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How Long Do Tabby Cats Live? Vet-Approved Lifespan Facts

Vet approved

	Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Tabbies are one of the most popular cats in the world. However, some people don’t know that they are not a breed.

A cat is considered a tabby because of its unique coat pattern, whose appearance can vary slightly from stripes to spots to patches. Most tabby cats also have an “M” shaped marking on the head above the eyes.

If you have considered getting a tabby cat for its beautiful coat, you must have wondered how long they live. A well looked-after tabby cat can live as long as 18 years. Below, we tell you more about the average lifespan of a tabby cat and what you can do to ensure yours lives longer.

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What’s the Average Lifespan of a Tabby Cat?

The average lifespan of a tabby cat is 12 to 18 years. However, outdoor tabbies’ life expectancy is lower since they are exposed to many hazards outside. Cats that live outdoors usually have an average lifespan of 2 to 5 years.

Although some tabby cats don’t live long, others exceed expectations and live for over 18 years. Indeed, some cats that have lived the longest in the world have been tabbies.

tabby ragamuffin cat
Image Credit: Benjamin B, Shutterstock

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Why Do Some Tabby Cats Live Longer Than Others?

We all want our furry buddies to live as long as possible. However, factors like health issues, nutrition, and breeding play a role in determining a kitty’s lifespan.

Below, we examine how some of these factors can affect the lifespan of your tabby cat.

1. Healthcare

The overall health of your tabby cat may depend on their specific breed, but how well you take care of the kitty can determine how long they live

There are several things to consider. First, proper nutrition is essential. So, ensure you feed your cat a well-balanced complete diet and provide them with adequate clean water. Proper grooming is also needed.

Grooming increases the bond with you and lets you detect any injuries you would usually miss on the cat’s body.

Taking your tabby cat to the vet regularly is essential to increase their lifespan. It ensures your kitty is up to date on vaccinations and flea and worming treatments. Moreover, screening can detect illnesses early before they get out of hand.

a red long-haired tabby cat is being checked up by a vet
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock
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2. Nutrition

What, when, and how you feed your tabby cat will determine how healthy the kitty stays. And good health is synonymous with long life.

Being an obligate carnivore, your tabby cat requires a protein-rich diet with moderate levels of fat and low carbohydrates. It should also contain essential vitamins and minerals.

Generally, a diet with high-quality nutrients, whether fresh, dry or canned, is recommended. However, it would help to research your specific breed’s nutritional requirements to provide a tailor-made diet for your cat.

Measuring your tabby cat’s ration to avoid overfeeding is highly recommended. Overeating can lead to obesity-related illnesses like diabetes and joint problems.

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3. Environment & Conditions

As you might expect, indoor felines live longer than their outdoor counterparts because of the numerous hazards outdoors.

For instance, an outdoor cat could have run-ins with other animals and get killed or injured. They can also get exposed to pest problems and infectious diseases that could negatively impact their lifespan. Accidents are also common.

However, that does not mean indoor cats face no environmental risks. Your tabby cat can fatally injure themselves by falling from a height or swallowing a foreign body. They could also consume poisonous substances, such as house cleaners.

a tabby cat sitting on the windowsill
Image Credit: Xseon, Shutterstock
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4. Sex

Like humans, female cats tend to live longer than males. According to a study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, females live 15 years on average, while their male counterparts average 13 years.

The study also shows that neutering female and male cats increases their lifespan. The effect is more significant in males since intact males often put themselves in danger when roaming around looking for mates.

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5. Genes

Genes can play a role in determining your kitty’s lifespan. Since tabby cats exist in different breeds, they can be susceptible to breed-specific diseases that can pass down from the parents to their offspring. Some of these hereditary conditions can be fatal.

For instance, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a life-threatening heart disease that affects Maine Coon and Ragdoll cats. If your tabby cat develops the condition, they can also have heart failure, which can significantly reduce their lifespan.

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red tabby cat relaxing on book shelf
Image Credit: naskami, Shutterstock
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6. Breeding History

The same study cited above also compared the lifespan of purebreds and crossbreds. According to the data, crossbreds live for 14 years on average, while purebreds only average 12.5 years.

The most likely reason for a longer lifespan in crossbreds is the reduced risk of hereditary diseases due to genetic diversity.

Nevertheless, just because your tabby cat is purebred doesn’t mean they won’t live long. Some purebred cats are known for their long lifespans. Examples include Manx, Siamese, Oriental Shorthair, Russian Blue, and Bombay.

Getting a kitten from a reputable breeder can also determine how long your tabby lives. A trusted breeder will provide all the relevant information you need to learn about the cat’s breeding history, including the health of the parents and grandparents.

Knowing the state of the parents’ and grandparents’ health or cause of death is crucial, since some diseases are hereditary and could be passed down to your cat.

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The 4 Life Stages of a Tabby Cat

Tabby cats go through four major life stages. They include kitten, young adult, mature adult, and senior. We examine these life stages in detail below.

Kitten

Kittenhood is the stage between birth and one year old. The cat is usually delicate and sensitive at this age, and proper care is essential for survival.

Feeding the kitten a diet formulated for growth is essential. It is also advisable to neuter and vaccinate it to reduce the risk of life-threatening diseases.

bunch of tabby kittens
Image Credit: ChocoPie, Shutterstock

Young Adult

Young adult is the stage between 1 and 6 years old. Here, the cat usually becomes less playful and stops growing physically. That necessitates a switch to an adult or neutered cat food.

Keeping your feline up to date on vaccinations and preventative parasite medications is imperative.

Mature Adult

The mature adult stage is between the ages of 7 and 10. The cat usually starts slowing down at this stage. Play declines and they become less active.

Depending on their habits, a mature cat is more prone to certain diseases like obesity and arthritis. Kidney issues may start to appear at this age. Therefore, proper nutrition and regular check-ups are essential.

a senior tabby cat lying in the front yard
Image Credit: ROBERT ENRIQUEZ, Shutterstock

Senior

Senior is the last stage of your tabby cat’s life cycle, beginning from 11 years onward. The cat becomes even slower and susceptible to new illnesses at this phase.

It would help to switch to a senior diet or a diet recommended by your vet. At this age, more frequent visits to the vet (preferably every 6 months) are essential.

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How to Tell Your Tabby Cat’s Age

It can be hard to determine your cat’s age if you adopted them from a shelter or rescue center. But you can make a guess by observing specific indicators, such as the cat’s eyes and teeth.

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Conclusion

A tabby cat can live for 12 to 18 years, depending on the breed, healthcare, and their lifestyle. However, you can ensure your cat lives longer by taking good care of them. That means watching them for any signs of disease, feeding them a healthy, protein-rich diet, grooming them, and ensuring that they live in a safe, clean environment.

Health is also essential to long life. So, visit the vet regularly for check-ups and to remain up to date with vaccinations and preventative parasite treatment.

Lastly, don’t forget to neuter them. Studies have shown that neutering significantly increases the lifespan of a cat, more so for males.

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Featured Image Credit: Kichigin, Shutterstock

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