Why Do Cats Live Longer Than Dogs?

29 February, 2020
As a general rule, cats live longer than dogs. However, a cat's lifespan depends on a number of different factors.

Dogs and cats are the two most popular pets in the world. Some people are cat-lovers, others are dog-lovers, and some get on perfectly well with both. Cats and dogs have their similarities, as well as their differences. For example, have you ever wondered how long each of them lives? Do cats live longer than dogs?

How long do cats live?

Providing it’s healthy and gets all the care it needs, a common domestic cat can live 12 to 15 years on average. Stray cats usually have a shorter lifespan than those with homes. Of course, this number depends on a variety of different factors, and not all breeds have the same life expectancy.

As with dogs, artificial selection has given some breeds a genetic predisposition to certain diseases. In other words, a cat of one particular breed is more likely to develop a disease than another, because of its genes.

For example, Persian cats are prone to developing chronic rhinitis and eye problems, due to the shape of their face. They’re also more likely to suffer from polycystic kidney disease. That said, they’re generally a fairly long-living breed, and can live up to 17 or 18 years.

A Persian cat.

Several other factors can directly influence how long a cat will live:

  • Genetics: If the cat’s parents suffered from some kind of disease, it may have an impact on its life expectancy
  • Size: Like dogs, smaller cats tend to live longer than large ones
  • Gender
  • Diet
  • Physical activity: Obesity can cause a number of different diseases, such as diabetes
  • Stress: Stress can have a number of harmful effects on an animal’s health. In some cases, it may even affect the immune system, which acts as the main line of defense against infections.

How to increase your cat’s lifespan

How long your cat will live will depend – at least in part – on the care it receives. To be happy and healthy, a cat needs:

  • Good nutrition: Investing in a high-quality cat food is a direct investment in your pet’s health. Over the years, it may save you many additional trips to the vet. Low-end pet foods such as those sold in supermarkets can cause oral, digestive, and kidney problems in the long run, as well as a dull, unhealthy coat.
  • Regular visits to the vet for health check-ups will allow you to detect any problems early on. In kittens, the first vaccines against panleukopenia or feline leukemia are vital. For older cats, annual blood tests are highly recommended.
  • Environmental enrichment: Enrichment is very important for animals in captivity. It can help reduce stress levels which, as we’ve already mentioned, can have a negative impact on your pet’s health. Scratching posts, toys, windows, climbing trees, and hiding places are perfect for enriching a cat’s environment.
  • Attention: While cats are largely branded as independent creatures, they still need great care and attention from their owners, whether that be in the form of play or cuddles. Some cats may also benefit from living with other animals. However, not all cats get along well with others, and the introductory process must be done gradually.
Cats need love and attention from their owners.

Why do cats live longer than dogs?

As a general rule, the average life expectancy in cats is longer than in dogs. However, as we’ve already seen, the number of years an animal lives depends on so many different factors, with genetics being one of the most important.

There have been cases of cats that have lived for more than 25 years. One example was Creme Puff, the oldest cat on record, who died in 2005 at the age of 38. Another cat, Nutmeg, lived to the age of 32.

  • ATEUVES. Algunas patologías del gato persa.
  • Why we outlive our pets David Grimm. Science 4 December 2015: Vol. 350 no. 6265 pp. 1182-1185.