The 10 Longest Living Cat Breeds

Longest Living Cat Breeds - A graying brown older cat snoozes in a baby blue color cat bed.
Jena Ardell

There’s no magic potion that keeps our pets alive forever. However, some cat breeds have been known to live well into their 20s! According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest recorded cat lived to be 38 years old. Currently, the oldest living cat is Flossie, a 27-year-old tortoise shell female who is partially blind and deaf. In human years, she’s about 120. While there’s no measurable common denominator among the longest living cat breeds, they tend to be smart, social creatures who love to love their humans.

How long do cats live?

UC Davis Veterinary Medicine says indoor cats live 10 to 15 years on average. Fremont Veterinary Clinic says 12 to 18 years. Most vets will tell you to expect 15 years out of your cat, though factors like diet, exercise and disease can dramatically increase or decrease your cat’s longevity. The most significant factor in determining life expectancy is whether your cat lives indoors or outdoors. Outdoor cats live much shorter lives due to the many risks they face outside (think: cars, weed killer, coyotes).

Breed can help you estimate your cat’s life expectancy. Some breeds, for whatever reason, live longer than others. Unlike canines, who tend to live longer the smaller they are, there’s no glaring kitty trait we can point to that leads to long life. However, we’ve noticed that the breeds on our list who tend to last until their late teens and early twenties are almost exclusively outgoing, social felines who thrive on human connection. A little love goes a long way with cats when it comes to keeping them alive!

How to help your cat live longer

Like dogs, cats age faster than humans. Healthy Paws Pet Insurance says once your cat turns two, they’ve aged about as much as a 24-year-old human. After that, they age “four cat years for every calendar year.” So, a 15-year-old cat is middle aged and a 20-year-old cat is definitely a senior. They’ll require extra care as they get older, and it helps to set them up for success early. 

If you’re hoping to extend your cat’s life beyond their estimated life expectancy, focus on a healthy diet and plenty of physical activity. Veterinarians overwhelmingly credit obesity in cats with the onset of serious diseases like kidney failure, diabetes and cancer. Feline diets high in protein and low in grains are ideal - not only because they appeal to feline instincts (cats are predators and carnivores) but because it helps keep them lean.

Exercise is also beneficial for cats. This doesn’t mean letting them out into the yard so they can run in circles (though running up and down the hallway or stairs could be a great way to burn excess energy!). Physical activity could be as simple as playing with a feather wand or chasing a toy mouse around the bedroom. It’s all about what your cat enjoys and which activities will keep them moving a little bit each day.

Finally, become an expert in your cat’s behavior and habits. Felines are notoriously good at hiding pain and discomfort. (My own cat had bladder stones and didn’t make a peep! We only found out because of Pretty Litter.) Checking what’s going on in their litter boxes and keeping tabs on any unusual behavior shifts can alert you to internal problems before they do too much damage.

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Longest Living Cat Breeds - A gray striped American Shorthair cat with yellow eyes looks at the camera while lounging in a light blue basket.

1. American Shorthair

  • Height: 9-11 inches
  • Weight: 6-15 pounds
  • Personality: Loyal, social
  • Coat: Short, thick
  • Color: Variety of colors and patterns
  • Life Expectancy: 15-20 years

The Cat Fanciers Association says American Shorthair cats are known for their “longevity, robust health, good looks, sweet personality, and amiability.” Perhaps their key to long life is this sweet, friendly approach! Said to have come to America alongside European settlers on the Mayflower, these kitties may benefit from interactive playtime that mimics rat-catching (their job in the early days).

Longest Living Cat Breeds - A cream Balinese cat with brown markings on the face and ears as well as blue eyes looks up at the camera. It sits in front of a blue background.

2. Balinese

  • Height: 8-11 inches
  • Weight: 5-15 pounds
  • Personality: Curious, loving
  • Coat: Long
  • Color: Brown, red, tan, or cream with dark brown or black points
  • Life Expectancy: 10-20 years

Balinese cats are members of the Siamese breed group, a collection known for its longevity. They quickly bond with their family members and display great affection for their people. Get ready for a talkative cat if you go with a Balinese! Chirping, meowing and announcing themselves whenever they enter a room (usually right on your heels) happens constantly.

Longest Living Cat Breeds - A small brown Burmese cat with yellow eyes lies on its back on a beige blanket while a hand scratches its belly.

3. Burmese

  • Height: 9-13 inches
  • Weight: 8-15 pounds
  • Personality: Outgoing, charming
  • Coat: Short
  • Color: Blue, grey, brown, tan
  • Life Expectancy: 10-17 years

Burmese cats can live well into their late teens if provided with proper care. They are very smart cats and enjoy learning new things, whether you teach them tricks or challenge them with treat puzzles. It’s possible their longevity comes from early breeding between a small, brown cat and a Siamese, a pairing that eventually helped develop today’s Burmese.

