The life expectancy of your cat depends on multiple inherited and environmental factors. Environmental factors include nutrition, lifestyle, and quality of care (vaccination, sanitary upbringing, and medical care).
Genetic factors include your pet’s breed and congenital health conditions.
Average lifespan of cats
Different sources quote different average lifespans for cats. However, most estimates fall within 13 to 15 or 17 years. But cats may live up to 20 years.
Some breeds live longer than others
Some breeds tend to live longer than others.
Long-lived breeds include the Siamese, Burmese, and Savannah cats. Maine Coons reportedly have an average lifespan of 10-13 years.
Some sources claim that breeds, such as Sphinx, Manx, Singapura, and Munchkin, have shorter lifespans.
Lifestyle factors that affect lifespan
The main elements of lifestyle influencing your pet’s lifespan include living conditions and exercise.
Living conditions: These relate to factors that influence the degree of exposure to the elements, protection from predators, and overall sanitation.
Cats that live indoors under intensive management and supervision tend to live longer than those free ranged.
Free-ranging in this context means that the cat roams freely for most of the day or night outside the owner’s property in the neighborhood or streets without supervision. Free-ranged cats may become stray or feral.
Free-ranging is different from free-running.
Free-running usually occurs when a cat has access to well-managed outdoor space or extensive space (yard) within the owner’s property.
Generally, cats allowed unfettered or unsupervised access to the outdoors, especially in urban environments, tend to have shorter lifespans than those raised indoors.
The shorter lifespan of outdoor pets is due to greater exposure to the elements, increased risk of external and internal parasite infestation, bacterial and viral infections, attack by predators (or hostile dogs), or being run over by automobiles or subject to other accidents.
Exercise: Although indoor cats tend to live longer than outdoor ones, pet owners need to strike a prudent balance to avoid excessive confinement because it may increase the risk of being overweight or obese, another factor that affects cat longevity.
Take your cat on supervised walks to reduce the risk of obesity and improve their physical fitness.
Nutrition and longevity
Good nutrition promotes longevity.
Cats are carnivores. They need diets that resemble the flesh-based diet they would get in the wild.
Your pet’s digestive system is not well-adapted to plant-based diets with high-carb and high-fiber content.
A high-carb diet predisposes your cat to obesity and high blood sugar levels. Being overweight and having high blood sugar levels are associated with lifespan-shortening conditions such as arthritis and obesity.
Excessive fiber increases the risk of digestive issues such as bloating, excessive farting, and indigestion.
Cats require diets with higher levels of animal protein and low levels of plant material and carbs.
Animal protein supplies the optimal balance of essential amino acids, including taurine and arginine. An ideal diet supplies enough vitamins, such as Vitamin A (retinol), Vitamin D, and B-complex vitamins, especially niacin (B3).
A balanced diet also supplies enough essential fatty acids, prebiotics for gut health, and antioxidants. Cats also need diets with high water content.
Avoid overfeeding to prevent overweight or obesity.
You may learn more about your pet’s nutritional requirements here.
Quality of medical care
Medical care falls under the broad categories of preventive and curative care.
The main elements of preventive care include sanitary conditions, regular checkups, and vaccination.
Curative care focuses on getting prompt medical attention when your pet shows signs or symptoms of illness.
Fully vaccinated cats tend to live longer than unvaccinated ones because they are less exposed to the risk of deadly diseases. Vaccination has to be timely.
Ensure your pet gets rabies, feline distemper(Panleukopenia), and Calicivirus vaccinations.