As cats age, their coat may lose some of its luster but their color often remains much as it was in their younger days. It can be deceptive to judge a cat's age by its color.
There was sad news in the cat world this week – Poppy died. Poppy was a 24-year-old tortoiseshell cat in England. Just two months ago Guinness World Records declared her to be the oldest living cat. (The oldest cat ever on record was a Texas feline named Crème Puff who lived to be 38 years old! She passed away in 2005.)
The average life span for a cat that lives indoors is twelve-to-seventeen years, and it’s not uncommon to see cats that are older than that. We had a Tuxedo cat named Blackie that we inherited from a friend when the cat was seventeen years old. We were amazed that he lived another three and a half years, and was over twenty when he died.
So what’s the secret to a long life for our feline friends?
The most important factor is the care the pet receives throughout its life. Cats that live outdoors have a significantly shorter life expectancy, as low as five-to-six years due to accidents, exposure to diseases and parasites, and encounters with other animals.
Indoor cats have their own problems, such as inactivity which can lead to obesity – which can shorten a pet’s life. So, a healthy diet, fresh water, and lots play time can help your cat live longer, healthier and happier.
Regular veterinary checkups and vaccinations also can help your pet stay healthy. Don’t overlook good dental care – your vet can recommend a cleaning schedule to keep your cat’s teeth in good shape. As your pet ages, you want to be particularly attentive to any changes in activity or behavior which might signal a problem that needs to be treated. And have your cat spayed or neutered as early as possible, which could increase its life expectancy by forty to sixty percent.
So now you know the secret to maximizing your cat’s lifespan – keep it indoors, healthy diet, exercise, proper care including regular veterinary attention, and spaying or neutering.
June is Adopt-a-Cat Month, the perfect time to visit your local animal shelter and take home a new feline friend to keep you company for a nice long time, when you’re speaking of pets.