Longest Living Cat Breeds - A gray Nebelung with green eyes poses for a photograph.
Abel Garcia/Getty Images

4. Nebelung

  • Height: 9-13 inches
  • Weight: 10-15 pounds
  • Personality: Affectionate, playful
  • Coat: Medium to Long
  • Color: Blue with silver
  • Life Expectancy: 11-16+ years

Relatives of the Russian Blue, these cats are a gorgeous shade of blue-gray with silver tips. Though affectionate and playful, they may not do well in households with lots of kids or other pets (especially young Nebelungs who need time to adjust to new homes). They’re a bit more shy than other breeds on this list, so providing lots of comforting hiding spots is key to a happy Nebelung.

Longest Living Cat Breeds - An older looking brown Oriental Shorthair with yellow eyes hunches over on a gray surface and looks up toward the camera.

5. Oriental Shorthair

  • Height: 9-11 inches
  • Weight: 5-10 pounds
  • Personality: Smart, Affectionate
  • Coat: Short, smooth
  • Color: Hundreds of versions, often tortoiseshell or tabby coloration
  • Life Expectancy: 10-20+ years

Another member of the Siamese breed group, Oriental Shorthair cats can live well up to 20 or more years. They may not fully mature until two years old, but they’ll be chatty and social from day one. Don’t try to ignore your Oriental Shorthair! To live their best lives, they need to be included in activities and given plenty of social attention and interaction.

Longest Living Cat Breeds - A while Ragdoll cat with blue eyes and gray markings sits on a white cushion with its paws crossed.

6. Ragdoll

  • Height: 9-11 inches
  • Weight: 10-15 pounds (females), 15-20 pounds (males)
  • Personality: Sweet, patient
  • Coat: Long, soft
  • Color: White bodies, pointed markings
  • Life Expectancy: 13-18 years

According to The International Cat Association (TICA), Ragdoll cats can easily reach their mid- to high-teens, but true life expectancy “varies on factors such as genetics and care.” If you’re able to find out more about your Ragdoll’s parents or relatives, it could give you a glimpse into their future. Otherwise, focus on providing them with lots of fun towers to lounge on and laps to sit on (they are very laid back and thrive on chill time with you).

Longest Living Cat Breeds - A gray Russian Blue cat lays on a blue blanket with green and purple accents. The shadows from window shades can be seen on the cat.

7. Russian Blue

  • Height: 9-11 inches
  • Weight: 7-15 pounds
  • Personality: Gentle, reserved
  • Coat: Short, dense
  • Color: Gray, blue
  • Life Expectancy: 10-20+ years

TICA says Russian Blues have been known to live up to 25 years, though their typical life expectancy is 10 to 20 years. Playful and loving, these kitties need tons of affection and cuddle time with you, but can handle being alone pretty well (unlike Siamese breed group members). Don’t let their intelligence go to waste! Try teaching them tricks to keep them engaged.

Longest Living Cat Breeds - A Savannah cat with a leopard like coat and brown eyes lays on a colorful blanket and looks into the camera.

8. Savannah

  • Height: 10-17 inches
  • Weight: 11-20 pounds (females), 13-23 pounds (males)
  • Personality: Energetic, outgoing
  • Coat: Short- to medium-length, coarse
  • Color: Black and brown spotted
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15+ years

These large, spotted cats can easily live beyond the average 15-year life span if provided with the proper environment and diet. Descended from African Servals, Savannah cats need lots of space in which to explore, climb and burn energy. They’re not for the faint of heart (or novice cat owners), so research this breed carefully before bringing one home.

Longest Living Cat Breeds - A cream color Siamese cat with brown markings on its face, ears, and paws sits and poses for a photograph. It has blue-ish eyes and appears to be outside.

9. Siamese

  • Height: 8-12 inches
  • Weight: 5-12 pounds
  • Personality: Social, athletic
  • Coat: Short
  • Color: Cream or fawn with brown or black points
  • Life Expectancy: 10-20+ years

Our final member of the Siamese breed group! Again, expect social, talkative and loving behavior from these cats. Leaving Siamese cats - and any in this breed group - alone for long stretches of time isn’t wise. They get along swimmingly with other cats, dogs and kiddos, so consider them a great pet option for a big, loving family.

Longest Living Cat Breeds - A cream and tortoise pattern Singapura cat with green eyes looks at the camera. Its wrapped in a blue blanket.

10. Singapura

  • Height: 6-8 inches
  • Weight: 5-8 pounds
  • Personality: Extroverted, energetic
  • Coat: Short
  • Color: Tabby coloration, tans and browns
  • Life Expectancy: 11-18 years

The Singapura hails from Singapore and is one of the world’s smallest cat breeds. They are highly active and friendly, preferring an afternoon playing with their favorite friends to sleeping the day away. Chances are your Singapura will find a way into the tiniest nooks in your home, so providing them with ample climbing space is a good idea.

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Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...