How to Live Long with Your Feline Friend
Who doesn’t want to spend as much time as possible with their beloved feline companion? So, how can we help our cats live longer? One of the keys to a long life for cats is understanding the characteristics of cats that live long lives. In this article, we will introduce these features, as well as provide tips on how to help your cat live a longer life. Actually, all of these tips are basic, so consider using them as a reference for living a long and happy life with your feline friend.
✨ How Long is a Feline’s Life Span?
Cats are known for their longevity, but what exactly is considered a “long” lifespan for these furry companions?
❂ The Average Lifespan of Cats Today
According to a survey conducted by the Japanese Pet Food Association in 2020, the average lifespan of cats in Japan is 15.45 years. This is a trend upwards from previous surveys conducted 5 years prior (2015) at 15.09 years and 10 years prior (2010) at 14.4 years. In recent years, it is not uncommon for cats to live beyond 20 years.
❂ The Record-Breaking Lifespan of Cats
So, what is the maximum lifespan that a cat can achieve? The current record-holder for the longest-living cat, recognized by the Guinness World Records, is a female cat named “Creme Puff” from the United States who lived to be 38 years and 3 days old, equivalent to approximately 168 years in human years. Another cat, “Granny Rex Allen,” owned by Jake Berry, lived to be 34 years and 2 months. As of 2021, the oldest living cat is a 34-year-old Siamese named “Great Grandmother Wad” who resides in Chantaburi.
✨ The Key to a Long Life for Cats
Cats have the potential to live long, healthy lives, and understanding the traits that contribute to their longevity can help ensure that your feline friend lives a long, happy life.
❂ Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight
Similar to humans, carrying excess weight can increase the risk of various health problems in cats. Conversely, being underweight is also not healthy. Surveys of cat owners whose cats have lived a long life reveal that the most commonly reported body condition was “average”, with over 70% of responses.
Determining the ideal weight for a cat can be challenging as it depends on various factors such as breed, bone structure, and individual differences. A useful tool for evaluating a cat’s weight is the “Body Condition Score” (BCS). The BCS takes into consideration the cat’s shape when viewed from above and the side, as well as the palpable rib bones.
A cat with a healthy weight should have barely visible rib bones, a gentle curve in the belly with a thin layer of fat, and a moderate tuck in the waist. As a general guideline, a weight increase of up to 15% from the cat’s weight at 1 year old is considered normal.
To maintain a healthy body weight, it’s essential to monitor portion sizes when feeding. Use a kitchen scale to measure food, and avoid feeding your cat human food as much as possible. Limit treats to 1-2% of the cat’s daily calorie needs and adjust the food portion accordingly.
❂ Creating a Stress-Free Environment for Your Feline Friend
Stress can have serious health consequences, and cats are particularly sensitive to it. Prolonged stress can weaken their immune system, making them more susceptible to illnesses and physical decline.
Take a cue from the owner of “Claimpaf,” a cat listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, who prioritized their cat’s well-being by creating a stress-free environment and providing plenty of fun and enjoyment.
・Gently Interact with Your Cat
Owners of long-lived cats tend to be gentle when interacting with their feline friends, avoiding angry or upset outbursts.
・Minimize Changes to Your Cat’s Surroundings
Cats place great value on their territory, and changes to their environment can be a major source of stress. While it may not always be possible to avoid changes completely, it is recommended to minimize disruptions, such as redecorating, to maintain a stable environment for your cat.
・Ensure Adequate Sleep and a Clean Living Space
Providing adequate sleep and maintaining a clean and hygienic living space are essential for your cat’s well-being. Offer a comfortable bed and wash it regularly to prevent the growth of dust mites or fleas. Keep your home tidy by using a vacuum cleaner regularly.
❂ Preventing Kidney Disease in Cats
Kidney disease and urinary tract illnesses are among the leading causes of death in senior cats. As cats are naturally not very active drinkers, their urine is highly concentrated, putting a strain on their kidneys and making them more susceptible to these illnesses.
Preventing kidney disease in cats requires adequate hydration and a balanced diet. Offer a comprehensive and nutritious diet and make fresh water readily available at all times.
Provide multiple water stations, using containers that your cat prefers. Some cats prefer lukewarm water or running water, and the container should not cause discomfort to the cat’s whiskers. The material of the container can also affect your cat’s preference, so choose one that they enjoy to encourage them to drink more water.
There are now many food and snack options available that are specifically designed to support kidney health. Incorporating these into your cat’s mealtime can provide additional benefits.
✨ Prolonging Your Feline’s Life: Tips and Tricks
Cats are beloved companions, and we want them to have a long and healthy life. Here are some tips to help extend your cat’s lifespan.
