Health and Safety

The Secret of Cat Longevity


The notion that cats have nine lives is definitely an old wives tale. But, it is true that felines tend to live longer than many other kinds of animals. Potential pet owners are sometimes wary of getting a family pet.  They worry the will be heartbroken if it passes away prematurely. Chances are that if you adopt a healthy kitten, the cat will live well over a decade. Also, cats are affectionate and relatively easy to care for. The years they spend with the family are likely to be pleasant ones for both the cat and the owners.



Cats, in general, live longer than dogs. The typical lifespan of a cat is about 15 years, while dogs tend to live for only 12 years. One reason cats live longer is they are not as vulnerable to the practice of specialized breeding.  There are specialized breeds of cats but there is not quite the obsession that exists in the dog world. With canine fanciers, there is a fondness for unusual sizes and types of dogs. This may lead to inbreeding among desperate dog sellers breeding for specific physical features.  Inbreeding may actually shorten a dog’s lifespan. Flat-faced dogs like spaniels, bulldogs, and pugs tend to have breathing difficulties.  They  tire easily and often suffer from obesity.  Cats, on the other hand, usually enjoy a hands-off approach when it comes to breeding.  As a result, they suffer fewer of the problems caused by this practice.



Most dogs require some outdoor time and need a lot of room to exercise. Cats find ways to exercise indoors and can be content staying inside all the time.  This makes them excellent pets for city dwellers.  Indoor living makes them less prone to pollutants and bacterial infections and diseases.  In fact, there is a marked difference between the life expectancy of an indoor cat and that of an outdoor cat. Cats who go outside may have more adventures, but they are more vulnerable to disease. Feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency syndrome are more common in outdoor cats. Fleas and ticks are also less of a problem.  A cat can live quite an active life indoors, unlike medium and large breeds of dogs.



There are many ways to ensure that your cat has a long and healthy life. One of them is to make sure your cat stays inside. While many kitties enjoy roaming, an indoor cat is less exposed to germs and diseases. It is also less likely to get hurt in a fight or hit by a car.  If you do let your cat out it is important to spay or neuter it.  Males who are not neutered are more likely to be injured or even killed in fights over females. Cats transmit many of their diseases through biting and scratching.  If you must let your cat live part of the time outside, at least make sure he or she is vaccinated. These vaccines help prevent deadly diseases.



Another thing you could do to improve your cats’ longevity is to ensure that he or she has the proper food. This means avoiding the temptation of giving your cat human food.  Cat food contains  ingredients such as fish, meat, chicken and vegetables. Although it seems the same as human food, it is not.  Cat food is still healthier for them than human food. Cat food is formulated and balanced for a cat’s special dietary needs.  It is a mistake to give raw meat to your cat, especially by putting it directly into its bowl. Bacteria can breed in the raw food that the cat may consume later, causing your pet to become sick.



While many people assume that cats should drink milk, the truth is, most felines are lactose intolerant. Give your cat plenty of fresh water instead.  Cats love canned tuna, but they can become addicted to it, and it is not healthy for them. The mercury in tuna can cause poisoning. Canned fish from the cat food section of your supermarket is a better choice. One thing you should never give your cat under any circumstances is chocolate. Caffeine and sugar are toxic for both dogs and cats and should be kept well out of their reach.




As your cat ages, it is important to know how to care for her to ensure that she lives out her years to the fullest.  Cat food is often age and health condition dependent. Kittens should be eating kitten food and senior cats should be eating senior food. There are cat foods  for overweight cats, diabetic cats, and cats with kidney issues. Check with your vet to choose a food that is best for your pet. The never ending question for feeding cats is, wet or dry. Wet food contains more protein. Dry food is important for dental health and providing needed carbohydrates and fiber. It is recommended to use a combination of both wet and dry food. As your cat gets older, obesity is likely to become a problem, because cats become less active. This is more common in indoor cats and particular breeds. Choose the right foods and encourage your cat to get more exercise. Try introducing special toys that involve running and jumping.



Arthritis also plagues older cats and can make it difficult to exercise, or even jump in and out of litter box. Make sure your cat is getting his or her annual veterinarian exams as they get older.  Be on the lookout for thyroid problems and diabetes. Have your cat weighed to make sure that he or she isn’t adding weight to the challenges of aging.


middle-aged-cat-going-to-bd-party2The fact that your cat can live up to nearly 2 decades means that it will spend much of its time as an elderly feline. You need to prepare yourself for caring for a cat in the later stages of life and to be sensitive to its needs. Know how to spot signs of arthritis and diabetes.  Develop healthy eating and exercise habits for felines early. Adjust for other life stages.



Your adult cat needs your love and care, just like it did when it was a kitten. Your cat will show signs of appreciation for your care and concern with a loud and affectionate purr.

If you enjoyed reading this you will love our article “Can You Help Your Grumpy Cat Out of Her Misery?”


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