Tabby cats have beautiful coat patterns, playful personalities, and are wildly affectionate. But while you’re enjoying your tabby cat’s younger years, you start to wonder how long she’ll live. On the lower end, the average domestic cat has a lifespan of about 13 years, so how long do tabby cats live?
Tabby cats live just as long as other cats (10-20 years). ““Tabby” merely refers to your cat’s coat pattern and doesn’t impact her health. However, keeping your tabby cat indoors, playing with her for 20+ minutes a day, feeding her a balanced diet, and getting her fixed can prolong her lifespan.
The projected lifespan of a tabby cat isn’t as straightforward as the standard “10-20 years.” To learn a little more about how long tabby cats live and what you can do to prolong their life expectancies, read on!
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What Is a Tabby Cat?
“Tabby” doesn’t refer to your cat’s breed as much as it references your cat’s coat and marking. A tabby cat generally has a multi-color striped pattern on her face, legs, and tail, while the rest of her body may have more unique markings (like dots or even swirls). One of the most unmistakable signs that a cat is a tabby is that she has an M-like shape on her forehead.
Want to learn a little bit more about the tabby cat? Watch the video below to learn ten interesting facts about tabbies!
The Average Tabby Cat Lifespan
Just like your average domestic cat (no particular breed), a tabby cat has a projected lifespan of about 10-20 years. But that doesn’t mean your tabby cat won’t live for fewer than ten years and won’t live for longer than 20 years.
In fact, the oldest tabby cats on record were:
- Creme Puff (a tabby mix) lived to the ripe age of 38 years
- Puss (a tabby) reached 36 before passing
- Ma (a shorthair tabby) lived until the age of 34
- Nutmeg (a tabby) thrived for 31 years
- Tiger (an orange tabby) lived for an impressive 32 years
On the other hand, a tabby cat with a condition like FeLV, FIV, or cancer may only live for a few additional years after diagnosis. In other words: There are plenty of factors that determine your tabby cat’s life expectancy, not just the fact she’s a tabby.
Do Other Breeds Have Tabby Markings?
In most cases, a tabby cat is a standard domestic shorthair who happens to have the quintessential tabby markings. But certain pure breeds also boast tabby markings (though we usually refer to them as their breed names, not as “tabby cats”). The average life expectancies of breeds with tabby patterns include:
|Abyssinian||9-15 years||American Bobtail||13-15 years||American Shorthair||15-20 years||Domestic Shorthair (DSH)||10-20 years||Maine Coon||12-15 years||Manx||8-14 years||Ocicat||10-15 years||Oriental||10-15 years|
Interestingly, the life expectancies between these tabby breeds are very similar, sticking to that 10-20 year range in most instances.
How Long Do Tabby Cats Live Indoors?
Keeping your tabby cat indoors is one of the best ways to prolong her lifespan. The average indoor-only tabby cat will live 10-20 years, while even letting your tabby cat outdoors to roam occasionally can dramatically cut her life expectancy down to just 2-5 years.
There are three reasons why an outdoor cat may live just 1/3 as long as an indoor cat:
- It’s Unsafe: An outdoor cat is far more likely to get hit by a car, get into a scuffle with a nearby territorial cat (or predator), or even ingest poison if a neighbor sees outdoor cats as “pests.”
- Illness is More Likely: Outdoor cats can bring home fleas, ticks, and mites that can carry diseases or contract non-curable diseases like FIV or FeLV after being bitten by an infected cat (about 4% of feral cats have FIV).
- Wandering Off is a Possibility: An outdoor cat may wander too far and find herself off the beaten path, and the chances of finding your lost tabby cat alive within the first seven days are just 34%.
Even if your cat chirps at birds or meows at the back door, don’t let her outside! The risk of injury, illness, or becoming lost is far too great and can lead to early death or a non-curable disease that can cut years off her lifespan.
How Long Do Fixed Tabby Cats Live?
Research shows that about 80% of domestic cats are neutered or spayed. The most obvious reason to get your tabby cat fixed is so that you don’t have to worry about litters of kittens, spraying, or the near-monthly heat cycles (in females). But the latest research shows that a spayed female cat will live 39% longer, and a neutered male cat will live 62% longer.
Getting your tabby cat fixed as soon as possible (sometimes as young as eight-weeks-old) can lower the risk of:
- Cancerous breast tumors
- Testicular cancer
- Uterine infections
- Prostate issues
- Behavioral issues
- Running away from home (for mating purposes)
Remember that cats reach a point of sexual maturity between 4-10 months old. With that in mind, the longer you wait to fix your tabby, the more likely your female cat will fall pregnant (or your male cat will get another cat pregnant), and the health benefits may not be as significant.
The Difference Between Male & Female Cat Life Expectancies
Your tabby cat’s life expectancy can also come down to whether your kitty is a male or female. Many researchers have yet to pinpoint a statistical difference between a male and female cats’ lifespan, but other studies suggest female cats live slightly longer than their male counterparts. If you have a female tabby cat, she’s likely to live about two years (or 15%) longer than a male cat. The expectancy is about 15 years for female cats and closer to 13 years for male cats.
How to Prolong Your Tabby Cats Life Expectancy
Your tabby cat may live strictly indoors, be fixed, and be a female, but none of that will matter if you don’t care for your tabby appropriately. Some things you can do to prolong your tabby cat’s lifespan include:
An obese cat is nearly three times more likely to die between the ages of 8-12 than a cat of a healthy weight. That’s because obese cats are far more likely to develop conditions like cancer, heat intolerance, and arthritis. Stick to feeding your cat about 20 calories per pound, infuse wet or raw fat into your tabby cat’s diet, and feed her two meals a day (don’t free-feed!).
Another way to keep your cat’s weight and joints healthy is to play with her twice a day for ten minutes or more at a time. Invest in a slew of toys to keep your tabby cat entertained, such as mouse toys, lasers, puzzles, and stuffed animals. Your cat will enjoy spending time with you and get fit while doing so.
Regular Vet Visits
Many medical conditions are treatable if you pursue care soon enough. Take your tabby cat to the vet once a year for her annual check-up and vaccines. Increase your cat’s vet visits to twice a year once she’s a senior—about seven years old—and, of course, take her to the vet if you notice anything unusual (such as poor appetite, lethargy, open wounds, or behavioral changes).
Tabby cats are no different than other domestic cats, aside from their beautiful markings. You should expect your tabby cat to live between 10-20 years, on average, especially if your cat is fixed, female, and remains indoors. However, it’s not unusual for tabby cats to live upwards of 30 years in rare circumstances with the right interventions in place—such as a healthy diet, exercise, and regular vet visits.
- The FASEB Journal: Life expectancy of American Domestic Shorthair cats
- VCA Hospitals: Steps to a Healthy Cat Weight
- Wikipedia: Tabby cat
- UC Davis: Cats: Indoors or Outdoors?
- Cornell Feline Health Center: Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
- Cornell Feline Health Center: Feline Leukemia Virus
- Cornell Feline Health Center: On the Lookout for FIV
- Animals: Search Methods Used to Locate Missing Cats and Locations Where Missing Cats Are Found
- Alley Cat Allies: New Scientific Study Finds Vast Majority of Pet Cats Are Neutered
- AVMA: Banfield: Spaying, neutering correlate with longer lives
- Wikipedia: List of oldest cats
- Cellular Metabolism: Sex Differences in Lifespan
- VCA Hospitals: Obesity in Cats
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.