How Long Do Cats Usually Live? The Lifespan of Felines
The lifespan of the average house cat depends on many factors: breed, diet, lifestyle, and whether the cat is an indoor or an outdoor cat. While nobody can say definitively how long any particular cat may live, here are some general guidelines that may help you determine how long your particular cat may make it.
Note: I've been an owner of cats my entire life and have had a couple live more than 20 years - and those were outdoor cats for much of their lives. However, I suspect their extended lifespan was also due to them becoming mostly indoor cats for the latter half of their lives.
Indoor Cats (12-14 Years)
Keeping your cat indoors is the best thing you can do for them to live and long and healthy life. Additionally, having them spayed or neutered and taking them for regular visits to the vet also help. Indoor cats usually get plenty of exercise, so that should not be a concern. The reason that indoor cats live so much longer than outdoor cats has to do with exposure to disease, other animals, and the general risk of being outdoors.
Outdoor Cats (3-4 Years)
It's not uncommon for cat owners to argue for the importance of letting their cats roam outdoors. After all, the domestic house cat is related to much larger wild cats who are hunters and hunting can only be done outside. However, cats are perfectly content inside. It is a rare cat who demands to be let outside (and I've owned them). Usually though, a cat who is kept inside is happy and doesn't need to go out.
If you decide to let your cat outside, just know that not only will you lower its life expectancy, you expose it to many other elements that will raise your cost of ownership. Consistent vet visits are absolutely necessary with an outdoor cat. The lower life expectancy of outdoor cats is due to this exposure. Sadly, in my day, many of my outdoor cats were hit by cars and this problem undoubtedly leads to the sharp decline in life expectancy.
Feral Cats (2-3 Years)
Feral or stray cats have the shortest life expectancy of the common house cat. They are subject to much exposure and are often sick in some way when they are captured and brought into shelters. Shelters are often forced to euthanize feral cats due to that disease. Having never visited a vet, these cats carry all sorts of nasty bugs that can be transmitted to other cats.
The short life expectancy of the feral cat should be a warning to cat owners who choose to let their cats outside as those cats experience much of the same exposure.
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