Monday, February 20, 2017

How long can a cat live (and what can you to do help)?

Very old tuxedo cat

Anyone who gets a cat likely wants that cat to live forever. Unfortunately, unless the scientists get cracking on some kind of solution that they've been keeping under wraps for years, that isn't likely to happen. Cats have fixed life spans, just like we do, and no cat can really live forever.

An average cat's lifespan is somewhere between 12 and 18. Some breeds have a history of living much longer, and there are record-holding cats that lived to 30 or more. But I think we can all agree that those are exceptional animals. Most reach the middle teens, and then they leave us.

Jasper the cat in his selfie

Consider Jasper here. This month, he's celebrating his 16th birthday. And he's showing some signs of breakdown. His heart murmur, which he's lived with since he was a tiny kitten, is growing more pronounced. His kidneys are showing signs of decay. He struggles to hop up on laps for kisses. He sleeps a lot.

As his caretakers, hubby and I do what we can to help. We make sure he sees the veterinarian for checkups. We give him quality food. We give him medications when they're prescribed.

But we know his doctor can't make Jasper young again. We know that there are limits to what can be done. So we love him and cuddle him and tell him he is loved. And we prepare for the losses we know are coming in the next few years.

Jasper the cat on his hot tub

While there isn't a lot we can do to keep Jasper with us, there's a lot cat people can to in order to ensure that their cats live to the end of the age spectrum. That includes:
  1. Feeding a high-quality food. Too many cats lose their lives to kidney disease, diabetes, obesity and other food-related issues. Purchasing the highest-quality food you can afford is a key way to help a cat live a long life. 
  2. Advocating for good medical care. Overvaccination of pets is a serious problem, as is undervaccination and neglect. Find a veterinarian partner you can trust and keep your appointments. In those appointments, ask questions and fight recommendations you don't agree with. Your pet needs you to be the voice. 
  3. Keeping kitty indoors. Jasper bucks the trend here, as he's never acclimated to indoor life. But most cats that live long lives do so while living indoors. Cats that live outdoors exclusively can face speeding cars, predation and fights. Life is better indoors. 
  4. Loving kitty. Cats are companion animals and they need their people. Spend time with your cat and remind your cat of your bond. It makes them happy, and it could help them to live longer.
 What do you do to help your cats live long lives? Drop me a note in the comments! Love to hear your ideas.