Cat Lifespan: How Long Do Cats Live?

Written by August Buck
Published: December 29, 2021
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Cats are one of the most popular house pets to own around the world. Independent, cuddly, and vocal, most house cats bring joy and entertainment to the average family. But how long do house cats live, and how can you extend the life of your feline companion?

Let’s go over how long cats live on average, along with their life cycles. This could give you keen insight into how to best take care of your furry friend for the entirety of their lives!

Cat Lifespan: How Long Do Cats Live?
Independent, cuddly, and vocal, most house cats bring joy and entertainment to the average family.

iStock.com/undefined undefined

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How Long Do Cats Live?

Cats live an average of 12-16 years in captivity, depending on the breed and overall care of the cat. Some breeds live longer than others, and gender or neutering may also play a factor in the lifespan of your cat.

For example, research has shown that crossbred cats, lighter weight cats, and neutered cats all live longer than their purebred, overweight, and unneutered counterparts. Purebred cats can live long and healthy lives too, but their lifespans vary from breed to breed.

No matter the breed or gender, cats live long and healthy lives, far beyond the average. There are some cats that even hold records for living to almost the age of 40- that’s beyond any pet owner’s expectations!

To fully understand a cat’s lifespan, let’s go over what the life cycle of a domestic cat looks like.

How Long Do Cats Live?
Cats live an average of 12-16 years in captivity, depending on the breed and overall care of the cat.

iStock.com/mstudeny

The Average Cat Life Cycle

Cats are a unique house pet in many ways, given that they are born live like humans and are vocal from a young age. Let’s learn more about their lifespan now.

Newborns

Newborn kittens can’t do much without their mother. Their ears are flattened against their heads, their eyes are closed, and they need their mother for both warmth and food. Even in a domestic situation, a mother cat needs to protect their kitchens.

In the first week of their lives, newborn kittens spend the majority of their time sleeping and the rest of that time eating. They can’t stand, and need to be fed at least every 2 hours. In the first week, they will double their weight and even start vocalizing for food and attention. 

Kittens

How Long Do Cats Live?
On average, kittens only weigh three to four ounces at birth.

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At 4 weeks old, kittens begin to grow into their looks and personalities. They are able to walk more accurately on their own, and may even begin playing and investigating in classic curious cat fashion. 

Most cats are considered kittens until they are around a year old. During this first year of life, kittens love to play, eat, and learn how to use their fine motor skills, ideally in a litter situation. They rely on their mother during this first year, if their mother is around. 

However, most kittens can be adopted as early as 2 months old. The 2 month mark is an ideal age for adoption, as it is when kittens can be safely spayed or neutered. Spaying or neutering your cat has been proven to extend the lifespan of your cat. 

Adulthood

While it may surprise you to hear, many cats don’t reach adulthood until they are 2 to 3 years old. Some larger breeds of cats, such as Maine Coons or ragdolls, continue to grow well into their fourth year of life. 

Adult cats need much less supervision than kittens do, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t need enrichment and activities. They will still want to play, and can still get up to mischief in your home, which is why it is important to give them many outlets if they are an indoor-only cat. 

Adulthood is also when you should be keeping a close eye on your cats overall health, with regular vet visits and checkups. Many adult cats can develop teeth and gum issues, leading to difficulties eating later in life. 

Senior Cats

How Long Do Cats Live?
While it may surprise you to hear, many cats don’t reach adulthood until they are 2 to 3 years old.

iStock.com/Larisa Stefanuyk

Senior cats are usually considered seniors when they reach the age of seven or eight years old. While they still have a lot of life left, it is important to pay attention to their health and wellness during this time.

Your senior cat is less likely to play, and you may notice that they prefer sleeping to doing many other activities. Their mobility may be changing as they get older, so you should pay special attention to this and care for them as they age.

Tips for Giving Your Cat a Long Lifespan

How Long Do Cats Live?
House cats are fantastic companions and can live long and healthy lives.

iStock.com/Ana Iacob

There are many things you can do to help give your pet cat a long life. Some of these things should be done early on in their life, to ensure that they adapt well to these lifestyle changes.

Common ways of extending your cat’s lifespan include:

  • Keep your pet cat indoors. According to UC Davis Veterinary Medicine, outdoor cats live an average of 3-6 years. This number is much lower than the average indoor cat lifespan. Keeping your cat inside can help them avoid cars, other cats, and many diseases that could shorten their life.
  • Spay or neuter your cat. Getting your cat altered can lengthen its life and help it avoid many cancers and diseases that would normally affect them otherwise. Neutering your male cat can have a significant benefit to his overall life.
  • Give your cat ample entertainment. Toys, attention, and the ability to run around can help your cat live a longer and healthier life. Keeping them at a healthy weight is key, and monitoring their food and treat intake may be necessary.
  • Take your cat in for check ups regularly. Your vet will be able to tell you how your cat is doing much better than your cat can! By taking your cat to the vet regularly, you will be able to monitor your cat as they age and find any underlying health issues well before it is too late.

House cats are fantastic companions and can live long and healthy lives. You may be surprised to see your cat live 20 or more years with you!

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These heavy cats have personalities that are often compared to that of a puppy.
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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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