Tabby Cat Lifespan: How Long Do Tabby Cats Live?

Tabby cat lifespan how long do tabby cats live

Knowing the average tabby cat lifespan is important for cat owners and enthusiasts. With their charming and affectionate personalities, we want them to live for as long as we do. But how long do tabby cats live?

Tabby cats live for approximately 12 to 18 years. Compared to outdoor cats, their average lifespan is relatively long. However, this doesn’t exempt them from common health issues that may shorten their lifespan. Hence, it’s important to know how to keep them healthy and alive for longer.

There are a lot of things to know about a tabby’s lifespan, from the factors that determine their life expectancy, common health problems, and causes of death to tips on how to keep them alive longer.

This guide will discuss everything you need to learn about your tabby cat’s life expectancy. Read along to keep yourself up to date on this information!

Tabby Cat Life Expectancy: How Long Do Tabby Cats Live Indoors?

Walking a domestic tabby cat on a yellow harness

On average, tabbies raised indoors live between 10 and 20 years. Contrary to popular belief that an indoor cat will be lonely and sickly, it actually lengthens their lifespan.

Keeping them indoors will not only keep them safe from unfortunate situations outdoors, but it also allows owners to control their diet and easily keep track of their health.

Compared to indoor cats, outdoor cats are prone to road accidents, wandering off, and getting lost. In addition, they are at an increased risk of contracting viruses and infections from the environment and even from neighboring cats. 

Overall, it is best to keep your tabby cats and domestic cats indoors to prevent them from these unwarranted situations and from cutting years off their lifespans!

To see how you can play with and keep your tabby cats entertained indoors, you may check this video below:

Cutest Tabby Cat Playing. Homemade Cat Toy.

Factors That Determine the Lifespan of Your Tabby Cat

The lifespan of a tabby cat depends on two major factors: their breed and how well you care for them. Their gender, weight, living conditions, and spaying/neutering status also affect their life expectancy.

As a tabby cat owner, it is your responsibility to take note of these factors to help them live longer. This section will help you determine the factors that may affect your tabby cat’s lifespan.


A tabby cat’s breed greatly influences its lifespan. A lot of people mistakenly believe that “tabby” is a cat breed. However, “tabby,” such as an orange tabby, simply refers to the most common coat pattern and markings in cats.

Numerous breeds, from domestic cats to purebred or mixed breed cats, exhibit the tabby coat pattern. This pattern is also found among wild cats such as tigers and leopards.

While tabby cats are not a specific breed, all domestic cats carry the tabby gene. This can be traced to wild cats that carry the tabby pattern.

Tabbies come in different colors and tabby patterns such as an orange tabby cat, grey tabby, calico cat, tortoiseshell cat, mackerel tabby, ticked tabby, classic tabby, black cat, and more!

Certainly, typical household or indoor breeds such as Abyssinian, Bobtails, and Birmans will have a longer lifespan than feral cats or outdoor tabby breeds like the Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest Cat, or European Shorthairs!

Diet and Exercise

Healthy cats are happy cats. Similar to humans and other felines, proper diet and regular exercise play an important role in lengthening your tabby cat’s lifespan. 

Tabby cats will benefit from having a balanced and consistent feeding schedule. This will help them stay healthy and prevent the consequences of poor nutrition. Also, this helps them maintain a healthy weight.

In addition, regular exercise will keep their joints and muscles healthy. Playing with your tabby cats for at least ten minutes a day will pay a lot in the long run!


Several pieces of research indicate that male cats tend to be more social and affectionate towards humans and other cats. This makes them more prone to acquiring viruses and infections that shorten their lifespan.

On the other hand, although female cats tend to be less social, they are prone to developing reproductive health issues, especially if they are not spayed or neutered. This will shorten their average life expectancy.

Overall, male and female tabby cats share the same average lifespan. Still, how well you take care of them should play a more significant role in determining how long your tabby cat will live.


Generally, your tabby cat should maintain healthy body weight. Research reveals that overweight and obese cats are three times more likely to die early compared to healthy cats.

Overweight and obese cats are more prone to developing diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, etc. Keeping a close watch on their diet will prevent them from being overweight and obese.

