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How Long Do Cats Live, and Advice for Older Cats

How Long Do Cats Live, and Advice for Older Cats

Where would we be without our wonderful feline companions? Today, many cats live long happy lives, not because they have become smarter (although they are very clever!) but advances in scientific research have helped prevent feline disease and educate humans on how to improve our cats' welfare.

After 20 years of research, Ceva launched FELIWAY Optimum, a new feline pheromone complex which helps us better understand feline communication and, importantly, provides a message of enhanced serenity to cats.

A cat's lifespan can vary greatly depending on the breed, their welfare and lifestyle, and whether they are neutered or not.

Additionally, improvements in diet, healthcare and the home environment means that domestic cats can now live up to 20 years, with an average lifespan of around 12-15 years.   The oldest cat on record (Crème Puff, a cat living in Texas) reached the dizzy age of 38 years old, that's a whopping 168 years old in human years!

small kitten in owners lap

6 life stages of a cat

Cats develop and mature much faster than humans. For example, within two years most kittens will change from being a ball of fluff in the palm of your hand, to reaching sexual maturity and maximum growth.

  • Up to 6 months old. This is the quickest growth phase and your kitten will be on a steep learning curve and discovering what is safe/normal around them.
  • 6 months to 2 years old. Your cat is considered to be a Junior.  They will have finished growing and reached sexual maturity, but they are still learning to hone their skills such as stalking and hunting.
  • Cats between the ages of 3 and 6 years are considered to be Adults and will probably be at their peak of physical fitness.
  • Cats are considered Mature between the ages of 7 and 10 years 
  • Your cat may start to show signs of slowing down between the ages of 11-14 years when they are considered to be Senior cats.
  • A Super Senior cat will be 15 years +, when you will probably notice changes in their behaviour, such as increased vocalisation and changes in their bathroom habits.

It can be complicated to calculate the equivalent age of your cat in human years as cats develop faster than humans in their first few years of life. It was previously assumed that we could multiply the cat's age x 7, but the following guide is now thought to be more accurate.

Feline Years

Human Years

6 months

10 years

12 months

15 years

2 years 

24 years

3 years

28 years

6 years

40 years

7 years 

44 years

10 years

56 years

11 years

60 years

15 years

76 years

20 years

96 years

 

However, when a cat is fully developed both physically and behaviourally (usually from around 3 years of age), their outward appearance may change little for many years, so it can be difficult to tell the age of an adult cat if you have not lived with them since they were a kitten.

Tips to help your cat live longer

Despite keeping their youthful looks for many years, a cat's body is still ageing, and it is important to consider how to manage their health and behaviour to maintain their wellbeing.

There is no evidence that an indoor or outdoor lifestyle has a significant impact on a cat's lifespan. Outdoor cats may have altercations with other cats or animals and they may be more at risk from road traffic accidents. Conversely, it is argued they have more exercise and mental stimulation which benefits their health. Indoor cats may avoid the dangers from outdoors, but they could be more prone to obesity and have less mental stimulation.

ginger cat enjoying head rub from owner

However: 

  • It is thought that neutered cats live longer, because they are less likely to roam and encounter danger, they have fewer behavioural issues, and they are less susceptible to infections and degenerative diseases.
  • Make sure your cat has regular health checks, depending on the age of your cat, this should be at least once a year. Kittens and older cats should be checked out more frequently however; kittens will need a couple of visits to have their vaccinations and be neutered. And as the ISFM recommends, more senior cats should have six-monthly checks, including  blood pressure screenings from the age of 7 to keep them in purrfect health! 
  • Ensure your cat is vaccinated by your vet and also receives their regular boosters alongside appropriate parasite treatments. Your vet will be able to advise you on what is required.
  • Encourage physical and mental exercise, just as in humans, it is important to keep your cat's body and mind healthy.
  • Make sure they have a healthy diet and that their food is age appropriate. As our cats get older, their nutrient requirements change too. A junior cat will require more calories than a senior cat, as the junior will be expending more energy. 
  • Try and keep your cat indoors at night, as there is a higher risk of a cat being involved in a road traffic accident at night, particularly in winter, when a cat can be disoriented by car headlights.

Advice for looking after older cats

As your cat grows older, their lifestyle and behaviour will change. Below are some natural aging changes that you should look out for, as well as signs that it's time to check with the vet:

  • As they age, your cat's activity levels may reduce and they may have more cat naps. Allow them to do this, but encourage them to have some playtime too.
  • They may be reluctant to jump up and down onto surfaces, now is the time to provide extra stepping stages to their favourite spots.
  • You may see a change in their eyesight or hearing, if this change is sudden, always check with your vet as it can be a sign of something more serious. If your cat is struggling with their vision or hearing, be careful when approaching them to avoid scaring them unexpectedly. Keep their environment stable, and try not to make big changes. FELIWAY Optimum is a great way to support your older cat, providing them enhanced serenity as they continue into their golden years.
  • Older cats may use the litter tray more often. Sometimes this can indicate there's a medical issue.
  • A change in body weight. If they are losing weight, you should have them checked out by a vet for any underlying conditions. If they are gaining weight, they may not be having enough exercise to burn the calories.
  • Older cats are more likely to develop kidney disease, an overactive thyroid and high blood pressure. Often the effects of Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) are mistaken for signs of aging. But a quick visit to the vet can help identify problems or serious diseases and get life-saving treatment started as soon as possible. 
  • As their sense of smell or taste may have lessened, they may not seem excited to eat their food. Try warming their meals so they smell more, split meals into smaller, more frequent servings, or try to encourage them to use a puzzle feeder to encourage them to eat and stimulate them at the same time.
  • Keep an eye on their water intake. Older cats are more prone to kidney disease or constipation; try putting water bowls on the floor instead of on a higher surface; elevate the bowl so they do not have to bend their necks; try adding water to their food, or changing to wet food instead of kibble. Cats also love a water fountain!

black cat with elderly owner

  • Many older cats suffer from joint pain or dental problems which you may not detect.  A regular health check will help detect early signs and reduce suffering.
  • An older cat may not be as flexible, so grooming themselves might be more difficult.  A gentle hand helping them to groom will not only help their wellbeing but maintain the close bond you have. It will also help you keep a watchful eye on any skin conditions or over-grooming by your cat. If you train them to get used to basic grooming when they are young, it will be easier for you to continue when they are older.
  • Because of those grooming flexibility challenges, their coat may be more lacklustre than it has been. They may need a different diet, but always check with your vet first.
  • Adapt their living environment to suit their advancing years:
    • Put all their resources on one level.
    • Increase the number of comfy spots around the home for them, and make sure that they are comfortably warm and accessible.
    • They will probably still want to be able to have a high spot where they can feel safe and out of harm's way. Make sure you provide extra ramps or steps, and their access is less challenging.
    • Ensure their litter tray is accessible and easy for them to get in and out of.  As older cats may be more prone to medical conditions, you may need to have more trays around as they may urinate more.
    • Older cats don't always lose their playful instincts, but they may not be fit enough to enjoy the ‚'chase' as much as they used to, so adjust games so they do not need to jump or run as much. But don't forget to reward them just the same with their favourite treats and toys!
    • Routine is just as important at any feline age, so keep any changes to a minimum so that they maintain familiarity and predictability through the day.

By looking out for these changes, and supporting them as they age, you'll be able to help your furry friend live a happy kitty life!

Are you interested in learning more about cat health? We love hearing from you so please don’t hesitate to get in touch! You can also stay informed with our latest information on our new appeasing product FELIWAY Happy Snack, as well as further tips, by signing up to our newsletter.

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