The life expectancy of most cats is about 12 to 18 years of age, but thanks to advances in nutrition and veterinary practices, your cat could live into her 20s. This life expectancy, though, depends on a few factors. These include:
- Whether your cat is an indoor or outdoor pet. Outdoor cats are more likely to experience trauma such as a dog attack or car accident. They are also more susceptible to picking up a disease by coming into contact or fighting with another infected cat.
- Having a balanced, age-appropriate diet.
- Medical attention. Cats who regularly receive medical check-ups and have their vaccinations are more likely to live longer.
When a cat ages, her immune system becomes weaker, meaning she is less able to fight of disease. She becomes less able to groom herself effectively, which can lead to skin and coat problems. Her claws become thicker and more brittle, her skin loses its elasticity and hearing loss is common. You might notice your cat’s eyes become hazier with age or due to disease, and she might experience more dental issues, which hinder eating and cause pain. She will experience a decrease in her sense of smell (which could lead to a loss of appetite). Other disorders and diseases like kidney failure, arthritis, joint problems, hypertension, cancer and inflammatory bowel disease are also age-related issues. She might exhibit signs of senility, such as excessive meowing, wandering and avoidance of social interaction.
To give your cat the best chance to stay fighting fit for years to come, there are many things you can do:
- Be aware of behavioural or physical changes and take your cat to the vet if you notice any. Your vet can tell you what to look out for, but it’s things like a change in her eating, drinking, toileting or grooming habits, and new lumps or bumps, which are indications that something might be wrong.
- Keep up with her vaccinations and routine vet check-ups.
- Ensure your cat has regular exercise. If she is an indoor cat, get her out into the backyard regularly for a play.
- Regularly assess her diet to ensure it is balanced and watch her weight to ensure she isn’t over or underfed. Remember, as a cat ages, her nutritional needs change.
- Ensure you provide a safe, stress-free environment for your pet.