Do some cat breeds live longer than others?

Yes, it is probably fair to say that some cats of some cat breeds live slightly longer than other cats. However, there are no scientific studies which supports the notion that the cats of some breeds live longer than the cats of other breeds. This is about anecdotal evidence. It’s about what some people believe.

If the cats of one cat breed live shorter lives than those of another cat breed it is going to be because they have a weakened immune system because of inbreeding. It’s called inbreeding depression (see signs of cat inbreeding). When you consistently selectively breed over a long period of time – which by necessity means inbreeding – you can cause the cats of that breed to have health problems that they would not otherwise have had. And this in turn might shorten the lifespan of that group of cats.

Selective breeding - inbreeding per cat breed
CLICK THE IMAGE TO SEE IT LARGER. The cat breeds on the left are the most inbred. The most inbred is the Singapura. The Siberian is the least inbred and on a level of random bred cats. On the far right are 3 subspecies of wildcat. I would expect the Siberian cats to have, in general, longer lives. Chart: in the public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

What is disappointing to me is that some well-established websites such as The Spruce Pets confidently state that there are 10 cat breeds with the longest lifespan. I don’t know where they are getting their information from but their article is misleading. We should not be misleading the public because it can have an effect on adoptions.

The fact of the matter is that all cat breeds are inbred and therefore, in general, the lifespan of purebred cats is normally slightly shorter than that of random-bred cats. Random bred cats by definition are not normally inbred unless confined by accident to a small area.

Inbreeding depression can produce a litany of health problems such as lower birthweight, lethargic kittens, developmental problems, more stillborn kittens, problems with reproductive performance, a greater proneness to illness such as the regular appearance of cancer in younger animals and a loss of immunological diversity according to the authors of Robinson’s Genetics for Cat Breeders and Veterinarians.

Checking a Siamese cat's heart with a stethoscope
Checking a Siamese cat’s heart with a stethoscope. Photo: Pixabay.

RELATED: Click for articles which include a reference to INBREEDING DEPRESSION.

In short, it causes unhealthy cats. In my honest view, based upon quite a lot of research, the Siamese cat is the world’s unhealthiest and ironically it is the first cat that The Spruce Pets mentions in their article on the breeds with the longest life spans! They really do not know what they’re talking about.

If a scientific study was carried out, I would expect the longest-standing cat breeds such as the Siamese and Persian (see link below) to be predisposed towards shorter life spans than cats of the other breeds. The chart above supports this but they are not alone. But of course, there are many factors which dictate the lifespan of an individual cat. Studies tell us that about 35% of Persian cats suffer from polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Quite a shocking percentage don’t you think?

RELATED: Persian Cat Inbreeding is on Prime Time News

Polycystic kidney disease; cat's life expectancy
Photo bottom right: copyright Helmi Flick. Others: public domain. Click the image for more.

The breed of cat is one factor possibly but this factor may produce a variation in longevity of about two years. Factors which have a stronger influence on lifespan are going to be environmental such as the quality of caregiving including the quality of the food provided and whether the caregiver seeks prompt and good veterinary care when required. Another factor of course is whether a cat is allowed to go outside where they might be killed by a car or a predator.

There is a strong argument which states that full-time indoor cats live longer than indoor/outdoor cats in general. Although there are hazards with a full-time indoor life because these cats tend to become obese more often than indoor/outdoor cats. Obesity carries health risks such as diabetes and diabetes can kill cats.

I don’t want a rabbit on and waffle as other websites tend to do. I would rather stick to the point and conclude with the fact that you should not be misled into believing that you can categorise cat breeds into the differences in lifespan that these purebred cats enjoy. There is no science that I know of which supports this.

P.S. Some wild cat species also suffer from inbreeding depression. It can lead to extinction in the wild. It is due to small populations in fragmented habitats due to human behavior.

Below are some articles on lifespan.

Rapamycin is being tested on extending the lifespan and health span of dogs, eventually humans and we must include cats.

Anti-ageing drug rapamycin expected to extend the lives of dogs, humans (and cats!)

Although the newspapers say that the anti-ageing drug rapamycin is being tested to extend the lives of dogs and possibly ...
Cat and dog age comparison to human age

Comparing cat and dog ages with human age in a table (and more)

It is perhaps quite interesting to compare how both cats and dogs age in comparison to humans. You'll see a ...

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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