Cat Life Expectancy: 12 Tips to Help Your Pet Live a Long Life!

June 13, 2017

Here are 12 things you can do to help your cat age more gracefully!

Do you sometimes wish that your kitty really did have nine lives? While your furry friend might not have those superpowers, there are a variety of things you can do to help her live a long and healthy life. Here are 12 tips on how to increase cat life expectancy:

  1. Set Up a Balanced Meal Plan
    It's important to make sure that your pet's diet incorporates all of the nutrients she needs to grown big and strong. "Good premium commercial foods are the safest and best way to design a feeding program," says Dr. Barry Kellogg, a senior veterinary advisor for the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA).
  2. Don't Give Your Cat Too Many Treats
    Does your kitty always want treats? While it might be hard to turn your cat away when she comes to you with those adorable, begging eyes, it's best to make sure that treats make up no more than 5 to 10 percent of her daily caloric intake, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

    By ensuring that you don't go overboard with the treats, you can lower your cat's risk for obesity, which "is a great contributor to a shortened lifespan," says Dr. Kellogg.
  3. Provide Clean Water
    If your kitty isn't drinking enough water, she could become dehydrated or develop a urinary tract disease. As such, you should make sure that you provide your pet with a constant supply of clean water. If your pet is not interested in a typical water bowl, you could try buying a fountain, instead! "A water fountain helps ensure cats get the water they need," says Shawn Simons, the founder of Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats, a Los Angeles feral cat rescue. "Most love the intrigue of a fountain."
  4. Make Sure Your Cat's Vaccinations Are Up-to-Date
    One sure-fire way to increase cat life expectancy is to make sure that your pet has all of the required vaccinations. "Core vaccines are always recommended," says Dr. Kellogg. But there are a variety of other vaccinations that your vet may recommend based on your cat's risk factors for developing certain diseases.
  5. Check Her Teeth
    Your cat's teeth say a lot about his general health. "Chronic tarter, gingivitis and plaque all contribute to bacterial growth and seeding to the rest of the body," which may lead to further health issues, says Dr. Kellogg. According to the ASPCA, you can keep your pet's teeth clean by brushing them with a toothpaste that is specifically formulated for cats.
  6. Visit Your Vet Regularly
    In order to ensure that your kitty is in tip-top shape, you should take her to the vet for periodic checkups. "A yearly checkup can be a great opportunity to get advice from your veterinarian on how to keep your cat healthy," says Dr. Denise Petryk, the director of veterinary services at Trupanion. By booking regular vet visits, you can also catch any potential problems as early as possible.
  7. Treat Her Hairballs
    If your kitty is vomiting, it might simply be because she has a hairball. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to prevent your cat from developing these pesky lumps of hair. "Periodic treatment with a flavored laxative can help," as can regular trips to a groomer, says Dr. Kellogg.

    However, he warns that you should never use mineral oil. You can also prevent your cat from developing hairballs in the first place by brushing her fur regularly. Most cats love to be pampered in this way!
  8. Be Careful When You Are Using Rat Poison
    Does your house or yard have a rat infestation? While it's understandable to act by putting out rodenticides, it's important to be aware of the fact that those poisons could also endanger your pet. "Cats can be poisoned by ingesting an 'easily' caught rodent that has ingested poison," says Dr. Kellogg. If your cat can get at rats, you should try to come up with another solution to your rodent problem.
  9. Keep Your Cat Indoors
    You can help to ensure that your pet has a long, safe life by keeping her indoors, as cats who roam freely can encounter a variety of new dangers. For instance, an outdoor cat may ingest a pesticide or get attacked by another animal.
  10. Spay or Neuter Your Pet
    According to a report by the Banfield Pet Hospital, cats who are spayed or neutered may live a longer life. And there are other benefits, as well! "Spaying and neutering also reduce the risk of certain illnesses," says Dr. Petryk.
  11. Give Your Kitty Vitamins (If She Needs Them)
    Did you know that there are a wide variety of available vitamins for cats? For instance, if your pet has a vitamin A or vitamin D deficiency, you can provide her with the appropriate supplement! However, as the ASPCA points out, you should only give your pet these vitamins if your veterinarian has instructed you to do so.
  12. Provide Toys
    Toys aren't just for fun. They provide some much-needed exercise for a sedentary cat, and they help prevent boredom. "Keep your cat entertained with toys, treats, interaction, trees, climbing and excitement," says Dr. Petryk.

And read Keeping Your Cat Healthy: All About Caring for Your Pet.

Laura Agadoni is a pet writer and pet owner whose articles appear in various publications, such as The Daily Puppy, Pets on, The Nest, Tom's of Maine, The Penny Hoarder and Trulia.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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