Age is Not a Disease

How old is old?  So often we have clients in and they say their cat is ‘old’ but occasionally their idea of old and ours is quite different!

The current average lifespan for an indoor domestic cat is 15 years of age, though outdoor cats, in general, have a shorter lifespan due to the increased risks.  The oldest living cat on record was Crème Puff who lived to be 38 years old though the current record holder is a baby at the age of 27.

Of course, as our cats live longer and longer lives we do start to see diseases arise.  Cats age and should undergo routine blood testing to check for diseases such as kidney insufficiency, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes.  It is also important to check their blood pressure as mature cats can suffer from hypertension the same as in people. Most of these diseases if caught early and managed properly will have minimal impact on their overall quality and length of life.  With well managed disease we are usually confident putting them through a procedure such as dental cleanings using a plan tailored to their individual needs.

Clients often think that their cat is sleeping more just because they are old, often we will find that they are actually suffering from too much weight or arthritis and when we address these issues they start to act like a younger cat again.  As our cat’s age, they can start to have trouble with their vision and hearing which can change how they interact with us. Though cats can also suffer from cognitive dysfunction which is similar to dementia in people.  An exam and a discussion with one of our veterinarians will help us and you understand how your feline is aging and what we can do to keep them young for a longer period of time.

So how do cats age?  The old standby of one cat year is equal to 7 people years is not fully reflective of how quickly they age in the beginning of their life.  We now think their first two years are equal to 25 human years and every ‘cat’ year after works out to 4 people years.  That means a 6-year-old cat is around the same age as a 40-year-old person!  Because of this, we classify cats into a number of categories:  Kittens as age 0-6 months, Junior from 7 months to 2 years, Prime from 3 to 6 years, Mature from 7-10, Senior from 11-14 and Geriatric after that.  The breed of your cat will affect expected lifespan; Siamese, Manx and Russian Blue cats are all expected to live between 15 and 20 years of age.  Interestingly the World Record Holders have all been regular domestic cats and not purebreds.

Here at Killarney Cat Hospital we see many patients who are 15 plus and many of them look great and you would not know their age without looking at their records.  Some of them do have a concurrent disease that is managed while others are able to rely on good nutrition and regular checkups to keep them running in top form.  We are often asked about how long cats live and when do we start to consider them old and most owners are surprised that our answer is that we don’t consider them ‘old’ until 16+!  Next time you think your cat is ‘old’ give us a call to discuss, you might be surprised how healthy and young we find them to be.

Fun Fact

The oldest living pets owned by Killarney Cat Hospital Staff members are:

  • Abinormal and Maggie – Domestic Shorthairs – Spayed Females – 16
  • Lefty – Domestic Shorthair – Neutered Male – 17
  • Sneaker – Domestic Shorthair – Neutered Male – 18!

Written by Killarney Cat Hospital