Consequently, keeping them active through regular exercise will also help them maintain a healthy weight. If you can’t always play with your tabby cat, leave them with toys to keep them entertained and moving.

Living Conditions

The living condition is an important factor that determines the lifespan of your tabby cat. As mentioned above, keeping your cat indoors and preventing them from being an outdoor cat greatly influences your cat’s longevity.

Indoor cats tend to live longer than outdoor cats. Indoor cats live for an average of 10 to 20 years, while outdoor cats live for only two to five years.

Keeping your tabby as an indoor cat allows you to control their diet, exercise, and keep a close watch on their safety. This will greatly increase their chances of reaching up to 20 years.

Spaying or Neutering

Tabby cats live longer if they are fixed. Similar to other animals, spaying or neutering lowers the risk of cancer, uterine tumors and infections, prostate issues, behavioral issues, and running away from home for mating purposes.

Furthermore, a spayed female cat and a neutered male cat will save you from unwanted kitten litter and the inconvenience of dealing with female cats’ heat cycles and their effects on male cats.

READ NEXT: Torbie, Tabby, Tortie, and Calico Cats: What Are the Differences?

The Tabby Cat Life Cycle

Tabby cat kitten relax lies on white soft blanket

Similar to other cat breeds, tabby cats undergo four life stages: kittens, young adults, mature cats, and senior cats. This section will give you a clearer picture of each of these life stages.


Your tabby cat is categorized as a kitten from birth until they reach 12 months old. Tabby kittens are considered to be at their most delicate and sensitive stage during this period.

Aside from their bodies, your tabby kitten will develop their habits during the first three to six months of its life. Hence, it is important to teach and help them get used to habits that will keep your tabby kitten healthy.

Lastly, your tabby kitten will need lots of attention, time, and energy during this stage, where they will show a lot of playful energy. Be prepared to exert extra effort in playing with them as kittens.

Young Adults

Young adult tabby cats are aged between one and six years. Despite being less playful compared to when they were kittens, they will still need lots of playtime and attention from their owners.

As young adults, they will also learn, develop, and approach sexual maturity. To avoid unwanted litter, reproductive health issues, and aggressive behavior, it is best to have them spayed or neutered.

They will also need a change in diet from milk, kitten’s food, and wet cat food to more protein-rich meals.

Mature Cats

When they reach seven and until they are ten years old, your tabby cat is considered a mature cat. During this stage, their playful behavior decreases, and they are prone to gaining weight.

As they become less active and their metabolism slows down, it is important to keep a close eye on their health and diet. Although they may appear young and healthy, health problems may slowly develop.

To prevent illness and serious complications, regular check-ups with a vet are essential.

Senior Cats

The final stage of your tabby cat’s life cycle is when they turn 11 years and beyond. Frequent vet visits and examinations should be a high priority since they are prone to digestive problems.

Your vet may require you to change your tabby cat’s diet to food tailor-fit for senior cats. They will no longer exhibit playful behavior and prefer sleeping, loafing, and snuggling 70% of the time.

Although a tabby cat’s life may appear long, it is important to ensure that they get the best diet, care, and love so they can live a full and happy life.

READ NEXT: Why Do Cats Loaf? Types, Meanings, and FAQs (With Pictures)

The Oldest Living Tabby Cat: How Old Is the Oldest Tabby Cat in the World?

The oldest recorded cat among all other breeds in the world lived until the ripe age of 38 years! This amazing record is held by Creme Puff, a female tabby mix produced by selective breeding from Texas.

The world’s longest-living cat, Creme Puff, is a domestic cat from Austin, Texas. The secret to Creme Puff’s longevity is a diet consisting of dry cat food supplemented with broccoli, eggs, coffee with cream, and red wine!

Creme Puff was also kept active by her owner, with a cat perch built into the walls and a safe cat enclosure in their backyard for her to play on. 

Although provided with a questionable cat diet, Creme Puff lived a full and healthy life which makes her owner one lucky pet parent!

The oldest purebred tabby and the third oldest reported cat in the world is none other than black cat Puss from the UK, who lived for 36 wonderful years.

