A recent article published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery summarizes the results of a large scale feline health and longevity study in the UK. Data from 90 veterinary practices on over 118,000 cats was examined for feline health trends, including longevity and causes of death.
Researchers analyzed cause of death in the cats’ medical records and found that the most common cause of death for cats was trauma, followed by kidney disease, non-specific illness, and cancer-related tumors and lesions. For cats under 5 years of age, the most common cause of death was trauma, followed by viral and respiratory disorders. In cats over 5, the most frequent causes of death were kidney disease, non-specific illness, and different forms of cancer. Researchers suspect that cancer may have been an underlying cause of death in as many as 25% of the cases involving older cats.
The median lifespan of the cats in the study was 14 years. Crossbred cats had longer lifespans than purebred cats (14 years vs. 12 years). The longest-lived purebreds were found to be Birmans and Burmese. The shortest-lived purebreds were Bengals and Abyssinians. The researchers found that obesity was associated with shorter lifespans and neutering was associated with longer lifespans.
85% of cat owners chose euthanasia, suggesting that a majority took an active role in end of life decisions for their cats.
Regarding trauma-related deaths among cats under 5 years of age, researchers note that as many as 90% of cats in the UK have access to the outdoors, a higher percentage than cats in the US, where between 50-60% are allowed outside.
For more on the study, click HERE.