The Average Lifespan of a Cat: How Long is Your Cat Likely to Live?

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A cat sitting with it's pet parent ready to enjoy a long, happy life.

As cat owners, we all want our feline friends to live long and healthy lives. One of the most frequent questions cat owners ask is, "How long do cats live?" Understanding the average lifespan of a cat can help you provide the best care for your feline friend and make the most of your time together.  

The lifespan of a cat can vary widely depending on a variety of factors, including living conditions, breed, and genetics. In this article, we'll explore the average cat lifespan, factors that can affect their lifespan, and tips for helping your cat live a healthy and happy life. 

Average Lifespan of a Cat 

The average lifespan of a cat ranges from 9-18 years, with most cats living to 14-15 years of age.(1, 2) However, cats can live well into their twenties. Female cats have a paw up on male cats when it comes to life expectancy. Spayed or neutered cats also have a longer lease on life than their intact counterparts. And while outdoor cats may have more adventures, they also have shorter lifespans than indoor or mostly indoor cats. Finally, mixed-breed cats tend to have a longer average lifespan than purebreds. (1, 2)  

One of the oldest cats in recorded history was a tabby named Creme Puff, who lived to be 38 years old. Another cat, Nutmeg, who lived in the UK, passed away at the age of 32 in 2017. 

Factors That Affect a Cat's Lifespan 

Several factors may affect a cat's lifespan, including:  

  • Breed: Mixed breed cats tend to live longer than purebred cats.(1)  Some purebred cat breeds live longer than others. For example, some breeds, such as Birmans and Burmese cats, have longer lifespans, while others, like Bengals and Abyssinians, may have shorter lifespans.(1)   

  • Genetics: Like humans, a cat's genetics can also play a role in their lifespan. Some genetic factors may make certain cats more prone to health issues or conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. 

  • Diet and Exercise: Providing a healthy and balanced diet and regular exercise can also contribute to a longer lifespan for your cat. Obesity, lack of exercise, and poor nutrition can lead to a variety of health problems that can shorten your cat's lifespan.(1, 2, 3)   

  • Medical Care: Regular veterinary care, including preventative care such as vaccinations and check-ups, can help catch health issues early and prevent them from becoming more serious. Access to medical care and prompt treatment of health issues can help extend a cat's lifespan. 

  • Reproductive Status: Cats that have been spayed or neutered tend to live much longer than intact male or female cats.(1, 2)   

 Lifestyle factors can also play a significant role in the life expectancy of a cat.   

a cat with a good, long life being held by their pet parent.

How Long Do Indoor Cats Live? 

The average lifespan of indoor cats is around 9-18 years, with some cats living well into their twenties. This is largely because indoor cats are less likely to be exposed to hazards that can shorten their lifespan, including infectious diseases and traumatic accidents.(1)    

It's important to note that indoor cats can still develop health issues if they don't receive proper nutrition, vaccinations, and regular veterinary care. Indoor cats may be at higher risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and other conditions related to a sedentary lifestyle, which can decrease their lifespan. It's important to provide your indoor cat with regular exercise and a healthy diet to ensure that they live a long and healthy life. 

How Long Do Outdoor Cats Live? 

Outdoor cats tend to have shorter lifespans than indoor cats. The average lifespan of an outdoor cat is around 4-13 years, with some cats living much longer.(1, 2)  Outdoor cats are at higher risk of being hit by traffic, attacked by other animals and exposed to disease-carrying parasites like fleas and ticks. Additionally, they are at greater risk of contracting an infectious disease or being exposed to deadly chemicals or toxins in the environment. 

If you have an outdoor cat, it's important to take steps to reduce their risks. This includes ensuring that they receive regular veterinary care, getting them spayed/neutered, keeping them up-to-date on vaccinations, administering regular parasite prevention, and providing them with a safe and secure outdoor environment. You may also want to consider transitioning your outdoor cat to a primarily indoor lifestyle to increase their chances of living a long and healthy life. 

How Long Do Indoor/Outdoor Cats Live? 

Cats that have access to both indoor and outdoor environments tend to have lifespans that are similar to indoor cats.(1) They are still at risk of being exposed to outdoor hazards, but they may also have opportunities for exercise, environmental enrichment (eg, hunting, marking, exploring), and socialization that can improve their overall health. 

Tips for Helping Your Cat Live a Long and Healthy Life 

No matter what the life expectancy of your cat is, there are some simple tips you can follow to help them have a better chance of living a long, healthy, and happy life:  

  • Provide your cat with a healthy and balanced diet that is appropriate for their age and activity level. 

  • Ensure your cat gets regular exercise, whether that's through playtime with toys or outdoor exploration.  

  • Keep your cat up-to-date on vaccinations and preventative care, such as flea and tick prevention. 

  • Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian to catch any health issues early. 

  • Spay female cats and neuter male cats. 

  • Give your cat a safe and secure indoor environment or outdoor enclosure. 

  • Monitor your cat's behavior and habits and address any changes or concerns with your veterinarian. 

One final tip is to consider pet insurance for your cat. Embrace cat insurance plans offer a range of coverage that can help make costly trips to the vet more affordable, which can make it easier to take your cat to the vet when they need it. 

a woman kissing a kitten with a long life span in front of it

Protect Your Cat's Health with Embrace Pet Insurance 

Now that we have answered the question "How long do cats live?", you may be looking at ways to help them beat the average lifespan of a cat. You want to give your furry friend the best possible care — Embrace Pet Insurance can help you do just that. With customizable coverage options and affordable rates, Embrace provides full-coverage pet insurance for accidents, illnesses, and conditions. Consider adding an optional pet wellness plan to your cat's health insurance plan. This will you budget for preventive care such as annual checkups, vaccinations, and dental cleanings, which can help your cat live a longer and healthier life.  

Don't let unexpected veterinary bills prevent your cat from living their best life.  Get a free quote from Embrace today so you can give your furry friend the care they need, when they need it, so they can stay healthy and happy for years to come.   


  1. MC Gates, HJ Hinds & A Dale (2017) Preliminary description of aging cats and dogs presented to a New Zealand first-opinion veterinary clinic at end-of-life, New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 65:6, 313-317, DOI: 10.1080/00480169.2017.1360161 

  2. Kent MS, Karchemskiy S, Culp WTN, Lejeune AT, Pesavento PA, Toedebusch C, Brady R, Rebhun R. Longevity and mortality in cats: A single institution necropsy study of 3108 cases (1989-2019). PLoS One. 2022 Dec 29;17(12):e0278199. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0278199. PMID: 36580443; PMCID: PMC9799304. 

  3. Teng KT, McGreevy PD, Toribio J-AL, Raubenheimer D, Kendall K, Dhand NK. Strong associations of nine-point body condition scoring with survival and lifespan in cats. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. 2018;20(12):1110-1118. doi:10.1177/1098612X17752198