How Long Do Cats Live? – Home & Roost

How Long Do Cats Live?

How Long Do Cats Live?

Melinda Connor |

Ever wondered how long cats live for? We did, and so we decided we would look into it in a bit more detail.  In the UK, the life expectancy of a cat is anywhere between 12 and a half years up to 14. And in some cases, cats can even live past the age of 20. Of course, this is only an average, and there are a few external factors that can influence this. For example, their weight, whether they have been vaccinated and spayed or neutered, as well as whether they are indoor cats or live outside, can all play a role.

How Long Do Outside Cats Live?

A large percentage of domestic cats in the UK live outdoors. This means they're allowed to wander around outside, and generally come and go as they please. Unfortunately, while this way of living certainly has its perks, it also shortens their life expectancy. This is because they are exposed to various risks, including being hit on the road and attacks from other animals. Depending on where it lives, an outdoor cat will have an average lifespan of between two and five years.

Calculating a Cat's Age

You've probably heard that it's not as easy to calculate a cat's age in human years compared to dogs. But it turns out, that's not the case at all. Different breeds of dogs age differently, and their size also plays a role. Working out a cat's age, on the other hand, is a pretty straight forward formula.

To work out your feline's age in human years, all you need to know is that a two-year-old cat is the equivalent of a 24-year-old human. Every year after that counts as four human years. In other words, a cat that is 15 years old would be around 76 in human years, while a 20-year-old cat is equivalent to a 96-year-old person.

Life Stages of a Cat

A cat experiences different stages throughout its life. Knowing how best to care for your cat during each of these will keep your feline healthy and happy. 

Kitten stage

It's a fact, kittens are better than chocolate! And who doesn't love chocolate?

Bringing a kitten into your home allows you to introduce it to a whole lot of new things, including other pets, noises, children, along with being groomed and handled. Unfortunately, this is when they go through their most rapid growth, so we suggest you enjoy every moment with your furball as much as possible.

This is also the best time to ensure your kitten is vaccinated, spayed or neutered and microchipped.

Junior stage

Between the ages of about six months to about two years, your cat is considered a junior. It's during this time that the average cat will reach sexual maturity and stop growing, although some larger breeds do take longer. This is the age to teach your cat how to interact and play with people, by introducing appropriate toys, such as scratch posts and tunnels.

Prime stage

The prime stage for a cat is usually between three and six years of age. It's typically the best stage, other than when they're kittens, as they're healthy, playful and comfortable around their favourite humans. Regular health checks, vaccinations, a balanced diet and plenty of exercise during this stage will increase your cat's life expectancy.

Mature stage

In human years, a cat at this stage of its life would be around 40 to 50 years old. And in the same way, older people start to slow down, so do cats. Now is the time to keep an eye on your kitty's weight, and cut back on food or change formulas.  Indoor cats will typically be less active and enjoy basking in the sun and getting as much R&R as possible on a hammock, or in their beds.

Senior and Super-senior stage

Advances in veterinary care (think Supervet) and dietary formulas means an indoor cat lifespan could extend to 20 years and beyond. With this mind, the senior stage has been redefined. Your old cat is considered a senior when it's between the ages of 11 and 14 years old, while a super-senior or geriatric is a cat that is 15 years or older. 

If you're lucky enough to have an older cat in your care, it's worth keeping in mind its age in human years. This way, you will have a better understanding of how to look after it. Essential things to take note of around these senior stages are any noticeable changes in your cat's behaviour. More common things could include needing to go to the toilet more frequently, louder or increased vocalization.

Dementia is relatively common in older cats, so know what signs to look out for. If you think your kitty is showing symptoms of this disease, it's best to speak to your vet as soon as possible, to discuss treatment and care going forward.

5 Ways To Tell The Age of Stray or Adopted Cats

While it is much easier to tell the age of indoor or outdoor cats that have been with you from the time they were a kitten, it's not as straight-forward establishing the age of a stray or adopted cat. But there are a couple of clues that will give an indication.

1. Teeth

Checking the cat's teeth will give you an idea of its age. White teeth mean it's younger than one year, while a cat with yellowing teeth is probably between the ages of one and two. If you notice a build-up of tartar, the cat may be in the region of three to five years.

An older cat might have yellow or black teeth or even have a few missing. Remember though, there are several factors, other than age, that could affect the condition of a stray or adopted cat's teeth. Use this only as a gauge.

2. Coat

The coat is another indicator of a cat's age. An old cat's coat is usually thicker and more coarse compared to a younger cat. And senior, super-senior or geriatric cats might have grey or white patches of fur.  Again, this isn't a definitive way to tell its age, as some cat breeds may have coarse or thick fur even when it's a junior.

3. Eyes

Kittens and junior cats usually have clear and bright eyes.  Older cats, around 12 years and up, could have cloudy eyes or cataracts. Also, the iris will be more jagged than a younger cat's, which is usually smooth. If you notice a discharge, or that the cat is squinting, regardless of its age, you need to get it to the vet as soon as possible. This is because certain eye conditions can get worse quickly.

4. Muscle tone

You can also get an idea of a cat's age by feeling its muscle tone. Younger cats are typically toned and in good shape, whereas an older cat's skin may have protruding shoulder blades and hanging skin.

5. Habits

Although it isn't a given, you can also tell the age of an adopted or stray cat by observing its habits. Younger cats may be more playful and will interact with you and toys. An older cat, on the other hand, will be less interested in playing and spend more time sleeping.

Keep in mind that while these are good indicators of the age of the cat, some factors can also play a role. A junior cat, if unwell, won't necessarily have bright eyes or want to play. And if it has been living rough on the streets, there is an excellent chance the cat will look a lot older than it is.

If in doubt, it's a good idea to have your vet check your cat. This way, you can provide it with age-appropriate food and care.

Tell us, did you find this article helpful? If so, please share it with friends and other cat-lovers you know.