If 38 and 36 years for tabbies do not sound interesting enough, that’s 168 and 160 years old in human years, respectively!

For more information on the oldest tabby cat, Creme Puff, watch this video:

The OLDEST Cat Ever - Meet Creme Puff 🐱

How to Identify the Age of Your Tabby Cat in Human Years

You’ve probably heard that one cat year is equivalent to seven human years. But you’ve probably never heard that this saying is actually just a myth!

So how can we determine our tabby cat’s age? How old is my tabby cat in human years? The calculation is pretty simple and is standard across all breeds.

To calculate your tabby cat’s age, you may use a calculator and simply follow this formula:

40 + 4 (Your Tabby Cat’s Age – 6) = Human Age

The formula is based on the principle that kittens grow fast while they are young and reach a slower aging process when they are older. Still, it is important to note that certain breeds age slower or faster than others.

For a more convenient way of converting tabby cat years to human years, refer to the chart below:

Tabby Cat YearsHuman Years

Calculating your tabby cat’s age is pretty standard, similar to other cat breeds. To convert your cat’s age to human years, you may also use a cat age calculator.

What Do Tabby Cats Usually Die From?

Tabby cat in litter box at home

Having a long average life expectancy does not exempt tabby cats from acquiring diseases or conditions that may shorten their lifespan. These common health conditions can either be genetic or from their environment.

Common Causes of Death in Tabby Kittens

The most common causes of death among kittens are often associated with complications pre-birth, during birth, during their weaning period, or from their environment.

Here are the most common causes of death among kittens and how you can prevent them from keeping tabby kittens healthy:

  • Inadequate Nutrition: Parent cats usually produce a lot of kittens or large litters. These large litters usually create competition among kittens, leading to insufficient feeding, malnutrition, and eventually death among kittens if not prevented.
  • First Litter or Inexperienced Queen: A first-time cat mother is inexperienced. Without proper guidance and help from a cat owner, the birth may lead to trauma, neglect, or in worse cases, cannibalism. Cat owners are advised to guide and observe first-time cat mothers to prevent tabbies from dying.
  • Dystocia: Dystocia is a term for birth difficulties among cats. It is characterized by the uterus producing weak or no contractions, resulting in the failure of the expulsion of kittens through the birth canal. If a pregnant cat is suspected of having dystocia, seek veterinary care immediately for an emergency cesarean procedure.
  • Congenital Abnormalities: Congenital abnormalities refer to physical defects present from birth. These defects can either be genetic or developmental such as when a mother cat is exposed to certain drugs or diseases while pregnant. Common congenital abnormalities include cleft palate, umbilical hernia, and skeletal deformities that may result in stillbirth or early kitten death.

The aforementioned causes of death among tabby kittens are certainly preventable, especially if early signs are noted and observed. The earlier you become aware of these issues, the better it is for your tabby kittens.

Common Causes of Death in Adult Tabbies

As they grow older, your tabby cat’s body will experience behavioral, physiological, and behavioral changes compared to when they were young cats. 

As responsible cat lovers and pet owners, you must be aware of these changes to help them manage, if not prevent, illnesses that may arise and cause their death.

Here are the most common causes of death among adult tabby cats:

  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP): Feline Infectious Peritonitis is caused by a feline coronavirus that affects both outdoor cats and domestic cats. Virus mutation among infected tabby cats usually results in extreme inflammatory reactions in the abdomen, brain, and kidney. This disease is progressive and is almost always fatal.
  • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) Infection: Feline Leukemia Virus is the second leading cause of death among tabbies, killing 85% of those infected. It is diagnosed by a veterinarian through a blood test and is transmitted through infected saliva, blood, urine, and feces. The infection will cause anemia, lymphoma, and predisposition to other deadly infections. For indoor cats, the risk of getting infected is only 3%.
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) Infection: Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is one of the most common diseases and causes of death among tabbies worldwide. The primary mode of transmission is through bite wounds from an infected animal. Symptoms include enlarged lymph nodes, fever, depression, and loss of appetite. FIV infection has no cure; hence it is important to keep your pet cat safe by preventing exposure to the virus.
  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common heart disease in tabby cats. It is characterized by the thickening of the heart’s muscular walls, causing chest pain, difficulty breathing, fatigue, and, if not appropriately managed, death.

