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How Long Do Cats Live?

The average lifespan of a cat is said to be about 13-17 years. However, this can vary drastically depending on factors such as your cat’s breed and lifestyle. There are also outliers on both ends of the spectrum. The most well-known outlier was a cat named Creme Puff, the record-holding oldest cat ever, who lived to be 38 years old.

Indoor Cats vs Outdoor Cats

The average 13-17 year lifespan is for cats who solely live inside the home. This keeps your cat out of harm’s way. There are many factors that could cause your cat to have a shortened lifespan outside including traffic, predators, and plants that are poisonous to cats.

Outdoor cats live significantly shorter lives. Unfortunately, cats who spend all their time outdoors only live for 2-5 years on average. Some people have hybrid indoor-outdoor cats, but there isn’t as much research into the average lifespan of this lifestyle because the lifestyle itself can vary greatly from person to person and cat to cat. Some suggest that this hybrid approach doesn’t yield much greater results than having a solely outdoor cat while others suggest that their average lifespan is slightly higher, around the 4-8 years range.

Does Cat Breed Affect Lifespan?

Most cat owners don’t know their cat’s breed. This is completely normal as most cats aren’t a specific breed or even hybrids the way dogs are. Most pet cats are typically considered either domestic short-hair, domestic medium-hair, or domestic long-hair. Even with these more general descriptions, there tends to be a little variation in the average lifespan of a cat.

Short-haired cats are typically known live the longest. The domestic short-hair cat averages on the high end of life expectancy at 15-17 years. Unfortunately, their long-haired counterparts get the short end of the stick with lifespans averaging only 13-15 years.

If you’re looking to get a specific breed of cat, there are cats known for their longevity and cats known for their unfortunately short lives.

Cat Breeds With the Longest Lifespans

There’s variation in the lifespan of all kinds of cats. Getting a cat breed known for longevity doesn’t guarantee anything as health complications can arise in any breed. Finding a cat that fits into one of these breeds may increase your chances of having a cat live a long life with you though. All lifespans given are for indoor-only cats. These 5 cat breeds have a tendency to have longer lifespans than the average cat.


brown cat lying on knitted textile
Photo by Leah Kelley on

Siamese cats are sometimes said to have the longest lifespan of any domestic cat breed. It’s not uncommon for the breed to reach 20. They have an average lifespan of 15-20 years. While a few others share a similar average, the Siamese has a few outliers that are said to be some of the oldest cats of all time.

There is a Siamese cat in Thailand that is currently said to be 34 years old. This would make her one of the oldest cats ever, but her age has not been properly verified. In fact, there hasn’t been an ‘oldest living cat’ verified since the previous record holder passed in 2016.


Photo by Mary Desmond on Wikimedia Commons

The Balinese ranks as having the highest average lifespan, but the breed hasn’t seen any outliers that cross into the oldest cat territory. Their average life expectancy ranges from 18 to 22 years. They are also the only long-hair cat breed with claims to longevity.


Midnight, a 10-year-old Bombay
Photo by Keyofz on Wikimedia Commons

Bombay cats are black cats known for their panther-like appearance. They were created as a cross between black American shorthairs and sable Burmese cats. It’s a semi-recently recognized breed that wasn’t established until 1970.

This breed is unique in having resistance to some feline illnesses including FIV. It helps to keep their average lifespan high at 15-20 years.

Russian Blue

Photo by John Brighenti on Wikimedia Commons

Despite the misnomer, the Russian Blue is actually a grey cat. They’ve been recorded as cats that have lived into their 20s on numerous occasions. This helps keep their average lifespans high at 15-20 years of age. This is one of the few cat landraces, or naturally occurring breeds, that rank for longevity. Most other long-lived breeds are the result of hybridization.

European Shorthair

Quincy the European Shorthair

European Shorthairs have one of the longest average lifespans, ranging from 15-22 years. Although this breed isn’t commonly available in the US, the good news for most American cat owners is that the American Shorthair has a highly comparable lifespan of 15-20 years. Between these common shorthairs, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find at least one of these in your area to give a forever home to.

