Older cat licking a kitten

Key takeaway

Indoor cats typically live longer than outdoor cats and have a life expectancy of about 10 to 15 years. However, that number may vary a bit if your cat spends a lot of time outside as well. There are several factors that determine how long your cat will live, including how often you take them to the vet for a checkup.

Everyone has a hard time saying goodbye to their pets, but knowing how long your cat should live and what stages you can expect them to go through can help you take better care of them. As your cat gets older, they may need special care that they didn’t need when they were young, including special cat vitamins and supplements.

So, how long do indoor cats live?

In this article, we’ll talk about the life expectancy of the average indoor cat and how it compares to that of an outdoor or indoor-outdoor cat. We’ll also discuss some of the factors that affect how long cats live. Keep reading to learn more about the average indoor cat lifespan and what you can do to keep your cat happy and healthy for as long as possible.

How Long Do Cats Live Indoors?

On average, indoor cats live to be about 10 to 15 years old, but can reach ages of up to 20 years old.1 Because indoor cats don’t have to deal with predators and some of the other potential risks that come with living outdoors, they tend to live a bit longer. Indoor cats also tend to have a more complete diet than outdoor cats, which can help them live a long life.

On average, indoor cats live between 10 and 15 years

Keep in mind that there are several factors that determine how long a cat is going to live. For example, cats who are overweight may not live as long, and the same goes for cats who aren’t eating a healthy diet. Injuries and diseases, such as FIP in cats, can also play a role in how long your cat lives.

If you want your cat to live a long, healthy life, you should be taking them to the vet on a regular basis and feeding them a healthy diet. When you notice any strange symptoms your cat is experiencing, calling your vet and getting them treatment early is important. Taking good care of your cat is the best way to make sure they live for a long time and have a good life.

How Long Do Outdoor Cats Live?

While indoor cats live for 10 to 15 years, outdoor cats don’t typically last quite as long. Aside from the higher risk of developing cat skin cancer due to increased exposure to the sun, outdoor cats also have to contend with ticks, fleas, and predators. Cats who live outdoors only will generally live to be about 2 to 5 years old,1 although that depends on several factors.

Predators are one of the biggest problems for outdoor cats. Cougars, coyotes, raccoons, and even birds of prey may come after outdoor cats. Even a small injury inflicted by one of these animals can be fatal if it gets infected.

Outdoor cats also tend to live shorter lives due to all the cars they have to deal with. It’s not uncommon for cats to get run over by cars, especially if they dart into the road without looking and a driver doesn’t see them.

How Long Do Indoor-Outdoor Cats Live

Cat licking a kitten’s ear

You might be wondering how long you can expect your cat to live if they spend time both indoors and outdoors. So, how long do indoor-outdoor cats live? This is a tougher question to answer because it depends on the area you live in, how much time your cat spends outside, and more.

If you’re in an area where there may be predators roaming around, letting your cat outside can be dangerous. The same goes for letting your cat roam the city streets that are filled with cars and other hazards. Untreated cat anxiety can make life even more difficult for indoor-outdoor cats because of all the people and noises outside.

Try to avoid letting your cat spend too much time outside. While it’s alright to let your cat out on occasion, there might be cause for concern if your cat is spending days at a time outside.

What Factors Affect How Long Indoor Cats Live?

From knowing where to pet a cat to feeding them the right diet, you have a lot of responsibilities as a pet parent. Here are some of the factors that may affect an indoor cat’s lifespan:

  • Diet: Cats need a balanced diet, including the right number of calories. If your cat is eating too much or not eating enough, they may develop food-related chronic diseases that can shorten their lifespan. A healthy diet also helps keep your cat energetic and happy.
  • Medical Care: Sometimes, cats need to see the vet. If you want your cat to live for as long as possible, you should be taking them in for checkups about once a year and visiting the vet when you notice cat panic attack symptoms or symptoms of other medical conditions.
  • Exercise: Getting plenty of exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight, which can extend the life of an indoor cat. Cats should get about 30 minutes of exercise each day.
  • Cognition: Dementia and other cognitive impairments can make life very difficult for your cat, so doing what you can to prevent these health conditions can extend your cat’s life.
  • Water: In addition to a healthy diet, cats also need enough water to stay hydrated and keep their bodies working properly.
  • Teeth: You should take your cat in for a dental cleaning at least once per year to prevent tooth resorption and other dental issues that can affect your cat’s quality of life.

