How Long Do Cats Live? – Stages of Life
In this article we will look at not only the answer to the question “How long do cats live”, but also the stages of life they will go through, and how to care for them as their age progresses.
Just like humans, cats are progressively living longer than ever. As advancements are made in veterinary medicine, vaccines and nutrition, it isn’t uncommon to see cats living to ages over 20.
A rough average age range would be somewhere between 12-16 years old. Overall though, indoor cats tend to outlive outdoor cats due to a few different factors.
Indoor cats tend to be brought up and cared for in a safe environment where they have access to clean water and are fed regularly. The chance for accidents is far less and owners tend to take care of their pets very well.
Remember that cats are naturally active creatures who will require regular exercise. Routinely keeping your cat regularly entertained will also help avoid obesity. It is best to introduce a cat to an indoor life from kittenhood. Trying to adapt an outdoor cat to an indoor life is not advised and can cause them to be unhappy and be destructive as their instinctive drives may not be getting fulfilled.
It is a good thing to ensure an indoor cat has a quiet or secluded place to go if you have guests over. This can relieve them from being too stressed out.
Owners of indoor cats should still ensure that they are vaccinated and sterilized for the best chance of living a long and healthy life.
Outdoor cats have more environmental risks. For example, a cat is far more likely to be involved in an accident with a car if it lives near well-used roads. Cats do however generally develop a good road sense and their reflexes are fast which means that accidents aren’t common even though they do happen.
Cats may also want to settle underneath car engines that are still warm, and possibly in them. So try to take time to check for this if any new cars are in their territory.
Also, outdoor cats can be more vulnerable to dangerous viruses. For example Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukaemia can be contracted via getting injured from fighting and being in contact with a cat that is already infected.
Keep in mind that cat breed is also factor in answering the question “How long do cats live”.
Let’s now look at the different stages in the life of a cat, what to expect and how we can do our best to keep them happy and healthy.
Cat Life Stages
Kitten (0–7 months old)
At this age, your cat is a sponge for information. They will be taking in everything from their surroundings and building familiarities.
Because a kitten is learning so much at this time, the kitten stage is always the best time to introduce your cat to other pets and teach them to get used to being handled. Kittens can be introduced to children too.
At this stage in their lives, they will grow rapidly! Cats never stop remaining amazingly cute though!
You should think about making sure your kitten is neutered to ensure there are no unwanted litters if you do not intend to breed.
Junior – (7 months to 2 years old)
During this stage of their life, your cat will reach their fully grown size and begin to be ready to mate.
Cats are still learning a lot about how to behave at this stage, so it is important to play nice with them and not over excite them too often. We know children often like to play a little rough with them, so keeping child/cat play time supervised is encouraged.
Cats will chase anything small that will roll on the floor and there are simple toys that can be bought or made to keep them active and having fun!
Teasing your cats with your hands/fingers can cause your cats to want to scratch or bite, which won’t be as fun when they grow older and it starts to hurt a little more!
Prime (3 to 6 years old)
Cats in their prime will be active, healthy but still young. Although their immune system may be at its best and your cat will wiser to their environment, they will often still get themselves into sticky situations.
Cats can be territorial, so finding your furry friend in an angry sounding face off with neighbour’s cat could be a regular occurrence. Some cats will be happy to make friends, whereas others just want to establish dominance over their territory.
Scratches from one cat to another can become infected and cause your cat to feel under the weather. So ensure to check in with your vet should any accidents happen.
Regular vet check ups are still encouraged for general health checks, and to ensure your cat is kept up to date with vaccinations.
Mature (7 to 10 years old)
At this stage in your cats life, you may start to notice that they become a little mellower in their personality. This doesn’t happen with all cats, as some continue will be really energetic up until their later years.
This may mean that you find your cat wanting to snuggle up to you more often (that’s not a bad thing at all!) and not chase toys around as much as they used to. They will still be playful, but more particular about when!
You may want to keep tabs on how much food you feed your cat as their level of activity decreases. Remember that certain treats can be very fattening for your cat.
Senior (11 to 14 years old)
The senior stage of life would be equal to around 70 years old for a human. In some cats however, they may still be very active but just not quite as naughty as they used to be!
Your cat may want to lounge around a lot more often and have regular cat naps, so try to keep them active with simple toys. You’ll learn what your cat responds the best to as they grow up, so it is doubtful that you will find this difficult!
Your cat may prefer being indoors more often at this stage and some people may experience a closer connection with them as they mellow and stay close to you.
Geriatric (15 years and onwards)
This stage in a cats life can be similar to the senior stage, and you may not see much change until your cat gets to its final couple of years. It really depends on the individual cat.
At some point you will definitely see your cat slowing down. They may be much less responsive to their toys and general stimulus.
It is common for cats to experience eyesight and hearing loss at the later stages, in which case you will have to keep them monitored more closely. Your cat may also be susceptible to illness as their immune system becomes less effective.
Regular check-ups will be required, especially if your cat exhibits unusual behaviour.
Your cat will still be your loyal friend and the close bond won’t break. They will love you until their final days! They will just require more care and close monitoring.
We all know the answer to “How long do cats live” is really, forever. As the memory of our dear friends will never be lost.
Things to know about older cats
Claws – You may find that in older cats, you may need to clip the claws fairly regularly as they become more brittle and long. Your cat may not be taking care of them as much as it used to.
Dental – Your cats will need more regular checks on their teeth. Dental issues can arise and become a problem as cats get older. If your cat isn’t eating well, this could well be a sign of them experiencing pain whilst they eat due to these problems.
Fur – Your cats’ fur may become matted more often due to your cat not taking as much time to groom themselves. This may result in skin odour and inflammation.
Hazy eyes – Your cat may develop a hazy looking lens. This doesn’t always affect your cats’ ability to see, however high blood pressure and other diseases can cause sight loss.
Kidney issues – Kidneys can lose some of their function as cats get older. Failure of the kidneys is a common occurrence in senior cats and the signs of this can vary a lot. Regular check-ups to find issues early on can really help your cat have an improved quality of life.
- Arthritis – It is common for old cats to develop arthritis, or degenerative joint disease. Take care to ensure your cat has easy access to food, water and litter without having to climb stairs or jump up to higher levels. You may find a cat with arthritis won’t spend much time grooming themselves.