All cat lovers know how quickly a cat can become more than just a pet: They become an important part of our family, and we want them to stay with us for as long as possible. Most indoor domestic cats can live up to 15 years on average, but some cat breeds can live longer than this. For these breeds, it seems that the customary 9 lives are not necessary — some world-record-holding cats have lived more than 30 years!
While it is impossible to truly predict how long a cat will live, due to environmental factors like injury or disease, some cats are genetically predisposed to living beyond 20 years if they are healthy and disease-free. Quality nutrition, exercise, and regular check-ups with your vet are all great ways to help your feline live a long and healthy life.
If you are looking for a cat breed that is sure to live a long life, we put together this list of the 14 longest living cat breeds to help you find a long-lived companion.
What makes some cats live longer?
Various factors make some cats live longer than others, including diet, genetics, disease, and exercise. However, some of the biggest contributors may be outdoor vs. indoor living and pedigree vs. crossbreed. According to a study conducted by the Royal Veterinary College, which looked at over 4,000 randomly selected deceased cats, purebred cats live shorter on average than crossbred cats, with an average lifespan of 14 years. The most common cause of death was trauma occurring from road accidents, fights with other animals, poison, and parasites, showing that indoor cats will generally live longer lives. Of course, these kinds of retrospective studies have glaring limitations, as the accuracy of causes of death cannot be independently verified.
Genetics is another massive factor, and almost all animals experience biological aging. As animals grow older, they experience a gradual decline of biological functions, and until now, it has been difficult to determine how many years a specific animal can live. A recent study published in Scientific Reports looked at how DNA changes as an animal ages and found that it varies widely between species. While this has yet to be studied specifically in cats, this new mechanism of DNA analysis may help us understand the deeper reasons behind the longevity of certain breeds of cats.
1. American Shorthair
The American Shorthair is the pedigree version of the domestic shorthair, and one of the most popular and commonly found cats in the U.S. They owe their popularity to their playful, calm, and easygoing temperament that makes them an ideal choice for families. While these cats typically live for up to 20 years, a black Domestic Shorthair named “Baby” lived for an astonishing 38 years, just shy of the Guinness World Record.
The Balinese is similar in appearance to the Siamese, and many speculate that the origins of this breed came from a longhaired Siamese, as the only major difference between the breeds is coat length. These beautiful blue-eyed felines are often described as friendly, affectionate, and “chatty” and can typically live for up to 22 years. They are often cited as being hypoallergenic, but further studies need to be done to prove this.
The Bombay cat is a shorthaired breed that was developed by breeding sable Burmese and black American Shorthaired breeds. The result is a sleek, panther-like feline often referred to as the “mini-panther” or “Black Mamba.” They are social cats that love to interact with people and are intelligent, affectionate, and playful animals. They are a rare breed that can be difficult to find and typically live for around 20 years.
The average lifespan of a Burmese is 18-25 years, but one Burmese from Australia lived for 27 years! These cats are ideal family pets because they love people and are great with children. They have distinctive round, golden eyes and compact, muscular bodies and are generally a medium-sized breed. Despite their long-life expectancy, these cats are predisposed to genetic issues, including glaucoma.
5. Egyptian Mau
The characteristically wild-looking and spotted Egyptian Mau is one of only a few naturally spotted domestic cat breeds, and the spots occur only on the very tips of their coats. They are also one of the fastest domestic breeds, capable of speeds up to 30 mph. These cats are rare and difficult to find and have a life expectancy of 15-18 years.
6. Maine Coon
The largest of all domestic cat breeds, the Maine Coon can reach 18-20 pounds in weight and up to 38 inches in length. They are solid and muscular cats and are slow to physically mature, only reaching their full size at 3-5 years old. They are well known as gentle giants, though, and are generally loving and affectionate with their families, albeit wary and cautious around strangers. Maine Coons often reach the age of 17-18 years and beyond.
The Manx’s most unique characteristic is that that they are usually tailless, due to a naturally occurring mutation that shortens the tail. The breed originated on the Isle of Man, and while some are born with no tail at all, others have short stumpy tails and regular tails. They are prized hunters that are often employed by farmers to kill rodents, and they have historically been a favorite breed to have on ships. These cats have a lifespan of 15-18 years.
8. Oriental Shorthair
The Oriental Shorthair has one of the most diverse coats of all cat breeds and can come in over 300 color and pattern variations. They are also one of the world’s most intelligent breeds, love human interaction and playing, and are naturally curious and inquisitive cats. While no cats are 100% hypoallergenic, Oriental Shorthairs are reported to trigger little or no allergic reactions in people with cat allergies. They can live to be well over 15 years old.
The unmistakably fluffy Persian is a friendly, affectionate, and family-friendly breed. They have a characteristically round face and short muzzle with silky long coats and short legs. These cats are known for their bursts of kitten-like behavior but are generally placid cats that love to be curled up on their owner’s lap. They are one of the most popular pedigree cats in the U.S., and according to the Cat Fanciers Association, they were the fourth most registered breed in 2019. Persians have a typical lifespan of 15-20 years.
A relatively new breed, only dating back to the early 1960s, the Ragdoll is similar to a Persian with a long silky coat and laidback, easy-going nature. They get their name from this mellow disposition and will go limp like a ragdoll when picked up. These cats are large and fairly muscular cats with a beautiful color-point coat. They are friendly and social felines that are great family pets and can live up to 25 years.
11. Russian Blue
The quiet and reserved Russian Blue is an elegant and striking breed with long legs and slender, athletic bodies. Their coats are short and dense and can vary from light silver to dark slate grey. These cats are tranquil and easy-going with an inquisitive and curious nature. Although they are somewhat reserved, they are known for their friendly nature and affection toward their families. Russian Blues can live for 15-20 years if cared for properly.
12. Savannah Cat
The Savannah cat was bred from African Servals and domestic cats and are not for inexperienced owners because they are not fully domesticated. Although they are generally friendly and easy-going felines, they can be unpredictable at times and are highly active and energetic. They are known for their loyalty, though, and will often follow their owners around the house like a dog, and in fact, they can easily be trained to walk on a leash and play fetch. They can live for 15-20 years if well looked after.
The beautiful Siamese originally hails from Thailand and is one of the first distinctively recognized breeds of a domestic cat. They are known for their striking blue eyes, large wide ears, and short, fine coat with pointed coloration. Siamese cats are renowned for their social nature and friendliness toward people, and they will often bond strongly with a single family member. These cats typically live for 15-20 years.
Known for their lack of fur due to a naturally occurring genetic mutation, the Sphynx cat is popular with owners who suffer from allergies. These cats are highly sociable and almost dog-like in temperament — they crave human attention and will often follow owners around the home and greet them when they get home. Despite having several genetic health issues, plus the high-maintenance trait of their hairless skin, these cats still often live for 15-20 years.
- Thought this was interesting? Check out our post on the breeds with the shortest lifespans here!
Featured Image: Rob Rye, Shutterstock