How long do cats live?

Female hugging her cute long hair kitty. Background, copy space, close up. Adorable domestic pet concept.
Female hugging her cute long hair kitty. Background, copy space, close up. Adorable domestic pet concept.
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NexGard SPECTRA and information about cats live

Cat care conversations with Dr Keshuan Chow, Feline Medicine Specialist

Find out how long cats live and how to keep them happy and healthy through every life stage.

What is Cat Life Expectancy? Indoor vs Outdoor

So, what is the average lifespan of a cat? The answer can vary significantly based on several factors. While the average age for cats to live to ranges from 14 to 17 years, their living conditions (e.g., indoor vs outdoor), health care and diet will influence their time with us.

How Long Do Domestic Cats Live For?

As we review what the average life expectancy of a domestic cat is, the results can actually be quite impressive, especially with proper care and a safe living environment. 

The life expectancy of an indoor only house cat, for example, is typically longer than that of their outdoor counterparts, largely due to reduced risks of accidents, fights, and diseases. With advancements in veterinary medicine and a better understanding of cat care, it's not uncommon for house cats to live well into their late teens or early twenties.

How Long Do Outdoor Cats Live For?

Now, let’s consider the life expectancy of indoor vs outdoor cats. Outdoor cats face more environmental hazards, including traffic, predators, and increased parasite and disease exposure. Naturally, these risks may significantly shorten their expected lifespan compared to indoor cats. While the adventurous outdoor lifestyle may seem appealing, it comes with a price, often cutting their life expectancy by several years. Cat owners must weigh these factors carefully when deciding on their cat's living arrangements.

What Factors Contribute to How Long a Cat Will Live?

If we’re going to explore how long cats live, we must go past the average life expectancy estimates and stages of a cat’s life, and look into the various elements collectively determining their longevity. These include:

  • Genetics and Breed: Like humans, a cat's genetics significantly influences lifespan. Certain breeds have predispositions to specific health conditions that can affect their overall longevity. For example, mixed breeds often benefit from genetic diversity.
  • Nutrition: A well-balanced diet tailored to a cat's age, health status, and lifestyle is directly linked to their lifespan. Proper nutrition plays a significant role in preventing obesity, diabetes and joint problems.
  • Healthcare and Preventative Measures: Regular check-ups with your vet, vaccinations, and preventative treatments for parasites are fundamental in extending a cat's life. Early detection and treatment can significantly improve the average life expectancy of a domestic cat.
  • Environment and Lifestyle: Indoor cats generally live longer than outdoor cats due to reduced risks of accidents and disease exposure. 
  • Spaying and Neutering: Neutered cats tend to live longer, partly because neutering reduces the risk of certain diseases and the likelihood of roaming, which can expose cats to various dangers.
  • Mental Health and Enrichment: A cat's mental health is just as important as its physical health. Stress can lead to behavioural and physical health problems. Providing a stimulating environment with toys, perches, and attention can improve their quality of life and potentially their lifespan.

Stages of a Cat's Life

As a responsible pet owner, knowing and appreciating the different stages of a cat's life allows you to provide the appropriate care at each phase. 

Let's explore these stages in more detail, each marked by unique needs and behaviours:

Kitten (Birth to 1 Year)

  • Rapid Growth: Characterised by significant physical and behavioural development.
  • Socialisation and Training: Vital for developing good behaviours; includes litter training and social interaction.
  • Healthcare: Initial vaccinations, parasite control and neutering.
  • Nutrition: Kittens require a diet rich in protein and calories to support their rapid growth.

Young Adult (1-6 Years)

  • Physical Maturity: Cats reach their full size and physical maturity during this stage.
  • High Energy Levels: Young adult cats are often very active and playful.
  • Regular Health Checks: Maintain vaccinations, parasite control, and regular vet check-ups (at least once per year).
  • Balanced Diet: A well-balanced diet designed to maintain ideal body weight and overall health.
  • Oral Care: Establishing a good oral care routine is vital for their health.

Mature Adult (7-10 Years)

  • Slower Pace: Cats may begin to slow down and be less active compared to their younger years.
  • Weight Management: Monitoring diet and exercise will help to prevent obesity.
  • Health Monitoring: Regular health screenings for early detection of age-related issues like kidney disease or arthritis. Ensure your cat is up to date with their vaccinations and parasite control.
  • Dental Care: Oral health becomes increasingly important.

Senior (10+ Years)

  • Regular Veterinary Care: Vet visits at least twice a year are recommended to monitor and manage health issues. Ensure your cat is up-to-date with vaccinations and parasite control.
  • Diet Adjustments: Senior cats may require diets formulated for older pets, often lower in calories but rich in certain nutrients.
  • Mobility Issues: Arthritis and other mobility issues may become more apparent, requiring adjustments in their living space for comfort.
  • Behavioural Changes: Behaviour or cognitive function changes can occur, requiring patience and possibly modifications in their care.

How to Help Your Cat Live Longer

Here are some practical tips to help your feline friend enjoy a longer, happier life:

  • Regular Check-ups: Annual or bi-annual vet visits help with early detection and treatment of any health issues.
  • Balanced Nutrition: Feed your cat a high-quality diet suitable for their age, health status, and lifestyle.
  • Vaccinations: Ensure your cat is up-to-date with vaccinations.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Prevent obesity through portion control and regular exercise.
  • Dental Care: Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can prevent oral diseases, which can affect overall health.
  • Mental Stimulation: Keep your cat mentally stimulated with toys, puzzles, and interactive play.
  • Safe Environment: Create a safe indoor environment or supervised outdoor access to reduce the risk of accidents and exposure to infectious diseases.
  • Spay/Neuter: Potentially reduce the risk of certain cancers and behavioural issues.
  • Parasite Control:Treat your cat for parasites like fleas, ticks, and worms every month.
  • Stress Reduction: Provide a calm environment, as chronic stress can impact a cat's health.
  • Hydration: Ensure your cat has constant access to fresh water to support kidney health and overall well-being.
  • Grooming: Regular grooming keeps their coat and skin healthy and allows you to check for any abnormalities.


  • Do Female Cats Live Longer Than Male Cats?

    Studies suggest that, on average, female cats may live longer than male cats. The reason appears to stem from male cats often engaging in riskier behaviours, especially if they are not neutered. With that said, health and lifestyle choices will play a more significant role in how long domestic cats live than gender alone.

  • Do Cats Live Longer If They're Neutered?

    Neutering or spaying cats can contribute to a longer lifespan, as it will reduce the risks associated with reproductive diseases and behaviours. For example, neutered cats are less likely to roam for a potential mate, reducing their exposure to various external dangers. 

  • Do Indoor Cats Live Longer?

    When comparing life expectancy for indoor vs outdoor cats, it is believed that indoor cats live longer than outdoor cats. The controlled indoor environment protects them from various external threats such as traffic accidents, predators, and diseases from other animals. While indoor cats are safer, it's crucial to provide adequate mental and physical stimulation to ensure their well-being.

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