How long do cats live? The average lifespan for an indoor cat is about 10-15 years but some cats can live into their 20s, according to UC Davis Veterinary Medicine. And the  Guinness World Records reports the oldest living cat, Poppy, is 24 years old. Compared to other common pets, cats live relatively long lives. But are there ways to make your cat live longer?

Clean The Litter Box

Besides keeping your house smelling fresh, cleaning the litter box every day familiarizes you with your cat’s bathroom habits–which means you’ll be able to spot any irregularities that could be signs of underlying health issues. While cleaning the litter box is probably not a cat owner’s favorite chore, doing it regularly can signal you to anything out of the ordinary to bring up with your veterinarian.

For example, increased or frequent urination could be a symptom of diabetes in cats. While diabetes is manageable, if left untreated it could result in a slew of complications or even be fatal. You can read more about feline diabetes here. Take notice of changes in the litter box. If your cat isn’t urinating and defecating at least daily, they could be constipated or even have a urinary obstruction, which is extremely dangerous. Carefully monitoring litter box usage and reporting results to your vet is one simple way cat owners can increase their pet’s lifespan.

Keep Your Cat Indoors

While indoor cats can live well into their teens, outdoor cats only have a lifespan of about 5 years. Some cats sit at the door, waiting for their chance to explore the great outdoors, and while it may be tempting to give in, your cat will always be safer inside. An outdoor cat’s life has many more stressors than an indoor cat’s which decreases their lifespan.

Life in the outdoors may seem like a great way to keep your cat engaged and entertained, but outdoor cats can come into contact with diseases, become prey for larger predators like coyotes, can become victims of poison or traps, or get into car accidents while trying to cross the street. Your cat can still have a great life living inside as long as you enrich their environment so they don’t get bored. You can keep your kitty entertained with silver vine toys, catios, or these expert-recommended cat toys.

Spay Or Neuter Your Cat

The obvious reason people spay or neuter their cats is to prevent litters, especially since there are millions of homeless cats in shelters, and tragically, millions are euthanized each year. But, there are several other reasons why you should have your cat fixed. For example, fixing your pet eliminates multiple types of cancers from developing–such as cervical cancer, mammary cancer, or prostate cancer. It prevents other fatal diseases, such as pyometra (a life-threatening infection of the uterus), and also reduces your cat’s desire to fight over a mate. Fighting that results in infected bites can transfer feline leukemia and FIV among cats. Furthermore, giving birth puts a great deal of stress on a female cat’s body and numerous complications can come of that.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “Neutered male cats live a mean of 62 percent longer than unneutered male cats, and spayed female cats live a mean of 39 percent longer than unspayed female cats.” That is a hard statistic to overlook when trying to increase your cat’s lifespan! 

Don’t Smoke Around Your Pet

Secondhand smoke affects cats, too! VCA Hospitals says that cats who live in a smoking household are at a much higher risk of developing lung cancer. Cats living in smoky homes are also 2x more likely to develop lymphoma (a cancer of the lymph nodes), which is often fatal. Because cats spend so much time grooming themselves, licking off toxic particles that land on their coats are also likely to develop tumors in their mouths. 

If you are a smoker and want to protect your cat from secondhand smoke, avoid smoking inside the home. The longer cats live in a home with smoke-filled air the more likely it is that they will develop any of the above-described cancers. Help your cat live a long, happy life by giving them a smoke-free home!

Our furry friends can’t live forever. But, we can do everything we can to make sure their time with us is the best it can be! Along with the above tips, take your cat into the vet for yearly checkups. Early detection of dental disease, kidney disease and other common maladies is another great way to extend the life of your pet – and increase their quality of life to boot! 

Check out how old your cat is in human years with this cat age calculator!

Madeleine Brown is a student at the University of Chicago studying English literature. When she’s not studying, her passions are reading, baking, and spoiling her two kitties, Harper and Mr. Bingley.