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Better vet treatments and care mean that our pet cats are living longer than ever. Learn about a cat’s average lifespan, their lifecycle and more

If you’ve got a pet cat, or are thinking about getting one, you might be wondering; how long do pet cats live in human years?

A cat’s life expectancy will depend on many factors, including health, diet and their environment, but the average lifespan for a domestic cat is about 12 to 14 years. However, some pet cats can live to be around 20 years old. The breed is also often considered a factor in determining a cat's life expectancy, but this is no guarantee. 

The good news is that advances in veterinary care and awareness of good cat welfare mean that domestic cats are living longer than they used to.

A  photo of a white-and-grey cat with text saying '#MatureMoggiesDay 16 June' and the Cats Protection logo

Sadly though, cats in our care aged 11 years and older take an average of one month to find their new forever homes, over three times longer than kittens who take just eight days.

To show that these older cats still have a lot to give, Cats Protection has launched Mature Moggies Day on 16 June, encouraging people to share inspiring stories of their older cats with #MatureMoggiesDay.

How old is the world's oldest cat?

brunette woman with tortoiseshell cat on her lap and holding framed Guinness World Records certificate

The Guinness World Records™ title for the oldest cat alive in 2022 is currently held by Flossie, who is 26 years old. Flossie arrived in the care of Cats Protection Tunbridge Wells, Crowborough & District Branch in 2022 and Branch Co-ordinator Naomi Rosling said: “We were flabbergasted when vet records showed Flossie to be nearly 27 years old. She’s the oldest cat I've ever met; at least 120 in human years.”

Flossie was rehomed with Vicki Green, in Orpington, who said: “I knew from the start that Flossie was a special cat, but I didn’t imagine I’d be sharing my home with a world record holder. She’s so affectionate, playful and sweet, especially when you remember how old she is. I’m immensely proud that Cats Protection matched me with such an amazing cat.”

Flossie had remained in the same extended family since being homed as a young stray in 1995. She had been living in a colony of cats near a Merseyside hospital, when two workers took pity on them and each homed a cat. They lived together for 10 years until the owner died and Flossie was taken in by her sister. After another 14 happy years, the new owner also passed away. Flossie was aged at least 24 at that time. For the next three years, Flossie lived with the woman’s son, until his situation led him to make the difficult decision to relinquish the family cat to Cats Protection.

Craig Glenday, Editor in Chief at Guinness World Records™ said: "We were so excited to hear about the lovely Flossie and celebrate her long life. It’s not every day you come across a cat who has been around since the mid-nineties. This is the human equivalent of over 120 years old, which would put her on par with Jeanne Calment, the French supercentenarian who lived to 122 years 164 days and holds the record for the oldest person ever.”

The world record for the oldest cat ever is held by Crème Puff, a cat from Texas in the USA who lived to be 38 years and three days old, the longest lifespan of any known domestic cat! 

What type of cat has the longest lifespan?

While there is no guarantee that a cat will live a long and healthy life, there are some breeds that are known to live longer than others. Siamese, Burmese and Ragdoll are just a few of these breeds. But remember, a healthy diet, good exercise and other external factors are all vital for ensuring a long life for your pet cat.

Black-and-white cat

How long are cat years?

Similarly to dogs, cat life stages can be roughly equated to human years, meaning that we can calculate a cat’s age both in cat years and human years. However, this is complicated, as cats mature much more in their first human year than they do for the rest of their lives. This is much like humans, who age slower and slower as years go by. Below you will find ages in terms of cat years equated roughly to human years.

After three years, your cat has developed as much as a 28-year-old human will. After this stage, every cat year equates to around four human years. So, an 11-year-old cat is 60 in human years.

An infographic with a chart showing the age of a cat and the equivalent human age

When are cats considered ‘old’ in their lifecycle?

Cats go through six life stages as they grow, and they start to be considered ‘old’ when they reach the ‘mature’ stage at age seven. However, they typically don't start slowing down until they reach the 'senior' stage at 11 years old. The six life stages of a cat's lifecycle are:

How to tell the age of a cat

If you do not know the date a cat was born, then it can be difficult to determine their exact age. For the best estimate of a cat’s age, take them to a vet who will be able to examine their teeth, eyes, coat and other factors to do with their health and body condition to determine roughly how old they are.

How long do indoor cats live?

Tortoiseshell-and-white cat curled up asleep on velvet green armchair with orange patterned cushion

Cats that go outdoors are more likely to encounter risks such as road traffic accidents, fights with other cats and other dangers that could affect their life expectancy. However, they are also likely to get more exercise as they have more space to roam, which helps to keep them fit and healthy. Currently there is limited evidence to suggest that adopting either an indoor or outdoor lifestyle results in a significantly long lifespan. If you do keep your cat indoors, they’ll need plenty of opportunities to exercise with fun toys they can chase and catch. There are still other risks to pet house cats, so you’ll need to monitor them closely to keep them healthy for longer.

How to help your cat live longer

There are six simple steps you can take to help increase the life expectancy of your cat.

  1. Get them neutered. Neutered cats tend to live longer as it prevents them from picking up diseases through mating and they are less likely to roam far from home which decreases the chance of road traffic accidents and cat fights
  2. Have regular vet checks. Taking your cat to the vet for a check-up at least once a year will help you to catch any health issues early so they can receive effective treatment
  3. Get them vaccinated. Making sure your cat is up-to-date with all their vaccinations will help to protect them from any nasty diseases that could shorten their life
  4. Encourage exercise. Whether your cat goes outdoors or not, try to spend a little bit of time each day encouraging them to play so they can get some exercise and stay physically fit
  5. Feed a healthy diet. Make sure your cat is eating a complete cat food suitable for their age as this will contain all the nutrients they need for a long and healthy life. Avoid giving too many cat treats as these can be high in calories and cause them to put on weight
  6. Keep them indoors at night. The risks of your cat being involved in a road traffic accident or fighting with another cat are higher at night, so we recommend keeping them indoors when it’s dark

Find more advice on keeping your cat healthy.

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