Behavior Pet Facts Average Cat Lifespan Indoors - Is It The Better Option?

Average Cat Lifespan Indoors – Is It The Better Option?

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Indoor cats tend to outlast their outdoor counterparts. Nowadays, the average cat lifespan while indoors ranges between 12- 15 years, increasing from seven years during the 1980s and nine years back in 1995. This is as opposed to the average cat life spans of 2-5 years witnessed for those living outdoors. What about the oldest cats? The longest age was attained by a cat in Austin who went by the name Creme Puff. He reached 38 years and 3 days old. Let’s look at what sets the difference. Want to calculate your cats age in human years? Find out how to do that on this link.

Safety Of Indoor Living

When within your walls, the cat is less likely to get injured or fall ill. It is also easier for you to quickly identify any health problems as they arise, and make arrangements to have them resolved before they threaten Kitty’s life. In fact, with proper care, the average cat lifespan indoors can be up to 17 years or more.

Pet Owners Worries About Indoor Cats

Many pet owners are worried about the cats becoming fat and lazy—which can easily happen without regular exercise. The indoor nature of simply grazing on that open pet bowl set out for the cat, plus the sedentary lifestyle predisposes Kitty to diabetes. Here, you should invest in keeping your cat active, with everything from toys to play with, scratching posts and perches that the pet will use.

There is also that feeling of guilt when you see your cat spending days staring out of the window, seeming to yearn for freedom. For the cats who have had a taste of outdoor living—perhaps after taking them for a tour where they bumped into the neighbor’s cats, the cat keeps on meowing and tearing at the furniture whenever they are cooped up in the house. If the cat is insistent of getting out, you can get a harness for him. There may be some protest at first, but after some time the cat will get used to it.

Joys Of Outdoor Living

On the other hand, outdoor living gives the cat free range to roam about and go after items that pick their interest. They even sharpen their hunting skills, going after the occasional mouse and hopping onto unaware birds, snagging a quick meal. As the pet owner, you also get some benefits—especially when it comes to maintenance. For instance, the frequency of cleaning out the litter box is reduced.

Photo of brown tabby cat sitting on rock. Written for article "Average Cat Lifespan Indoors—Is It The Better Option?"
Photo by Sharavanan Raja on Unsplash

Living On The Edge: Perlis Of The Cats Remaining Outdoors

The outdoor cat lifespan is affected by the environment, from those in urban and suburban settings, cats in rural areas, to settings with plenty of predatory wildlife. Closeness to roads, adverse weather conditions experienced and the presence of stray animals around also factors in. Here are some of the troubles faced:

Body injuries

As Kitty goes about his activities, he can run into all sorts of trouble. For instance, an encounter with dogs or other aggressive cats is likely to lead to a brawl. Cats can also get hit by cars as they cross streets, or run into unscrupulous kids who decide to pelt stones at the felines. Kittens are more prone to accidents compared to older cats.

Risk of infection

This is bound to increase due to interaction with other animals when up and about. The cat can contract diseases like feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV).


Then there is the situation where the cat brings home fleas and ticks after her escapades outdoors. She may also have had a successful hint, and decided to bring home a dead mouse.


Foods and drinks laced with chemicals are occasionally disposed of. If the cat stumbles upon these and consumes them, she will be at risk. For instance, a cat can easily drink poisons like antifreeze, which will be fatal.

Indoor-Outdoor Cats: Finding A Balance

While indoor living is generally the better option for the cat’s health and safety, as the pet owner you may be also concerned about their quality of life and their desire to explore the outdoors. Should you choose to allow your pet to become an outdoor cat, then there are measures that you can take to increase their safety. First, try to always ensure that they will be back in the house by nightfall, given that problems like getting hit by cars or being chased down by coyotes tend to happen at night. You can also look into getting outdoor cat houses, complete with warm bedding—especially over winter, and plenty of food and water.

For both indoor and outdoor cats, veterinary care is required, including regular checkups. With the current medical advancements proper dietary care, the domestic cat can have a life expectancy of 20 years. Routine treatment for fleas is a necessity, especially for outdoor cats. Also get your pet some kind of identification—whether it is a simple collar with a tag, or have a microchip implanted in the cat’s shoulder blades. For the collar, ensure that it comes with a safety clasp which releases in case Kitty gets caught on something.


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