Cat Breeds With the Shortest Lifespans

Just as some breeds are prone to longevity, there are some breeds that typically have shorter lifespans than others. While these figures are just averages and don’t necessarily mean that you won’t have a long-lived cat of one of these breeds, these breeds just don’t typically have the genetics for longevity.

The life expectancy of these 5 breeds is on the low end of average and it isn’t uncommon to lose them before they hit double digits.

American Wirehair

an american wirehair cat on the ground
Photo by Ninety Seven Years on

The American Wirehair is one of the rarest cat breeds on this list so it’s highly unlikely that you’ll just run into one at your local shelter.

They are similar to the American Shorthair, but they have a stringy hair texture like that of terrier dogs. However, they don’t have nearly as long of a lifespan. American Wirehairs are only expected to live an average of 7-12 years.

This may be the shortest lifespan of any domestic cat breed.


Stylized depiction of a Manx cat (1885)
Illustrated Natural History, Volume I: Mammalia

Manx cats are known for being fully tailless, but some individuals are born with short stubs as well. While being tailless doesn’t make them any less adorable, they are prone to health issues, including a common one that is lethal in utero. This means that even the breeding of these cats comes with more risks than the average cat. They can still live full lives, but their average is on the low end of the spectrum. A Manx typically lives 8-14 years.


Photo by Heikki Siltala on Wikimedia Commons

The Cymric is another tailless cat that’s closely related to the Manx. The main difference between the two is that Cymrics are long-haired cats. They have similar health complications to the Manx breed, however, and can even have issues that begin before birth.

Like their Manx relatives, Cymrics typically only live an average of 8-14 years.

German Rex

Photo by Bebopscrx on Wikimedia Commons

German Rexes are a short-hair breed known for their curly fur. This trait is common to all Rex cat breeds. They all have shorter than average lifespans, but the German Rex is a little lower than the others. They have a life expectancy of 9-14 years.


Abyssinians are one of the oldest, if not the oldest, breed of domestic cat in the world. They are the cats that were found mummified alongside ancient Egyptians. These slender cats sport large ears and have a rather unique appearance. They’re known to have personalities that are more comparable to dogs than cats. Unfortunately, the same can be said about their lifespan as they only live an average of 9-15 years.

Maximizing Your Cat’s Life Expectancy

Most cats may live an average of 13-17 years, but many factors impact how long you’ll get to spend with your beloved ball of fur and claws. Health, diet, genetics, and a bit of luck all play a part. There are so many things that can influence a cat’s lifespan, much like our own. Just make sure that you take care of your cat to ensure you get as much time together as possible.

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Are Essential Oil Flea Treatments Safe for Cats?

There has been a large shift in the past decade or so towards natural living. People are trying to move away from artificial and processed products and this trend has extended to their pets as well. Many people have begun feeding their cats grain-free foods, declawing is becoming more and more uncommon and people are trying to reduce the number of synthetic chemicals they put on their furry friends.

While on the lookout for natural and effective flea treatments for cats, you may have heard that peppermint oil can kill fleas, or maybe you’ve even seen that there are a few commercially available essential oil cat treatments that use peppermint oil as the main ingredient.

You may want to think twice before buying it for your cat, though!

It’s very important to keep cats flea and tick-free, especially if you have outdoor/indoor kitties. Not only are fleas a nuisance that are incredibly hard to get rid of once established, fleas and ticks can also carry blood-borne diseases that can affect both our cats and ourselves. That’s why there’s such a large demand for topical flea treatments for our pets, but these medications are not exactly free of their own problems.

Conventional flea treatments for cats are made with insecticides such as pyriproxyfen that disrupt the growth cycle of fleas. While these flea treatments are usually safe for your cat when used as directed, accidental ingestion or hypersensitivity to the chemicals can cause negative side effects, ranging from hyper-salivating, agitation and vomiting. In extreme cases, such as when flea treatments intended for dogs are applied to cats, seizures and death can occur.

Are Essential Oils Effective Against Fleas?

