HomeCat Anatomycat ageWhat percentage of cats live to 20?

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What percentage of cats live to 20? — 67 Comments

  1. Another anecdote on longevity: my two roommates and I got 3 kittens from the same litter at 8 weeks of age, born in June 2001. Two domestic shorthairs and one medium hair (we figure she had a different father) in the United States. The medium haired cat passed away in April 2015 due to oral cancer (so she almost made it to 14 years old). Her sister passed away this past April of a different form of cancer (so she almost made it to 18). And their brother passed away last week of cancer in his bladder (so he made it to about 18 years, 3 months).

    All three cats stayed indoors and were fed pretty high quality food for most of their lives and had routine vet appointments. They all had earlier health issues resolved through medical treatment (such as bacterial infections, impacted anal glands, and resorptive lesions in a few teeth). The older two had kidney disease for the past few years, but compensated by drinking plenty of water. All three of them maintained pretty good quality of life until a week or so before cancer finally broke something that modern veterinary care can’t fix and we had to put them to sleep to avoid a painful demise.

    So basically, if you feed an indoor cat well and give them proper medical treatment, living into their teens is likely. But how far into the teens is basically a game of roulette involving cancer and other age-triggered diseases which we currently have little control over.

  2. I just want to add that it isn’t exceedingly rare for (indoor) cats to make it to 20, just uncommon. I work in a specialty pet foods store and have had countless customers tell me about their cats in their late teens to early twenties. It may be that the people I see are also uncommon, as I would guess a large portion of people feed low end food brands and don’t/can’t keep up with vet visits. A good diet is key to health and longevity! Stay away from by-product, corn and soy. First ingredient should be a meat or meat meal. And look for probiotics as they not only boost digestion but also immune health. 🙂

    • Thanks Tyler. I’ll amend the article slightly to accommodate your thoughts. You may be correct in certain parts of the USA but what about other countries? I am sure that in Central and South America 18 years is damn good and the same for all Asian countries. In the UK 20 is exceptional I believe.

  3. My cat is Archie and she will turn 20 on June 10 of this year. I got her when she was 6. My X roommate got her as a kitten. She was a birthday present to her long time cat Baggy. When the time came that we split, my X roommate was going to give her away to the pound. I couldn’t have that so I took Archie. I have never had a cat this old and I have spent very little on her. She is never sick, unless she chews plastic. Archie has three addictions. First one is Peppermint, second one is plastic and the third one is thinking that the top of my head at night is her pillow. Archie has lost a great deal of weight over the past year. She is basically half her size now. She was at the vets and there doesn’t appear anything wrong with her. She still grooms herself 24 hours a day. She has some difficulty jumping but manages to fine her way to my pillow at night. I do believe that some dementia has begun. I have had her so long that I can’t even think of not having her around. She was a friend to three other pets that I have had over the years, all of which have past. I am hoping that Archie surpasses the findings of cats that live long lives.

    • Your comment made me smile – the bit about her third addiction. It’s love you know. 20 is a great age. My cat lost weight at 18 and died at that age. Kidney failure. Archie sounds great. And when she has passed a hole will form in your life. Thanks for commenting Rod.

      • Michael I am sorry for the lost of your cat. 18 is still a good age and I am sure that there are many good memories. Archie to date is my oldest pet. You are correct that when she passes I don’t believe, and I have decided that she will not be replaced. Kidney failure sounds distressful, I hope that your cat didn’t suffer, there is nothing worse than seeing a friend in pain. I will not let Archie pass in a state of pain. I was concerned about the weight loss, the vet did the urine poop and blood test and nothing was found. She just an old girl who needs just that extra care.

        • I waited too long before decided that euthanasia was the best thing to do. I think she did suffer for a few months. It is very hard to decide when to euthanize a cat you have loved so dearly. Archie is a beautiful mackerel/spotted gray/brown tabby. She looks a bit like my current cat. You may have to decide to euthanize at some time in the future. Good luck with that decision.

  4. Our cat Danny is 19 and 2 months. Skinny, doesn’t groom much, but no arthritis, can still jump up on a counter or across a 4 foot gap. Eats well but doesn’t gain weight. Taking prednisone for bowel inflammation and Felimazole for thyroid. Mostly sleeps now, but vet thinks she will definitely make 20.

    • Well, he’ll be a special cat when he makes 20. He should get a letter from the Queen! In the UK when citizens get to 100 the Queens sends them a letter signed by the Queen.

  5. My Mom passed away in 2003 I adopted her 6 year old cat. On Feb. 14, 2018 she will be 21 years old and very healthy. Keeps herself groomed, needs no meds and loves her “Temptation cat treats”. I’ll never let her suffer in any way just to live longer but appears she is going to be with us for a while longer. My Mom would be pleased!

  6. My cat died at 22 yrs – She is missed so much. Our vets said they had not had such an old cat, with only an exception reaching 18 in their practices.

  7. My little Thursday is 17 now. We’re taking her to the vets today as she’s not jumping or climbing the stairs anymore. I suspect its arthritis. Has anyone else experienced this? I’m worried about her, she’s such a sweet thing can’t imagine being without her.

  8. My beautiful Bubbles is now 10 years old. She is still going strong and is healthy. When the time comes, I am not sure where to find another kitten like her. I had her mother and watched Bubbles being born and her whole life. Mama had Bubbles when mama was 11 years old. Mama lived another 3 years. I hope I can find another long haired tricolor kitten.

    • Hi Paul. Bubbles is indeed beautiful. I am sure you’ll be able to find another tricolor (calico in the US) kitten and the best of luck.

  9. iVE had my cat since i was two the vet said he was two then so we always celebrated the same bday. I turned 21 last febuary and i took him to the bar with me

  10. My Susie is 19 20 next year and I am stressed trying to make sure she has enough to eat cos she has always been fussy. I am probably giving her too much but am terrified of her going as my husband doesn’t want any more but I desperately do. We lost her sister on New Year’s Eve 2015 and I so miss Sweep. Don’t know what I will do when Susie goes she means the world to me although she has never been affectionate as her sister was. I really hope she makes it through to 20 I am trying to give her what she wants wet or dry senior or not.

    • Wow, Maggie. Twenty is a fantastic age and a rare age. You will certainly miss her a lot. It’ll hurt. I wish you and Susie the best of luck and I hope she makes 20 too. It takes a lot of care and attention sometimes to look after an old cat. It is a test of one’s love. You love her a lot.

  11. A lot of incredible stories here of cats living long lives. My cat Maddie will turn 20 on June 15th. She developed some issues in the last six months, including a recent diagnosis of hyperthyroidism, treatable now with a gel that can absorb through the skin by placing inside her ear. She does NOT like pills! But she can still tear down a hallway like she was three! We just lost her son Buddy at age 18 in October, so I know I’m very lucky to have had two cats for that much time!

    • Thanks Chuck. Eighteen and twenty are two very good ages for cats. I’d bet you are an excellent cat caretaker/guardian too. Well done.

  12. Hello,
    I thought I should let you know about our cat Penelope who is 16 and a half and has kidney disease and cancer. She was diagnosed with both a year and a half ago. The cancer is adenocarcinoma of the nasal passage and her face is swollen on one side causing her right eye to be hard to find. And she is drinking more water. That’s the bad news. The good news is she still eats like a horse, jumps up on the top of the kitchen cabinets, licks my face and bugs me for more food! She is every bit the cat she was before these illnesses except she weighs less and isn’t doing the greatest job on her coat.
    I have been through many alternative remedies, no chemo or radiation. I have ended up with the Budwig formula of flax oil and cottage cheese and a product called Shield for Pets which is fermented wheat germ. Well, better get busy and feed Penelope! Adrienne

    • Thanks for sharing Adrienne. It must be tough for you at times. Sorry to hear that your cat is very ill. Nice to know she appears not to be feeling ill, though.

