How Old Is My Cat in Human Years? How Long Do Cats Live?

cat and kittenCats don’t actually age 7 years for every human year, as many people believe. Instead, they age rapidly during the first year, after which the process slows significantly.

How Old Is My Cat in Human Years?

The number of cat years equal to a single human year can only be estimated, though experts have a pretty good idea of the progression based on the ways in which cats mature over their lifespan. Tracie Hotchner, in The Cat Bible (2007), offers a breakdown of human and cat years for the first year of life:

    • 1-month-old kitten = 6-month-old human baby
    • 3-month-old kitten = 4-year-old child
    • 6-month-old kitten = 10 human years old*
    • 8-month-old kitten = 15-year-old human
    • A 1-year-old cat has reached young adulthood, the equivalent of 18 human years**

*Some experts estimate 6 months for a cat as 12 or 15 human years, given that many cats are capable of producing kittens at this age (some cats can reproduce as early as 5 months). Veterinarian Arnold Plotnick (CatChannel.com) equates 6 months with 15 years, and 1 year with 24 years, and this may be more accurate given cats’ ability to become pregnant or sire kittens at 5 or 6 months of age.

**A few slow-maturing cat breeds (such as the Maine Coon) take several years to reach their full size, though they are capable of producing kittens long before full physical maturity is reached.

According to Hotchner, after the first year, approximate age equivalents are as follows:

    • 2 = 24
    • 4 = 35
    • 6 = 42
    • 8 = 50
    • 10 = 60
    • 12 = 70
    • 14 = 80
    • 16 = 84

Plotnick provides a similar conversion. Although he considers cats to be a little older at 1 year, he believes that the aging process slows to approximately 4 years for each single human year:

    • 1 = 24
    • 2 = 28
    • 3 = 32
    • 4 = 36
    • 5 = 40
    • 6 = 44
    • 7 = 48
    • 8 = 52
    • 9 = 56
    • 10 = 60
    • 11 = 64
    • 12 = 68
    • 13 = 72
    • 14 = 76
    • 15 = 80
    • 16 = 84
    • 17 = 88
    • 18 = 92
    • 19 = 96
    • 20 = 100

How Long Do Cats Live?

cat and kitten2
A 21-Year-Old Cat Shares Her Bed with a 3-Month-Old Kitten

According to estimates provided by various Humane Societies and RSPCAs, unless they suffer accidents or illnesses, most cats will live between 12 and 20 years. Many indoor cats reach their late teens or even early twenties, whereas outdoor cats are more likely to die before 15 years of age.

The longest-lived cat breeds include the Siamese and the Manx, many of which have lifespans of more than 20 years.

Cat longevity can be increased by:

    • Keeping cats indoors
    • Providing a high-quality, high-protein diet
    • Providing regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations

The Oldest Living Cats

As of 2018, The Oldest Living Cat title (Guinness Book of World Records) is held by Nutmeg, a UK tabby who was 31 years of age in 2016. Nutmeg inherited the title from Scooter, a 30-year-old Siamese from Texas who died that same year.

World record holders that have lived beyond 30 years have included a variety of breeds. Creme Puff, who made it to 38 years of age, was the oldest verified cat, though there are unconfirmed reports of even older cats.

Although there is no official record of her birth, many people assert that they can recall seeing Lucy around the fish and chip shop of her prior owner, Maria Lewis, in the early 1970s. When Maria died, the cat went to her goddaughter’s family where she has lived ever since. Bill Thomas, Lucy’s current owner, says that she was born in 1972, making her 39 years old in 2011. Lucy, a gray tabby, is deaf but otherwise in good health and still independent. Thomas says that she is great with the grandkids (The Daily Mail, 5 January 2011).

For more cat articles, see the main Cats page.

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