How long do cats live? What You Should Know

cat lifespan
(Last Updated On: December 30, 2021)

We know that animals age differently than humans. For dogs, it can often be predicted based on size and breed. For other animals, it is predicted in terms of their average age in captivity versus in the wild.

So, how long do cats live? Well, cats are a little harder to figure out.

There are so many factors that decide just how many years our feline friends will live. Whether its the dangers of predators and speeding vehicles faced by outdoor cats, or the nutrition and medical conditions experienced by indoor cats. We are going to discuss all these variables that are necessary to consider so your little kitty has a long and happy life.

Tabby Cat Lifespan

Cat Years to Human Years

The life expectancy of a cat (or cat lifespan) can be determined by comparing their age to human years. Studies seem to show that the first couple of years of a cat’s life could be measured to the equivalent to 25 years of a human’s.

After that, each year they age could be seen as the equivalent of about for of our years. This isn’t an exact science, but it’s our best estimate of human age of your kitty.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Cat

One of the most important factors in deciding the life span of your cat is their habitat. The choice of indoor vs outdoor usually comes down to the breed, as those such as Persian, Sphynx and Siamese cats are more likely to prefer a life of pampering indoors, whilst Norweigian Forest, savannah and European shorthair cats tend to choose a life of roaming around in the wild on the hunt.

Both of these cats face different challenges in their attempts at growing old and grey – furred.

How Long do House Cats Live?

Although there is no way to determine exactly how long your house cat can live, it has been shown that they are more likely to live longer if they stay inside.

This holds true as long as they are getting the right nutrition and a proper amount of exercise and stimulation. This means ensuring that they are eating plenty of healthy food, keeping them running around and then hydrating as much as possible. Great ways of assuring these lifestyles include finding a great automatic cat feeder, kitty toys for entertainment and cat water fountains for maximum hydration.

Also, keeping them inside of course means you are protecting them from any predators that may hunt them. This is important It also means that they are less likely to be exposed to diseases that can kill them.

Some house cats have been known to live well into their teens and twenties, so if you follow the advice of your vet and look after their wellbeing, you could see much more of your furry friend!

How Long do Outdoor Cats Live?

Outdoor cats run the risk of cutting their lives short. Although this may reduce a cat’s lifespan, this may not always be the case. Cat’s are territorial and tend to stay within certain boundaries they set for themselves.

Accidents are generally what they are at risk of being killed by. They may get hit by a passing car, or they may be attacked by a wild animal.

Cats also will fight with each other over their territory and other things. This always poses risks to your cat in terms of the wounds themselves, as well as the diseases that they can contract (more in this in the vaccines section below).

So there are certainly more factors of a cat’s lifespan which are out of your control when they roam the great outdoors, so make sure you know these risks when choosing the breed of your cat.


There are certain diseases that your cat can contract that other animals or humans cannot. If your cat spends time outdoors, they can be exposed to a plethora of diseases.

Feline Leukemia can suppress their immune system and eventually lead to death. Heartworms are common in outdoor cats due to exposure to mosquitoes that are infected with this. Another big one is Rabies.

If your cat gets into a fight with a stray or feral cat or is defending itself against a predator that is cattier, they can easily contract this deadly disease.

Luckily, there are vaccines for these and if you have your vet provide these vaccines as scheduled you can prevent your cat from contracting and spreading these diseases.

What Are the Signs of a Cat Dying

feline dying

We never can adequately prepare ourselves for the moment that we may lose our beloved pet, but if you are worried about your cat and feel a visit to the vet is in order, there are signs to look for.


A cat is a creature of habit. If you notice a change in behavior it could be due to the fact that your cat is sick or may be dying.

When a cat’s health is failing, it will hide. It wants a quiet place to Rest In Peace so you will find that it will go somewhere quiet. Cats like hiding in general, so it will most likely be a place that is not one of their usual hiding places.

If your cat is feeling pain, it will cry. This is a longer more mournful sound that their usually meowing and it can be persistent. This can be their way of telling you that something is wrong.

If your cat seems confused or is losing cognitive function this could be a sign that the end is near. This can happen in their later years, but it could happen at any time.

A visit to the vet could determine that it is something else, but any of these symptoms to at least warrant a visit.


Loss of appetite is one of the biggest red flags that your cat may be dying. This coupled with not drinking water is an indication that something is really wrong. This can cause weight loss too, but if your cat is losing weight rapidly despite having a semi-normal appetite then it may be time to prepare yourself.

Many times, near the end, your cat’s breathing can become labored. Struggling to breathe may indicate that the organs are shutting down and you will want to make sure your cat is comfortable.

If you feel your cat may be in any type of pain, make an appointment with your vet to get in as soon as possible. 

Do Cats Know They Are Dying?

It may seem that a cat knows it’s dying because its behaviors reflect its illness and often they go somewhere to hide in order to die.

Really what is happening is the usual instinctual behavior for a cat when they become ill. Just because they go and hide or their behavior changes doesn’t necessarily mean they know what is happening.

It’s difficult to understand this when you have such a close connection to your cat. If they have a disease that has progressed to the point of getting ready to pass on, then it may seem as if they are telling us that they are ready to go.

The changes in their eating habits and other changes are just indicators that they aren’t feeling well. It’s just being communicated to us in a different way.

Keeping Your Cat Young At Heart

Keeping your cat healthy is going to be the trick to a longer life span. There are several things you can do to keep your cat around for a long time.


Although cats seem to be loners, they do love having a friend around. Having more than one cat can make them feel less isolated and encourage them to bond and play with each other. This provides a great opportunity to help maintain the overall health of your cat.


Feeding your cat a healthy diet—especially as they age—is another great way to ensure their health. This holds true for indoor cats especially because they tend to be more sedentary due to the fact that they have a limited space to explore

Play With Your Cat

This is a great way to prevent obesity in your cat. If you have chosen to keep your cat indoors, you want to play with it and encourage it to be as active as possible.

Cats need stimulation to keep them active and healthy and playing with them provides this.


As your cat gets older, you will find that it thrives on and has its own routine. Encourage this because when your cat feels safe then they are more likely to live a happier and healthier life in their elder years.

Lots of Love

There is something to be said about love and loving your pet. Your cat will thrive under your love and tender care. As they age, they tend to want more snuggles and this is especially important if they aren’t feeling great. Loving and caring for your cat will help you to be more attentive to your cat’s needs.

Announce Yourself

An aging cat could be hard of hearing and may startle easily. To make sure they continue to feel comfortable in their surroundings let them know you are in the room if you see them or you suspect they are in there.


It’s inevitable. Our cats will die. Some sooner rather than later. If we do our part by ensuring they have a healthy and active lifestyle, then we are doing the best for them and hopefully adding a few extra years to their lives.

By making sure that we feed them proper nutrition, keep them up to date on their vaccinations, and get them to the vet periodically for a check-up, then we are making sure that they are going to be around for a long time.

Loving our cats throughout their lives will ensure that they feel loved at the end of it. Whether they die of natural causes or you have to make the difficult decision of euthanizing them, they will know you always loved them.

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