So it’s perfectly understandable that people are looking for a natural alternative to the synthetic chemicals that are often used in these conventional flea medications. Since essential oils have gained so much popularity with people due to their medicinal and wellness-promoting effects, they seem like the perfect alternative to artificial flea medication for our cats.

It seems like the active ingredients in the majority of these natural flea treatments are peppermint oil, clove oil and lemongrass oil. These are usually diluted into another carrier oil, like canola oil. We decided to look at the effectiveness of each of these oils at killing or repelling fleas before trying it on our cats. Here’s what we found:

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil is a very effective insecticide that has shown promise at repelling fleas and ticks. The strong odor of menthol, the main naturally-occurring chemicals in peppermint, interferes with a flea’s sense of smell, confusing them and leading to them avoid the area with the smell. Just planting peppermint around your yard can help reduce how many fleas get into your property.

Clove Oil

Clove oil and its constituent compound eugenol have also been researched and shown to be a powerful natural insecticide capable of quickly killing fleas and other insects. While its mechanism of action isn’t fully understood, it is thought to be an insect neurotoxin and has shown to be capable of producing cardiac hyperactivity followed by death in many insect species, meaning it pretty much gives bugs heart attacks.

Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass, a deliciously smelling ornamental grass native to India, has also been shown to have natural insect repelling properties as well. It can harm and kill insects without having any dangerous effects on people. It’s believed that the volatile compounds that make it smell so strong have a neurotoxic effect on many insect species, including fleas.

Are Essential Oils Safe For Cats?

Calico cat is suspicious and you should be too

These three essential oils sound like an all-natural powerhouse of flea destroying goodness. No wonder so many companies are using it in their products. Essential oil flea treatments for cats seem to be springing up everywhere; there’s even a dollar store brand available now. This all sounds great, right? Not at all.

Peppermint Oil & Clove Oil Are Highly Toxic to Cats!!


Yes, you read that right. These two oils, the very same ones that are used as the main ingredients in a majority of all-natural flea treatments for cats, are incredibly dangerous and not recommended for use on cats! Not only does the ASPCA list Mint (Mentha sp.), which includes peppermint, as a toxic plant to cats, but there have also been plenty of studies that have shown that peppermint oil is dangerous to our feline companions. One study even described how cats are more likely than dogs to have adverse reactions to these essential oil-based flea treatments, even when used as directed.

Peppermint oil and clove oil can cause tremors and muscle spasms, vomiting, drooling and even respiratory problems in cats. Lemongrass isn’t as dangerous for cats, but it should still not be applied directly to their fur or skin.

While essential oils can be perfectly safe for humans and can even be used on other pets such as dogs, cats have a much smaller liver and are more sensitive to concentrated compounds such as those found in essential oils. A cat’s liver also lacks an important enzyme (glucuronyl transferase) that helps us break down certain compounds in peppermint, clove and other essential oils: phenols, ketones and monoterpene hydrocarbons.

These compounds aren’t only dangerous when ingested, which a cat is likely to do with anything you put on their fur as they meticulously groom themselves, but they can also easily pass through a cat’s skin and into their bloodstream.

This means that you should never put essential oils, no matter how diluted, on your cat’s skin or fur. The results could be deadly.

Here’s what a reviewer had to say about one of these products:

And they weren’t the only ones whose cat had some kind of bad reaction. Even if it doesn’t happen to every cat, putting essential oils on your kitty is like playing Russian roulette with their health.

You should not only refuse to use essential oil flea medications on your cat but should also be very careful about what you keep in your home. It’s not recommended to use diffusers with potentially dangerous essential oils in a house with cats, as even inhaling the diffused compounds can cause disorientation, vomiting and muscle spasms in some sensitive kitties.

Peppermint and clove oil aren’t the only oils that are dangerous for cats. They’re just the ones being commonly sold as “safe and natural” flea treatments and are being put on thousands of cats across the country.

Although you should never put ANY essential oil directly on your cat, that doesn’t mean you can’t diffuse or use other oils in your home.

We’ve put together a handy list of dangerous essential oils you should keep away from your kitty, which you can download here: