Cats are incredible companions; loyal, cuddly and great hunters. The average lifespan of a cat is 10 to 15 years; less, however, if the cat goes outdoors, lowering the life expectancy to seven years, increasing to an average of 11 years if your moggy stays indoors. Nevertheless, these (like average human life expectancy statistics) are just that – averages. Olive, owned by John Burgess of Manchester, is 24 – or one 113 in human years – and she’s still catching birds!
So how do you produce a long-living cat in the hope that, one day, it might get the worthy crown of ‘World’s Oldest Cat’? Well, if you were to ask the former owners of Creme Puff, in Texas, USA, they might say they did nothing out of the ordinary, and that during the thirty-eight years she reigned she did as cats typically do – exactly as they please! So is it genetics or simply outstanding care?
Vaccinations, health checks and diet
It’s no secret that getting your cat the appropriate vaccinations (especially against feline leukaemia) when they are kittens is the first step in promoting health and longevity. Sticking with the same vet and keeping up with regular veterinarian visits and all required immunisations will help keep moggy healthy too. Feeding them the appropriate cat food, rich in antioxidant vitamins C & E and fatty acids will keep their little tummies happy and healthy and help to prevent the dreaded hairballs.
Cats, like humans are social and curious beings. They become traumatised when moved from one family to another (although sometimes it has to happen). Cats that stay with the same owner or family throughout their lives seem to fare far better. Homes that provide the right amount of mental and creative stimulation – cat toys, scratching posts, interaction and play with other humans and cats – all lend a helping hand towards longevity.
Look out for any changes
Unlike humans who are able to vocalize when something is wrong, cats cannot. If they are not noticeably bleeding or dragging a leg, many serious cat ailments can get overlooked by humans until it is almost too late. While an older cat may hide or withdraw from social interaction, younger cats shouldn’t and evidence of this behaviour should mean a quick trip to an emergency vet clinic. Lethargy, changes in breathing and excess water drinking should all be investigated as they could be a sign of kidney failure or feline diabetes.
Your cat also needs a cat microchip to reunite with you easily if they get lost.
Once you understand what a cat needs from you – stability, love, good food, proper immunisations and lots of interaction – you are well underway to caring for the next cat to be nominated as the world’s oldest moggy. Keep detailed records and videos of your cat and date them properly to help prove their age. Even a day can make a difference in getting the coveted crown of the ‘World’s Oldest Cat’, but you’ll need your documentation to be purrrffffecct!