Updated November 28, 2020
According to a recent survey of English cats, the average lifespan was 14 years old. Purebred cats were recorded as living to a lower average of 12.5 years.
These of course are only averages and include all causes of death from birth to old age. We regularly see cats with good care who do much better.
To help your cat live longer, it’s useful to look at the causes of death recorded.
|Cause Of death||Percent|
|Trauma (mostly road)||12.2%|
Trauma accounted for almost half of the deaths in cats under five years old. Masses would in many cases also have been cancers such as lymphoma.
It’s informative to also look at the risk factors for having a decreased lifespan.
- Not being neutered or desexed
- Having a higher body weight
- Being purebred
So let’s put all this together.
How To Help Cats Live Longer
Here is a useful evidence-based guide to giving your cat as many healthy years as possible:
- Keep weight under control
- Get cats desexed at 6 months of age
- Keep cats indoors, especially at night
- Seek regular veterinary health checks
- Get blood tests at least annually from middle age
Lifespans Of Selected Cat Breeds
There are also differences between some breeds. That means that if you haven’t chosen a breed yet, you have one further way to increase lifespan. Note however that some figures are based on only a few cats so are less reliable.
One large quibble with this data: I object to the use of the term ‘crossbreed’ to describe the domestic breed of cat we also call the moggie. It’s a fantastic breed too, just an overlooked and common one.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that the cause of death was euthanasia for 85.7% of cases. This is quite appropriate and in keeping with a caring society like the UK. All vets would agree that there are very few diseases where a ‘natural’ death is more humane than carefully planned euthanasia.
O’Neill, D. G., Church, D. B., McGreevy, P. D., Thomson, P. C., & Brodbelt, D. C. (2015). Longevity and mortality of cats attending primary care veterinary practices in England. Journal of feline medicine and surgery, 17(2), 125-133.
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By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These articles are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story!