      • And thank you for your reply. It’s very nice after spending time leaving a message to be able to get a notification by email so I know there was a reply. As for tough times, yes, we’ve certainly had our share since we have rescued many pets, placed most of them, but kept several and had to say good-bye when the end of their lives came. It’s sooo hard! But, in the case of Penelope she is such a little trouper that, so far, it’s almost been fun. I chose not to go with chemo or radiation because I asked how it goes for cats on chemo or radiation with a similar cancer and the three vets I asked all admitted it is not good, meaning the cats don’t feel so good, throw up, hide, etc. The vet at the vet school, Washington State Veterinary Teaching Hospital, told me she has never had a cat live with this cancer.
        Since I settled on the two alternatives I mentioned, Penelope has been really feeling good. So, no, it isn’t tough now, as long as she continues to do well. Here tumor is pretty much the same size, but she does not appear to be bothered by it. I have pain medication for her, but, really, she shows no signs of pain. She did off and on, but not in the last several months. Thanks for the really nice web site,

        Adrienne

        • Nice job Adrienne. You are making her life as good as possible. You can’t do more. Thanks for visiting and commenting and good luck.

  13. My cat, Colette, is now 19 and very healthy. She grooms herself and still jumps up n the bed to sleep with me. The Vet said she is the healthiest 19 year old cat she has ever seen. Colette is the only pet I have ever had, and I had no idea that cats could live this long. Colette is a Tabby and gave my mom a lot of love in her old age. My mom passed in her sleep at age 93. I hope Colette passes in her sleep too.

      • Yes, I think she may be. I would like to do some traveling and do not know what to do about Colette, as she is so attached to me and too old for traveling……She is a very sweet and pretty cat and kind of like a puppy. She follows me everywhere. I will try to post a picture of her…..I am 72 and she is 19 and every year on Facebook I put both our pictures on. I used to have a little school and she was our school cat. The children loved her. Perhaps love is what it takes to live to a ripe old age…

  14. If our Nippie makes it to October she’ll be 21! She has trouble walking now but makes it to the water dish ok. Giving her fish oil to try to lengthen the life of her joints.

  15. Our Bean is 20. She is very scrawny and I have to comb her, as she has stopped doing her own grooming. She eats like crazy, though – always first at the bowl, and has lately taken to staring down the dog and eating his food (He retreats and lets her do it, even though he is 45 pounds and she barely 3 pounds.) We have had many cats over the years, and 18 is as old as any of them lived.

  16. Vets are now saying it is MUCH more common for cats to live to be in their 20s. I’d say I’d revise your numbers a lot. Every vet I’ve talked to has said they’ve had 20 year old cats in their practice. That being said, I recently had to put down my 13 year old cat Misty who developed very rare stomach cancer that metastasized throughout his entire body including the whole GI tract. He was vomiting and defecating large amounts of blood and was losing so much weight. It was the most painful thing I’ve had to do but I know that he was in so much pain toward the end. I have a 15 year little girl that I intend on keeping as healthy as long as possible and I’ve switched from dry cat food to only organic wet food diet without any animal by-products. Aside from dental problems she is still very healthy and I hope to keep it that way.

  17. My cat Steffi is now 20 and in my family 2 out of the 6 cats made it to 20 and 4 out of the 6 made it to 19. In this sample of cats, that’s about 33%, much higher than 0.5%.

    • Wow. I am very impressed. I may have to revise my figure but there again I think you have some very healthy and long lived cats. I think your cats are exceptional. Thanks for telling me.

    • Well, we are mourning our cat of 17 years and 4 months. She started eating practically nothing, and dies of liver failure. Well, we put her down. We feel terrible we did not realize she was ill until she stopped eating. Only two weeks earlier, maybe three, she was playing with a new toy. Talking about all the 20 year old cats makes us feel even worse.

