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While the average lifespan of a cat is about 15 years, the age that cats live to varies widely. An intact feral tomcat may live only three years in a tough environment, while it’s not uncommon for pampered house cats to live into their twenties. The oldest verified cat died at the venerable age of 39. There are several factors that combine to determine how long your cat will live:
• CARE: Cats that are well cared for will usually live longer than those that are not. Quality of food, amount of exercise, good medical care including vaccinations against common and deadly infectious diseases, and healthy living conditions all contribute to a cat’s longevity. Cats that are free ranging are at high risk to accidents, particularly being hit by cars, and have a much lower life expectancy than cats that are kept at home.
• GENDER: Male cats tend to not live as long as females.
• NEUTERING: Neutered cats usually live longer than intact cats. Neutering greatly reduces the risk of cancers of the sex organs. Neutered cats, especially neutered males, tend to stay closer to home, and so have a reduced exposure to infectious diseases, and less risk of accidents.
• INDIVIDUALITY: Just as some people are born with a strong constitution, so are some cats. As a result, the lifespan of individual cats will vary considerably.
Over a cat’s lifetime, one year is roughly equivalent to five human years. But the rate of aging of cats is much different than humans, with cats spending a much smaller proportion of their lives in the immature stages. Cats reach physical and sexual maturity in about 1 year, while humans take about 15 years. So a one year old cat is equivalent to a 15 year old human. At two years of age a cat has reached the same maturity as a person of 25 years. See the chart below for a more detailed look at cat to human age equivalency.
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