Recently, a Maine Coon named Rubble died in Exeter, England. This was notable because the cat was 31, meaning that he was believed to be the oldest living cat at the time. As for the manner of Rubble’s passing, his owner Michele Heritage stated that he was a creature of habit, meaning that she and her husband knew that he had passed when he failed to return from his normal routine following a period of rapid deterioration.
How Long Can Cats Live?
Rubble wasn’t the longest-lived cat ever. Instead, that honor is still held by a cat named Creme Puff who lived from August 3 of 1967 to August 6 of 2005, meaning that she managed to make it to 38. However, it is no exaggeration to say that Rubble’s lifespan was extraordinary. The expectations for the lifespan of a cat can be unclear. After all, humans don’t maintain the same kind of records for cats that they do for humans, meaning that there is a much smaller amount of relevant information for interested individuals to work with. Still, that hasn’t prevented various parties from offering various figures on the topic, with an excellent example being Blue Cross’s statement that a domestic cat can live up to 20 years.
Speaking of which, the same statement mentions six life stages for the average domestic cat. First, there is the kitten stage that can last up to six months of age. Second, there is the junior stage that can last from six months to two years of age. Third, there is the prime stage that can last from three to six years of age. Fourth, there is the mature stage that can last from seven to 10 years of age. Fifth, there is the senior stage that can last from 11 to 14 years of age. Sixth, there is the geriatric stage that can start around 15 years of age. Based on these six life stages, it should be very clear that Rubble managed to outlive the average domestic cat by a huge amount of time.
What Factors Determine How Long a Cat Can Live?
Of course, it is important to note that there are numerous factors that can affect a cat’s lifespan. Some of these factors are controllable whereas others are not. Here are some examples:
- Breed – There can be a sizable gap between different cat breeds in this regard. For example, the Manx lives for just eight to 14 years on average. In contrast, the Burmese can live to 16 to 18 years on average. As a result, interested individuals are going to need to look up life expectancies that are specific to their cat breed. Besides this, it is interesting to note that there are some sources that claim that mixed breed cats tend to be longer-lived than their pure breed counterparts. Basically, mixed breed cats have a wider gene pool, which is useful because it reduces their chances for a wide range of medical conditions. Still, there is no guarantee that a specific mixed breed cat will live longer.
- Healthcare – Speaking of which, it should come as no surprise to learn that healthcare can play a very important role in a cat’s lifespan. Most of the time, regular healthcare should make for longer-lived cats. In part, this is because preventative healthcare will pick up on potential problems for correction sooner rather than latter, thus limiting the damage done by unchecked medical conditions. However, there are also plenty of medical conditions that cats just can’t recover from on their own, which is no different from how it is for humans.
- Indoor vs. Outdoor – Living environment can have a huge effect as well. In particular, it is worth mentioning that an indoor cat can be expected to live much longer than an outdoor cat, so much so that it is close to three times as long. This is unsurprising because indoor cats are exposed to a much, much smaller set of risks. For example, indoor cats are protected from wild animals, which is very important because cats are predators that can be predated upon. Likewise, indoor cats come into much less contact with potential pathogens, thus reducing their chances of catching the associated diseases. Of course, the outdoors can offer cats much when it comes to stimulation, meaning that cat owners need to make sure that their indoor cats are offered plenty of exercise as well as playtime to keep them in tiptop condition.
- Sterilization – Spaying and neutering can be helpful for lengthening a cat’s lifespan. First, sterilization prevents the cat from getting diseases that can affect their reproductive system. Second, it lowers their interest in wandering off, which can be very detrimental to their health if they are unlucky.
- Genetics – The role of genetics in longevity in humans is still very unclear. Never mind the role of genetics in longevity in cats. However, there are at least two very important ways that genetics can affect a cat’s lifespan. One, genetics can increase a cat’s chances of getting a wide range of medical conditions. For proof, look no further than the fact that it is common practice to talk about the medical conditions that certain cat breeds are and are not susceptible to. Two, it is interesting to note that there are genes that can boost a cat’s resistance to certain diseases as well as other medical conditions, meaning that these are beneficial rather than detrimental.
Summed up, if cat owners want their cats to live as long as possible, they should do their best to provide their feline companions to a protected environment with reliable access to food, water, shelter, and the other necessities of life. On top of that, cat owners need to make sure that their cats get plenty of both physical and mental stimulation, not least because obesity tends to bring about catastrophic consequences for a cat’s wellbeing in many ways. Besides that, choosing a longer-lived breed or mixed breed can be very helpful as well, though it is important to note that individual cats can diverge to a significant extent from the expectations of their breed, meaning that there is no guarantee that they will live up to expectations. Instead, the goal is to weigh the odds as much as possible.
Photo via South West News Service