The question of how long do cats live is similar to with any animal species; it depends on the individual animal and the health problems they encounter. The average cat lifespan is 12-15 years though the record for a cat was 38 years and 3 days and it is not uncommon for them reach the age of 21.
The other thing to remember is what this means comparative to humans years as cat years’ work a bit like dog years. So for example, a cat aged one year is equivalent to a 20-year-old human and a cat at the age of seven is the equivalent to a human aged 44.
Surprisingly the domestic cat has a longer lifespan than some of the larger cats, even when in captivity. The Tiger, for example, has an average lifespan of 8-10 years in the wild or 15-20 years in captivity. The Lion is 10-16 years, extended to 20-25 years in captivity while the jaguar is 12-15 years in the wild and up to 23 years in captivity. Smaller cats such as the Bobcat is only 6-8 years in the wild but up to 25 years when living in captivity.
Cats and old age
Cats are very good at hiding illnesses, injuries and the signs that they are getting older. Once they reach the age of 10, they are regarded as an older age cat and the most common problem to occur in older cats is arthritis. One of the main tells for this condition is that they are disinclined to jump up to high spots and as the condition gets worse, so does their mobility. Even jumping in and out of the cat litter box can become a challenge.
Cats also suffer with a declining amount of sleep, as they get older much as some humans do. They can also become less interactive with humans and may not be so keen to be stroked or brushed. These can all be signs in an older cat that he or she is feeling her age.
There can also be mental changes in cats as they get older. Crying in the middle of the night for no reason can be one symptom as well not using their cat litter box or forgetting where it is. Acting confused or not relating to a family member in their normal way could be a sign that their brain isn’t working as well as before. But they can also be a sign of an illness such as kidney disease or dental disease, so never simply assume.
Feeding a senior cat
As your cat gets older, they also have changing needs from their food. Another problem can be obesity as they eat a calorie rich diet but as they become less mobile, they cannot work it off as they have previously. Many ranges of cat food have food that are suitable for over 7 year old cats and wet food is good because it gives them the hydration that they may otherwise not be getting. Also, as their teeth become weakened through age, they may find dry food harder to chew. So watch their habits and be ready to adapt as needed to keep them fit and health in their senior years.