I would like to celebrate it in Reedsburg, just as I celebrated the bicentennial. In 1976 the citizens of Reedsburg put a time capsule together, to be opened in 100 years. I asked my mom what was in it and she said she didn’t know. I decided then that I would just have to live another hundred years to find out. I should start eating better and exercise more and it could possibly happen. There are some good genes on my father’s side of the family.

        I think it’s not just about age or infirmity if a person gives up on life. I’ve known some very old and enfeebled people who still enjoy life and some younger people with less severe health problems who are very bitter and say they are ready to die. I have felt sometimes that it is better to depart and be with Christ, because this world is so very evil. I think it is the realization of what it means to live in a sinful, fallen world that makes people give up. Even if they don’t have a theological worldview necessarily, it is just the realization of just how bad and how dark the human heart really is.

        Cats don’t have those issues, so I think so long as you can keep a cat comfortable he can live a very long, full and happy life right to the end. I do think declawed cats carry a burden that is just too much, and I don’t think you’ll ever see a declawed cat living into his twenties. No declawed cat is going to set records for cat longevity. My neighbor’s cat was declawed when they got her and not wanting to deprive her of the experience of going outside they let her roam. She lived to be 18. Lucky enough to avoid hazards that could have killed a declawed cat (or any roaming cat) she had the stimulation and joy of being outside and behaving as a cat should behave. This does not make the fact that she was declawed ok nor is it a good idea to let a declawed cat outside. But she had a way to deal with the stress it caused her– she could be outside– and she lived a long full life.

  5. The Unknown Cat
    My mother had a feeling of animal protection that only about ten years later I could understand better. She adopted many feral cats because she loved cats too much. There was among the cats one that looked very sick, and could not move or make a sound, and was covered with mange through all of his body. The cat also did not responded to anyone, and he did not do anything but being there. One could think that the cat was going to die in any moment. The cat was leaning there in the garage sitting with his head up and patiently waiting and taking a look at all around him.
    When we saw the cat, we told mother that the cat should be put to sleep. My mother rejected the idea of putting the cat to sleep, and she was very eager in defending his life. And there you could see the no-name cat sitting in a cardboard drum where a mantel was put in the top to serve as the cat’s bed. I think the cat was sitting there very patiently waiting for his death. Some months passed and the cat finally died. My mother phoned me to dispose his body, because there was no place left in her patio to bury another cat.
    When I recall the issue of the unnamed sick cat, I now feel that my mother was right in her feelings toward the cat. I now understand her wonderful loving heart, and her greater love for cats. At the moment I am writing this, I am suffering from severe pain because of some tumors in my spine. I have to take strong analgesics to continue living. If I were the unknown and suffering cat, I would also do not like that someone would put me to “sleep”. Thanks Mum, I love you so much wherever you be now. She was a great pharmacist. RIP (1922-2011) Dilia Casta, my loving mother.
    Pedro A Vázquez-Casta
    Bayamón, Puerto Rico

    • Thank you Pedro for your very tender and poignant comment. It got me thinking. You are clearly an advocate of life instead of euthanasia (for both cats and humans). Personally, I favour euthanasia for humans and cats who are terminally ill. I am sorry to hear of your illness and the pain you suffer. I really hope you can get through it OK.

      • Oh no I am not advocate of life against euthanasia. I just know that there is a difference in suffering in agony with severe pain, and suffering in a sense that you can find some relief. If I were in a condition of extreme suffering and no hope, I would require to be left to die. The cat did not show any kind of pain, I have to make this clear.

        • What a sweet memory of your mother. She must have been an exceptional woman. I love how you have a new understanding of the cat, who was dying, but spent his last days in the loving care of your mother. Having a new perspective, and learning from memories, is really living. Best wishes for comfort and many more moments of joy to you.

  6. i would really love my surviving animals to live at least 14 or more years. so far hasnt been to good with cassy at 10yrs and tammy at 12 years. Heres hoping things go ok.

    • I have been lucky. My Binnie, died at aged about 19. Charlie looks pretty fit and he is about 12+ years. I don’t know his exact age because he is a rescue cat. I expect him to live a similar age to Binnie.

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