What Are the Life Stages of a Cat?

As a pet parent, it’s important to understand what you can expect during the various stages of your cat’s life. Cats go through four different life stages that each come with very different challenges. Here are the four life stages of cats:2

  • Kitten: This stage lasts until a cat is about one year old. During this time, cats need extensive care that they won’t necessarily need later in life, including training, frequent grooming, and special kitten food, in some cases.
  • Young Adult: Between the ages of 1 and 6, your cat is a young adult. Cats may still show some kitten-like tendencies at this point, but they’re not kittens anymore. In fact, your cat should reach their full size during the young adult stage.
  • Mature Adult: When your cat is 7 to 10 years old, they’re a mature cat. Mature cats tend to be a lot more relaxed than young adults and kittens, so your mature cat may spend a lot of their time lying around the house.
  • Senior: Cats that are older than 10 are considered senior cats. These cats are typically a lot more relaxed, spending almost all of their time lounging around the house. If your senior cat starts to gain weight, you should talk to your vet about switching to a low-calorie diet.

How Old Are Cats in Human Years?

You may have heard people mention that “1 dog year is equal to 7 human years.” While it’s true that humans develop at a different rate than other animals, it’s not quite that simple. So, how long do indoor cats live and how old are they in human years?

When a cat is about 6 months old, its development is equivalent to that of a 10-year-old human. Once your cat is about 5 years old, they’re equivalent to a 36-year-old man. This is because cats become fully grown much quicker than humans do, and they live much shorter lives.3

Cat years in human years

Just because your cat is only a few years old doesn’t mean they’re not fully grown. It’s important to keep this physiological age in mind when caring for cats.

What Are Standard Life Changes a Cat Might Experience?

A lot of things can change for your cat as they get older, including their behavior, their appearance, and the function of their body. Here are some of the life changes a cat might experience as they age:

  • Behavioral changes: As your cat gets older, you might notice changes in behavior including increased meowing, changes in appetite, and a different sleep schedule. Your cat may also become a bit lazier as they get older and have a tougher time moving around.
  • Appearance: Just like dogs, cats tend to change quite a bit physically as they get old. Older cats may have cloudy eyes, matted hair, and yellow teeth. You may also notice that your cat’s weight fluctuates as their metabolism becomes worse with older age.
  • Function: It’s not uncommon for older cats to have difficulty walking, chewing, or doing many of the other things younger cats can easily do. If your cat is having problems with bodily functions, consider a trip to the vet.

The truth is that cats change a lot as they age. This is why taking care of your cat is particularly important as they start to get older.

Signs an Indoor Cat Has Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), also known as dementia, is a cognitive disorder that can shorten your cat’s lifespan and make life difficult for them. Watching out for DISHA signs that can’t be explained by a medical disease is an important part of diagnosing CDS. These DISHA signs include:4

Signs of cognitive dysfunction syndrome in cats

  • D-Disorientation
  • I-Interaction changes
  • S-Sleep/Wake cycle changes
  • H-Housesoiling
  • A-Activity level changes

Final Notes

There’s a lot to consider if you want your feline friends to live as long as possible. The better you care for your cat, including regular vet trips and feeding them a healthy diet, the longer you can expect them to live.

With telemedicine for pets, taking care of your cat is easier than ever. All you have to do is use Dutch to connect with a vet in your area, then schedule a video chat. Your vet can offer expert advice, and Dutch can even work with pharmacies to deliver medication to your door. Try Dutch today and make pet care simple.

References

  1. Craft, Tyler, Greenspan. Sheryl, & Klein, Amanda. Cats: Indoors or Outdoors? UC Davis Veterinary Medicine. https://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/sites/g/files/dgvnsk491/files/inline-files/Cats-Indoors_or_Outdoors.pdf 

  2. Feline Life Stage Definitions. American Animal Hospital Association. https://www.aaha.org/aaha-guidelines/life-stage-feline-2021/feline-life-stage-definitions/ 

  3. My Pet’s Physiological Age. American Animal Hospital Association. https://www.aaha.org/globalassets/02-guidelines/canine-life-stage-2019/canine_and_feline_age_chart_poster.pdf 

  4. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. https://indoorpet.osu.edu/dogs/aging_pets/cds