An older white cat relaxes on a dresser.

Cat Lifespan: How Long Does the Average Cat Live?

We all wish our pets could live with us forever, providing endless joy and affection. Unfortunately, the average lifespan of a cat is considerably shorter than the average person’s. That shouldn’t scare prospective pet parents away. With the appropriate care, four-legged friends can live perfectly long and happy lives.

The average kitten owner can expect healthy domestic cats to live for more than a decade with an appropriate diet and healthcare regimen. Some feline fanciers have seen their pets live even longer, offering more than two decades of unconditional love.

How Long Do Indoor Cats Live?

The American Veterinary Medical Association advises cat owners that it is generally safer to keep cats indoors and that indoor cats tend to live longer lives. Cats that stay inside have an average lifespan between 10 and 15 years on average with many living well into their teens and twenties.

How Long Do Outdoor Cats Live?

Outdoor cats tend to live far shorter lives than their more domesticated counterparts. The University of California, Davis’ Clinical Animal Behavior Service reports that the average life expectancy of an outdoor cat is just two to five years.

Why Do Outdoor Cats Live Shorter Lives?

Outdoor felines face a range of potentially life-threatening dangers, including:

Cats who wander outdoors also risk theft or capture by animal control authorities. The chances of returning home increase dramatically when pets are microchipped and registered in the appropriate database.

How Do Cat and Human Years Compare?

You’ve probably heard the “fact” that dogs age seven human years every 365 days, but what about cats? According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), here’s how your cat’s age in “cat years” compares to their age in human years:

How Old Is Your Cat?

The average life expectancy of a cat suggests that many live the equivalent of a full human life. In 2019, the United Nations estimated that the average global life expectancy is 72.9 years. That’s a little more than 14 cat years.

Your Cat’s Life Stages

A cat’s average lifespan depends on a number of factors. Among these are genetic ones, passed down by a cat’s ancestors. As the examples below make clear, some breeds live longer than others:

Helping Your Cat Live a Long Life

Want to help your cat reach a ripe old age? Following a few simple guidelines can help your cat thrive well into adulthood and ensure you’ve got plenty of time together:

Veterinary Care

Even the savviest cat lover can’t do it all on their own. Your veterinarian is a partner in pet care, an expert who’ll offer hands-on guidance from the kitten days to the senior years. They’ll guide you on how to promote a happy, healthy life at home and help to recognize warning signs before they evolve into serious health concerns. Just like people, cats are susceptible to chronic health conditions that can shorten their lives and impact their standards of living. A good vet will ensure you’re doing everything you can to maximize your time with your pet without causing them undue stress or suffering.


Your vet will also prove essential in planning your cat’s diet. A feline’s nutritional needs will change as they age and a specialist can help ensure you’re always providing everything they require. If necessary, your vet may recommend supplementing commercial foods or even purchasing special prescription blends. Learn more about helping your cat maintain a healthy weight.


As discussed, indoor cats tend to live far longer than outdoor cats. While the average household includes its fair share of dangers, keeping cats indoors is generally considered a benefit to their longevity. Make sure to “cat-proof” your home, removing variables and hazards to create a safe environment. Remember to expect changes as your cat ages. You’ll probably need to make different adjustments for a senior cat than you’d make for a kitten.

Exercise and Engagement

Cats may look lazy, but that doesn’t mean they can do without physical and mental stimulation. Regular exercise isn’t just essential for keeping pets healthy, it’s crucial for their happiness too! Keeping pets engaged with toys and opportunities to explore can keep them from growing bored and listless while promoting mental sharpness into their geriatric period.

Pet Insurance

Cat insurance can’t stop pet health emergencies from taking place, but the financial safety net it provides can make a big difference when it comes time to administer care. Providers offer a range of options. The simplest policies offer coverage against accidents and illnesses alone, while more comprehensive ones cover everything from routine care to end-of-life expenses.

The Oldest Cat of All Time

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, an Austin, Texas cat named Creme Puff lived longer than any pet cat in history. Born in 1967, the American Shorthair was a devoted family companion for more than three decades, living to a whopping 38 years of age. The elderly cat’s doting family reported feeding him an unusual diet including such items as asparagus and heavy cream.