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Cat Ages in Human Years and Other Facts About the Feline Lifespan

Updated on October 17, 2013

Thanks to advancements in feline health care and nutrition, the life expectancy of a cat has increased a shocking 200% over the past 20 years. A cat that is properly cared for can live as long as 19 years or more, while in 1993, the life expectancy was only 5 years. Although there is no definite way to predict how long your cat will live, comparing their ages to human years may allow you to better prepare for their senior age.

Cat/Human Age Relevancy

If you are a pet parent interested in learning about your cat's life stages, odds are, you've heard of the 7:1 ratio. This simply means that every 7 cat years is equal to 1 human year. However, this method produces distorted result when used among cat ages. Not only was it originally intended for dogs, but by using this system, an 18-year-old cat would be equal to an 126-year-old human! (18 is a common life expectancy for cats, however we are yet to see an 126-year-old human) Unfortunately, there is no definite ratio to compare cat years to human years, but the below chart has proven to be very accurate when determining age relevancy.

Cat Life Stage
Age in Cat Years
Age in Human Years
0 to 3 months
0 to 4 years
4 to 6 months
6 to 10 years
7 months
12 years
12 months
15 years
18 months
21 years
2 years
24 years
Ragdoll Cat
Ragdoll Cat

How Old Do Cats Live?

If you are considering adopting a cat, one of the most important things to consider is their life expectancy. While a cat's life span can vary greatly depending on the care they receive, the average feline life expectancy is 13-16. This statistic is for the well cared-for non-pedigree indoor cat, however, it would be much lower for a cat living outdoors. Some sources claim it would be 5-7 years, while others may go as low as 1-3 years. This is largely due to premature deaths such as vehicle accidents, wild predators, diseases, and parasites. The life expectancy of a pedigree cat is generally a few years shorter due to inherited diseases. These are the life spans of the most common cat breeds.

  • Siamese - 14 -18 years
  • Persian - 12 - 14 years
  • Abyssinian - 11 - 15 years
  • Ragdoll - 15 - 19 years
  • American Shorthair - 14 - 16 years
  • Sphynx - 15 -17 years

Outdoor dangers such as feral cats can be hazardous to your cat's health
Outdoor dangers such as feral cats can be hazardous to your cat's health

Maximizing Your Cat's Potential Lifespan

There are hundreds of factors that increase and decrease your cat's life expectancy every day, and as cat owners, we want to ensure that our cats live as long as possible. Even though there are some factors, such as genetics, that are not within a pet owner's control, there are other various ways to make sure your cat lives a long, healthy life

  • Indoor or Outdoor -

As stated above, the indoor cat generally lives longer that an outdoor-only cat. This is largely due to car accidents, predators, chemicals, and diseases that are present outdoors. Veterinarians claim that keeping your cat indoors is the ideal choice, however, cats living exclusively inside are prone to obesity, which can greatly decrease the cat's life span. The best way to prevent this problem is to frequently exercise your cat and feeding a healthy diet.

  • Spaying/Neutering -

Studies have shown that spaying or neutering your cat can increase their lifespan by up to 62% (male) or 39% (female). Sterilizing your cat or kitten greatly, if not completely, reduces the chances of possibly fatal reproductive organ diseases. Also, neutering eliminates many undesirable behavior traits, such as marking, wandering and fighting, which are common reasons for owners to give up their pets to shelters.

  • Veterinary Care -

The importance of veterinary care on your cat's health cannot be emphasized enough. Undoubtedly, the most important step is adequate vaccinations. All cats should be immunized for Feline Panleukopenia (Distemper), Rabies, Calcivirus, Rhinotrachetis, and Feline Leukemia. Other options depend on your veterinary clinic, but may include, Peritonitis, Chlamydia, and Ringworm vaccines. While vaccines are a good start, you will still need to take your cat to its veterinarian for regular checkups as well as if the cat is showing any signs of illness.

  • Proper Feeding -

Proper nutrition is a crucial aspect to your cat's health, however, it is often overlooked. The best choice to feed your cat is not always the highly advertised commercial cat food. Some advocate feeding your cat home-cooked meals, however, if you are not experienced in this area, high quality commercial cat food is usually the best choice. High quality food can be distinguished by high levels of proteins, low level of carbohydrates, and high quality ingredients such as Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal and vegetables.

  • Avoiding Dangerous Situations -

Even indoor cats are at risk to the hundreds of dangers inside the home, most of which seem like innocent substances or appliances. For example, Lilies appear to be completely harmless , while in reality, the flower contains a chemical that can be fatal to cats when ingested. It is crucial that you thoroughly check your house for items that can be dangerous to cats and remove them immediately. Below is a chart of common household substances that can be potentially fatal to cats.

Symptoms of Consumption
Acetominophen (Tylenol)
Vomiting, weakness, swelling of face and legs
Vomiting, depression, seizure, coma, nausea
Muscle tremors, restlessness, irritability, vomiting
Convulsions, drooling, irritation, swelling of mouth
Depression, anorexia, anemia, vomiting
Egyptian Mau
Egyptian Mau

Other Interesting Facts

  • The oldest cat ever recorded was a female tuxedo cat named Creme Puff. She was born August 3rd, 1967 and died on August 6th 2005 at the unbelievable age of 38 years.

  • While the lifespan of an Egyptian Mau is only 13-16 years, its ancestry dates back over 3,000 years making it the oldest documented cat breed

  • Female cats usually live 1-2 years longer than males cats.

  • The average feral cat has a life expectancy of 6 years.

  • A cat living to 18 years would have spent 12 years of its life sleeping.

  • After old age, the most common cause for death among cats is cancer, while second is kidney failure, and third is traffic accidents.

  • Cats age approximately 4.9 times faster than humans.

Final Thoughts

Thanks to advancements in feline care, the average cat life expectancy has more than tripled that of 20 years ago. And although many cats are living well into their 20's, this do not mean that a cat living only 13,14, or 15 years was improperly cared for. In fact, even taking the time to read this article has proved that you are a caring and responsible pet owner who is looking to enhance their cat's well being. Overall, if dedication and perseverance are put into the care of a pet, you can look forward to a long, happy life with you cat.

© 2013 NicoleEnglish


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      My cat is 22 and still going strong .

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      My cat is 21 so in her 100s in human years! She's still going strong, here's to beating Creme Puff's record!

    • peachpurple profile image


      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      my cat should be in her 64 years of age by now, she has greate appetite and fights with other cats

    • profile image

      New Cat Lover 

      4 years ago

      Wow, i just love hearing stories like you fine folks posted ~ about your cats living past 20! My little fella was found inside a subway terminal all by his lonesome at 1 week old. Now, he's a healthy, vibrant 3 year old with all the energy in the world! Hear's hoping that he'll reach the big 2-0!

    • profile image

      pups and cats 

      4 years ago

      this means that my cat is 23 years old WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • triciapilates profile image


      4 years ago

      This means that my 18 year old cat is equivalent to 88 in human years. Yet she can still run up the garden path and play with a ping pong ball when she is in the mood. Hoping for a little longer.......

    • Jools Rixon profile image

      Julian Rixon 

      5 years ago from Cork, Ireland

      Always useful to know your cat's age and, as you point out, particularly useful in preparing for its senior years. Nutrition plays a massive part in contributing to how long a cat lives. I've known one cat live 22 years!


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