❂ Indoor Lifestyle
More and more cat owners are opting for indoor living for their furry friends. This is believed to be a factor in increasing the average lifespan of cats.
A survey conducted by the Japan Pet Food Association found that the average lifespan of indoor cats is 16.13 years, compared to 13.57 years for outdoor cats, a difference of nearly 2 and a half years. Furthermore, data from the Ministry of the Environment and local animal welfare organizations reveal that stray cats have an average lifespan of only 3 to 5 years.
The difference between indoor cats and outdoor or stray cats can be attributed to the increased risk of accidents, fights, and infections when cats are outside.
❂ Age-Appropriate Nutrition
By providing a balanced diet and fresh water, you can ensure that your cat gets the proper nutrition. It’s important to switch to age-appropriate diets for kittens, adult cats, and senior cats, as each stage requires a different balance of nutrients and calories.
❂ Regular Veterinarian Visits
Making regular trips to the vet is important. It’s recommended to have your cat vaccinated and undergo a health check-up annually. Familiarizing your cat with the vet and receiving routine care such as nail trimmings can also reduce stress during visits when your cat is sick.
There are “normal ranges” for various values in blood tests and urine tests, but these values can vary from cat to cat. Keeping track of your cat’s normal values when they are healthy can help you detect abnormalities early.
・Health Check-Up Schedule
It’s crucial to take your cat to the vet immediately if any abnormalities are detected during the first 6 months of life, when their immune system is low and life-threatening situations are more likely to occur.
For adult cats aged 6 months to 6 years, have a health check-up at least once a year.
For cats 7 years and older, they are considered senior cats and their health may decline gradually, increasing the risk of illness. It’s recommended to have a health check-up at least once every six months during this stage.
❂ Understanding Your Cat’s Communication
To ensure the health and wellbeing of your beloved feline, it is important to pay attention to their physical changes and grooming habits on a daily basis. Early detection and treatment of any health issues can improve or slow their progression. Regular check-ups and consistent communication with your cat are also recommended.
Brushing your cat on a daily basis not only helps keep their skin healthy and reduces shedding, but it also gives you the opportunity to check for any lumps or abnormalities on their body.
Maintaining good oral health is also crucial for cats. 80% of adult cats are said to suffer from gum disease, which can affect not only their oral health, but their overall health as well. While daily brushing may be challenging, aim to brush their teeth at least two to three times a week and regularly check their mouth.
Although cats generally prefer solitude, those who have lived with humans for a long time still require human interaction. Engaging in playtime not only enhances communication, but also relieves boredom and lack of exercise. Indoor living can lead to decreased physical activity, resulting in weaker muscles and increased stress, increasing the risk of injury and illness.
Spend 15 minutes each day playing with toys, engaging in a game of chase, or simply playing together to bring joy to both you and your cat.
・Conversing with Your Cat
Cats do not understand human language as we do, but they are capable of comprehending the tone of the person speaking and the meaning of what is being said to some extent. While petting or grooming your cat, take the time to talk to them often. Your love and affection will undoubtedly be conveyed to them.
✨ Honoring Longevity in Cats: Japan’s “Longevity Animal Awards”
Did you know that in Japan, the long-lived dogs and cats are celebrated through a program called the “Longevity Animal Awards”? This initiative is conducted by the Japan Animal Welfare Association, a public interest foundation, and has been held since 2005 as a way of advocating for animal welfare.
Reaching the age required for this award is a testament to the proper care and love given to the animal by its family. The Longevity Animal Awards not only acknowledge the longevity of pets but also serve as a token of gratitude to the families who have lived with their animal companions.
To receive the award, cats must be 18 years or older and an application must be submitted. The required documents include a designated application form, a questionnaire, and an age/survival certificate. These documents can be downloaded from the Japan Animal Welfare Association’s website, and the age/survival certificate must be completed by a veterinarian based on the cat’s medical records.
In 2019, the oldest cat in Japan was “Don,” a mixed breed, who lived to be 27 years old – surpassing the average lifespan of 12 years.
Thanks to advancements in veterinary medicine and cat food, cats are living longer lives. A recent survey from 2020 found that the average lifespan of a cat is 15.45 years, which has increased by almost a year in the past decade.
Cats with a healthy physique, a low-stress living environment, and no history of kidney disease are more likely to live longer lives. Other factors that contribute to a long lifespan include indoor living, a balanced diet, regular veterinary check-ups, and strong communication with their owners.
As cat owners, we want to spend as much time as possible with our feline friends. By providing them with proper care, nutrition, and a supportive living environment, we can help them live longer, healthier lives. Let’s aim for a long and happy life with our furry companions!