In a TikTok video below, Ben the Vet presents his version of cat breed lifespans. He has based his presentation, in the short video, on a study about the lifespan of the various cat breeds. I was able to find the results of the study on the website of the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in the UK. The aim of the study is to compare the lifespan of cross breed and purebred cats to allow people to identify how long cats live and what they die of. Useful information when thinking about buying a purebred cat or adopting a moggie from a shelter.
They collected data from over 4,000 deceased cats randomly selected from all deaths in 118,060 cats attending 90 veterinary practices in England, UK.
Ben presents the main results of that study in his video which has 2,180 comments (at the date of this post). When you skim down those comments you can see right away that visitors strongly disagree with the findings. In almost every case they argue that their cat lived longer than the average lifespan of the breed selected. And I must say some of these lifespans are surprising.
Bengal and Abyssinian – short lifespans
Perhaps the most surprising of all is the lifespan of the Bengal cat at 7.3 years, which seems incredibly short; similar to that of large dog breeds. It makes you wonder whether the study was able to include enough individual Bengal cats to assess their average age accurately. The Abyssinian has a lifespan of 10 years. Once again that is very short compared to random bred cats.
The Maine Coon’s lifespan is 11 years, British Shorthair 11.8 years, crossbreed (moggie) 14 years, Persian 14.1 years, Siamese 14.2, Burmese 14.3 and Birman 16.1. Clearly, this is not all the cat breeds. Even the very selective Cat Fanciers’ Association recognises about 44 cat breeds. The International Cat Association recognises many more, approximately 77 breeds as far as I can remember.
HCM shortening lifespan?
All-in-all there have been about 104 cat breeds in my estimation. I’m going to have to speculate as to why visitors to Ben’s video disagree with the study results. A possibility is this: the Bengal cat suffers like other breeds with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a heart disease which shortens the lifespan of an individual cat. I’ll speculate and say that this is the reason why Bengal cats have an average lifespan which is so short.
The Maine Coon cat also suffers from HCM which no doubt shortens their lifespan as well ON AVERAGE. You’re going to get some individual Maine Coon and Bengal cats living much longer. And that’s why we have a disagreement between the study and individual cat owners. Many other breeds suffer from a predisposition to HCM.
RELATED: Bengal cat and taurine.
Another interesting aspect of the study results is that the cross breed or random bred cats do not have the longest lifespans compared to some breeds but SEE BELOW. Predictably they would have the longest lifespans because they have better genetic diversity. All purebred cats have limited genetic diversity because they are all inbred.
It is possible that the random bred cat’s lifespan is shortened because they more often die unnatural deaths i.e. through injury and trauma because they are more often than purebred cats allowed outside unsupervised.
The difficulty with the study results is that you expect these lifespans to be based on the cat dying of natural causes i.e. old age but I don’t think this is the case.
Another interesting aspect of the study is that the Siamese cat has an average lifespan of 14.2 years despite the fact, on my estimation, that this is the cat breed with the most inherited diseases [link]. In the Persian also has a very high number of inherited diseases but that cat breed, too, has a lifespan which is longer than a random bred (moggy).
I think we can conclude by saying that there will be great variation between individual cats of individual cat breeds in terms of lifespan. And a big influence on lifespan is their caregiving and whether they are well looked after indoors, full-time, or allowed outside and neglected as might be the case more commonly with random bred cats.
The actual study
The Royal Veterinary College, I’ve discovered while preparing this page, referred to a study entitled Longevity and mortality of cats attending primary care veterinary practices in England dated 2015.
As a result, I can add some detail. They surveyed 90 veterinary practices. 3660 (91.7%) were cross breed or random bred cats. 2,009 (50.7%) were female and 2,599 (64.8%) were neutered.
The most frequently attributed causes of mortality in cats of all ages were:
- Trauma (12.2%) – I believe this to be a reference to random bred cats allowed outside being killed on the roads and in other ways suffering injuries.
- Renal disorder (12.1%) – this is a reference to chronic kidney disease which is highly prevalent among elderly cats both moggies and purebred cats.
- Non-specific illness (11.2%)
- Neoplasia (10.8%) – this is a reference to an abnormal growth of tissues that may or may not be cancerous
- Mass lesion disorders (10.2%).
Moggies live longer than purebreds
Overall, the average longevity was 14.0 years. Cross breed cats had a higher median longevity them purebred cats at 14 years compared to 12.5 years for purebred cats. But that said, individual purebred cats varied substantially in their longevity.
The longest-lived cats dying after five years of age were moggies having a lower body weight, being neutered and not being insured. Comment: ‘lower body weight’ is an important factor. It points to many cats having a shortened lifespan because they were obese.
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