Tabby adult cats are prone to acquiring and developing illnesses like most cats. 

Keeping them indoors and providing them with exercise and a healthy diet will lessen the chances of experiencing these common causes of death among adult tabbies.

READ NEXT: 13 Amazing Facts About Grey Tabby Cats (With Pictures & FAQ)

4 Easy Tips to Help Your Tabby Cat Live Longer

Silver tabby cat sitting on a window shelf

With the charming and playful personalities of tabby cats, owners will certainly want their cats to live longer. However, their lifespans are not as long as ours.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to maximize the life of your tabby cat! 

Here are four easy tips you can do to help your tabby cat live longer:

1. Give your tabby a healthy diet

Proper nutrition will ensure your tabby’s good health and long life! The right kind in the right proportions will keep your tabby’s health and weight in check.

Giving them high-quality cat food mixed with vegetables is the best diet for your tabby to grow as a healthy cat. Avoid free-feeding and consistently feed them two meals a day.

Ensure that your pet tabby eats a balanced diet formulated for cats, and avoid giving them human or dog food.

2. Visit your veterinarian regularly

Your tabby’s health will be in check if you regularly visit the vet. In addition, existing medical conditions without signs and symptoms may be diagnosed and treated early!

Aside from their regular vet schedule, take them to the vet for unusual behavior such as poor appetite, lethargy, wounds, and behavioral changes.

3. Play and exercise daily

Keeping them active is one of the most effective ways to lengthen their lifespans. Playing and exercising with your tabbies will not only benefit them, but it is also an opportunity for you to get fit!

Aside from the positive effects on their joints, muscles, and weight, regularly playing and exercising with your tabbies will make them happy.

4. Keep them indoors

Again, the best way to lengthen your tabby cat lifespan is by keeping them indoors. Like other animals, keeping them indoors greatly influences cat longevity.

Keeping your tabby as an indoor cat allows you to control their diet, exercise, and keep a close watch on their safety. This will greatly increase their chances of reaching up to 20 years.

Senior Tabby Cat Care

Senior tabby cats are those aged 11 and beyond. As they reach the final stage of their life cycle, their health becomes more critical and demanding.

Frequent veterinary visits, a big change in their diet, and very low energy levels are expected once they reach seniority. 

Here are a few tips to care for your senior tabby:

  • Brush your tabby cat’s fur daily
  • Brush their teeth daily
  • Ensure proper nutrition by modifying their diet
  • Monitor your tabby cat’s weight
  • Reduce environmental stress
  • Keep them hydrated
  • Spend more time with your tabby

Similar to humans, caring for a senior tabby cat will require a lot of effort, time, and patience. As their owner, it is your responsibility to be with them until the final stages of their lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Beautiful tabby cat standing in the blooming meadow

Can Tabby Cats Live Past 20 Years?

Tabby cats can live past 20 years, provided that their owners ensure that they get the proper care and nutrition that they need. On average, tabbies live between 10 and 20 years.

What Age Is Considered Old for a Tabby Cat?

Tabby cats are considered old once they reach 11 years old and beyond. For reference, this is equivalent to 60 human years.

Do Tabby Cats Have Health Problems?

Similar to other domestic cats, tabby cats live with the possibility of acquiring and developing health problems. To prevent these health problems and serious complications, regularly visit the vet for check-ups and vaccines.

How Do I Know If My Tabby Cat Is Dying?

You may notice your tabby cat becoming more lethargic, less playful, refusing to move, and wanting to sleep all the time when they are in their final days. This is due to general weakness exhibited by older cats. 

Final Thoughts

Tabby cats live a relatively long life when loved and cared for. With their beautiful markings and affectionate personality, doing so would be an easy task.

On average, tabby cats live between 10 and 20 years of age. In rare cases, giving extra care will even help them live up to 30 years. 

Despite their long average lifespan, they are still prone to health issues that may shorten their life expectancy. A healthy diet, exercise, regular vet visits, and keeping them indoors are the key to their longevity.

If you wish to share anything about the tabby cat’s lifespan, let us know in the comments.

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