      • I am sorry to read your story Janet. I had a similar experience with my female cat. I knew the time had come when she looked at me after I had put some food down. Thanks for sharing your story.

  18. Oh yes that is the ideal way to go for anyone animal or human, we know we all have to go and so do our beloved cats, if only that was the way it always happened it would be perfect. Having to decide on euthanasia is so awful that there are not words to describe the horror of it.

  19. Whatever their age it’s terrible when a cat dies, it wrenches our hearts out doesn’t it? If they die when they’re young you miss out on sharing their lives with them and seeing what sort of grown up cat they would have been and on years of love with them, if they die when they’ve had a long life you miss them like crazy because you’ve been together for so long.

    • Whatever their age it’s terrible when a cat dies, it wrenches our hearts out doesn’t it?

      It does but I hope Charlie dies the way Dee’s cat Spotty died – in her sleep. That’s tough for the caretaker but quite beautiful in a way and far better than euthanasia which certainly tore me apart.

  20. Yes that cat looks weary. 17 has been our oldest cat, which is about mid 80s in our years. I think as well as being well cared for it’s the same as us humans, party hereditary how long we live.
    One thing we can do for cats is to set them free if they are suffering with an incurable illness, we can’t do that for human loved ones.
    It’s sad that cats years are so short in comparison with ours and even sadder when one dies too young.

    • 17 is a very nice age Ruth – I hope mine make it as far as 16 at least.

      Of course Red didn’t make it past 1 year and one month.

        • Thanks Ruth. Yes – fate is a kind of risk, or statistic. I hope I don’t lose another cat so young.

          Poor Kylee losing her Cassy so suddenly at 10 years of age.

          It’s very sad losing a cat – even one you hardly know, or just know of. It always makes me sad because I know that all cats are innocent creatures and so when one dies it is a loss.

    • I had one live to just over one years old. And the rest of my cats here are young. I just hope they make it as far as 16. Then I will be happy they lived a good life.

  21. I had a neighbor who’s cat lived to 24. Whistle even outlived her daughter Patches who died at 22. Both were spayed when Patches was around 5 months old.

      • The mom was a registered nurse so she likely recognized potentionally serious medical conditions and got her cats to a vet asap. I was in shock when I moved back to the area and learned those cats were still alive.

  22. My Spotty lived to be 21.
    She was scraggly but affectionate and loving.
    She had stopped grooming herself for about 2 years, so I had to take over the job.
    She passed quietly in her sleep.
    The will to live is very strong.

    • Oh, sweet Spotty. I would love to see a picture. I’ve never known how old any cat I’ve ever had in my life has been. I wish we could scan a swatch of hair to know.

      • my cat is 23 and a half years old and is still doing fine except I have to give him insulin 2 times a day for the last 3 years and he needs thyroid pills twice a day for the last 2 years. He also has arthritis and cant jump up or down. But he seems to be happy and still cuddles and purrs a lot. He is a purebred Maine Coon and his birthdate is January 1st 1991. Hope he lives another 5 years or so.

            • To tell you the truth. Everyday that I go to work and when I come home I expect him to be deceased but he still comes and greets me. Thank you for your website and god bless you. cat people are very honourable people and I really respect what you are doing. Take care of yourself and Cheers! from northern Canada!

    • Aw Spotty lived a very long life. How lucky she passed peacefully away in her sleep. It’s the best I could hope for with my cats. I like the name Spotty – I will assume she was spotty. She sounds like a very sweet cat.

      When Red died I think it was sudden. I don’t believe he suffered in pain without me there. It certainly looked like he must have died instantly.

    • She turned 21 in March of that year and passed in November. On her 21st birthday, I told her that she was legal to drink. So, she had as much milk and tuna as she wanted (at that age I gave her anything she loved) and I had a scotch and water. A very good day.

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