Cats may not have nine lives, but they can live long and healthy lives if you care for them properly.
The average domestic cat lives between 12 and 18 years. However, cats can live up to 20 years + under the right conditions. You can increase your cat’s lifespan by paying particular attention to their food, health, and living space and by getting them neutered or spayed.
In addition to the general advice, I have some age-specific advice for you. These tips will help lengthen your cat’s life span during different stages of their lives.
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4 Ways To Lengthen Your Cat’s Life Span
Here are four ways to lengthen your cat’s lifespan:
- Schedule yearly wellness examinations with a vet
- Avoid smoking around your pet
- Remove plants that are poisonous for cats from your house and outside area
- Make sure high surfaces like closets are stable
1. Schedule Yearly Wellness Examinations With a Vet
You’ll take your pet to the vet for vaccinations and checkups across different life stages. Know that you should schedule regular in-depth checkups in addition to those visits.
The average adult cat should have annual wellness exams, while senior and geriatric cats should have semi-annual checkups.
A typical wellness checkup includes a few questions, a physical examination of your cat, and recommendations based on your vet’s analysis.
Your vet will ask questions about your cat’s diet, exercise, litter box habits, energy levels, grooming patterns, playfulness, mood changes (if any), and general behavior. Prepare yourself with essential information like the type and brand of food your cat eats, whether you give them any supplements, if you’ve noticed any changes in mood, etc.
The physical exam includes checking your cat’s temperature, heart rate, weight, skin, eyes, ears, and teeth. They’re on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary.
Once the vet has collected all this information, they will discuss your cat’s circumstances and decide if any lifestyle recommendations would be appropriate. They may advise switching food brands or give you the all-clear and send you your way.
2. Avoid Smoking Around Your Pet
Passive smoking affects cats the same way it affects people. Animals living in smoking households are at a greater risk of developing lung cancer, lymphoma, and tumors than those who live in smoke-free homes.
Cats groom themselves by licking their fur. This means they’re likely to ingest any toxic smoke particles that land on their coats, putting them at further risk.
If you are a smoker and want to protect your cat from passive smoking, avoid smoking in the house. The more time a cat spends in a home with tobacco-filled air, the more likely it is to develop the various cancers mentioned before.
3. Remove Plants That Are Poisonous for Cats from Your House
A few types of plants and flowers are pretty dangerous for your cat. In the best case, chewing on them will cause stomach problems. In the worst case, ingesting them will be fatal for your pet.
So if you want to lengthen your cat’s life span, ensure you don’t have these plants in or around your house.
Here are the most common plants that are toxic for cats to consume:
|Hyacinths||Azaleas and Rhododendrons||Peace Lily|
|Sago Palm||Castor Bean||Pothos, Devil’s Ivy|
|Oleander||Autumn Crocus||Spanish Thyme|
|Lily of the Valley||Spring bulbs||Chrysanthemum|
4. Make Sure High Surfaces Like Closets Are Stable
Cats adore being on elevated surfaces like closets. You can’t stop them from going there, but you can ensure that these structures are stable and won’t tip over while your pet is on them.
Avoid stacking cardboard boxes or chairs because your cat may jump on top, bringing the entire structure down. Consider cat-proofing a necessary step of being a cat parent.
While cats always land on their feet, falling from a high place can hurt their paws. An unstable structure may land on them even if they don’t hurt themselves when jumping.
Age-Specific Tips To Lengthen Your Cat’s Lifespan
Several health-related tips can help you increase your cat’s life span. This includes minor things like monitoring your pet’s diet and getting them neutered.
Here’s a breakdown of every cat’s six life stages and the health-related steps you should take during them.
Kitten (Birth to 6 months)
During the first six months of your cat’s life, you need to:
- Get an initial checkup
- Set up a vaccination schedule
- Get your cat neutered or spayed
- Start your pet on a healthy diet
1. Initial Checkup
Cats are sometimes born with illnesses that can stop them from living long and healthy lives, like hernias or cleft palates. You can prevent these illnesses from becoming severe problems through early intervention.
2. Set up a vaccination schedule
Vaccinating your cat can protect it against specific infectious diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. They prevent early death and keep your pet safe from these diseases throughout their lives.
During these first six months, you should look into the following vaccines:
Ask your vet for specific details regarding when you should get each vaccine and if your pet should have any additional optional ones.
1. Get your cat neutered or spayed
Neutered cats live longer than non-neutered ones because neutering prevents reproductive illnesses and roaming. The best time to neuter or spay a cat is when they’re around 5 to 6 months old.
Why is spaying and neutering good for your pet?
Spaying a female cat reduces her risk of developing mammary and breast cancer and eliminates the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer. Neutering a male cat removes the risk of developing testicular cancer.
‘Roaming’ is when domestic cats leave the house searching for a partner to mate with. This can be dangerous since domestic cats often don’t have the best road sense. There’s usually a lot of traffic, stray dogs, and unpleasant people outside.
Hundreds of cats die due to traffic accidents every year. Spayed and neutered cats are less likely to leave the house or local area since they have fewer hormonal urges.
Moreover, cats who undergo regular heat cycles are more prone to parasitic and bacterial infections. Once you spay them, they don’t have these cycles.
2. Start your pet on a healthy diet
Setting up your cat on a healthy diet and lifestyle from the moment they’re weaned ensures they become healthy mature cats. Some felines highly appreciate routine, and getting them off an unhealthy diet can be challenging once they’re on it.
Avoid sticking them in unhealthy patterns by starting with healthy, nutritious food and an active lifestyle.
Junior Kitten (7 months to 2 years)
During the next year and a half, there are two main things you should be focussing on:
- Keep the vaccinations up to date
- Monitor diet and weight gain
1. Keep the vaccinations up to date
Cats are pretty playful and sometimes get hurt while fighting or hunting. This is especially common if you let them leave the house or if they have a sibling to play with. So it is vital to ensure their vaccinations are current so they do not fall prey to infections.
2. Monitor diet and weight gain
Spaying and neutering can occasionally cause unhealthy weight gain. So you should monitor your cat during the months immediately after their procedure to make sure they aren’t gaining too much weight.
Also, pay close attention to your cat’s diet. Felines are prone to weight gain and fussy eating habits during this stage. Make sure they’re eating and exercising enough.
Adult or Prime Cat (3 to 6 years)
At 3 to 6 years, close and continued attention to the following is essential:
- Dental and gum health
Many domestic cats allowed to go outdoors are still active hunters, so continued attention to vaccinations is super important.
At this point, you’ll only need vaccinations yearly or every other year. Most vet practices send reminders for annual checkups.
2. Dental and gum health
Some cats can develop dental or gum disease, which usually flares up during this period. Ask your vet for advice on cleaning your pet’s teeth.
Mature Cat (7 to 10 years)
7 to 10-year-old cats have the same needs as those in their mid-forties. The main thing you need to do is monitor their food consumption and ensure they get enough exercise.
Your pet may or may not start to slow down at this age, depending on their life before this point. So there’s a chance their appetite may change. If that happens, it’s essential to ensure they’re eating enough.
If cats stop eating, they become weak and deficient in essential nutrients their bodies need to function correctly.
Senior Cat (11 to 14 years)
You can lengthen your cat’s lifespan by providing mental stimulation and keeping them active. Senior cats start to slow down and can become lazy.
Use food puzzles or toys like yarn balls to encourage them to move around.
Make sure your pet isn’t becoming overweight!
Super Senior or Geriatric Cat (15+ years)
Super senior cats spend most of their day sleeping. They’ve lived for a long time and tend to be slightly tired by this point. That isn’t a problem by itself, but it does mean that you have to monitor them extra closely for any changes in their behavior.
During this stage of their life, you should book an appointment with your vet if you notice anything unusual regarding eating habits, energy levels, frequency of grooming, etc. Preventive measures are so much better than reactionary ones.
Final Thoughts on Maximizing Your Cats Lifespan
Cats can’t live forever. Unfortunately, they have a significantly shorter life expectancy than humans. However, you can take certain steps to make your pet’s time with you the best and longest it can be.
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