How Long Do Tabby Cats Live? 7 Factors That Affect A Cat’s Lifespan

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How Long Do Tabby Cats Live? 7 Factors That Affect A Cat’s Lifespan 1

How long do tabby cats live? Cat owners and people looking to adopt a cat may have wondered how long tabby cats live. A cat’s life span depends on multiple factors, and the tabby cat’s is no exception.

Pet owners play an important role in helping cats live long, healthy, and happy lives. Find out how you can spend more years with your cat in this article.

What is a Tabby Cat?

Many people think that the Tabby is a breed of the domestic cat. However, the term “tabby” actually refers to the cat’s coat pattern. As such, many domestic cat breeds come in tabby coat variants. For this reason, you’ll find cats described as Manx tabbies, Burmese tabbies, British shorthair tabbies, etc.

While the tabby coat comes in different types, a true tabby cat is characterized by the M-shaped pattern on its forehead. 

The Legendary Tabby Cat

According to legend, the “M” stands for “mau” which is the word for “cat” in Ancient Egypt. Ancient Egypt is not the only one that has legends about cats. The revered animal is also featured in Christian and Muslim folklore. 

 A Muslim legend tells the story of a cat named Muezza. Muezza saved his master Mohammed from a snake. This earned the cat and all his descendant tabby cats the M mark on their forehead as a reward for Muezza’s bravery.

In Christian folklore, it is said that a cat appeared to comfort Jesus when he was a baby. His mother Mary stroked the cat’s head and left an M mark on its forehead.

How Long Do Tabby Cats Live

So How Long Do Tabby Cats Live?

Tabby cats live up to an average of 12 to 15 years. However, some cats live up to 18 and older, particularly when they are well taken care of.

The life expectancy of a domestic cat depends on multiple factors. As tabby cats can be of many different breeds, a cat’s specific breed may also affect how long the cats live.

Common Tabby Cat Breeds and Their Average Lifespan

While the average tabby cat lifespan is 12 to 15 years, their specific breeds can also affect their life expectancy. Here are the average lifespans for each tabby cat breed:

American Shorthair: 15 to 20 years

American Longhair: 15 to 20 years

Persian: 15 to 20 years

Maine Coon: 9 to 13 years

Bengal: 12 to 16 years

Abyssinian: 9 to 15 years

Factors That Affect the Tabby Cat Lifespan

Genetics and Overall Health

Certain illnesses and conditions can be passed down to kittens by their parents. These genetic or inherited conditions affect the lifespan of cats as well as their overall health depending on the type of illness and its severity. 

Early detection and proper veterinary care can help manage such inherited diseases or even treat them. This will prolong a cat’s life and improve her quality of life.

Indoor Cats Vs Outdoor Cats

Indoor cats live longer than outdoor cats live. Being always indoors significantly lowers the risk of external threats to them. The threats that outdoor cats face are other animals, wild predators; fights with other cats or pets; vehicular accidents; interactions with unfriendly humans, and other factors that can contribute to an early death. 

Outdoor cats and feral cats are also at a higher risk of getting infectious diseases as well as parasites. Because they are unsupervised while they are on one of their adventures, they are more likely to eat things they are not supposed to or get stuck in random places. These are just some of the many reasons why they do not have the same average lifespan as an indoor cat.

While indoor tabby cats live longer, they are also less active and are more at risk of gaining excess weight. However, there are many things pet parents can do to prevent this. Their diets can be adjusted to be able to manage the cat’s weight more effectively. 

Indoor Cats Vs Outdoor Cats Average Life Expectancy

Indoor cat: 10 to 15 years

Outdoor cat: 7 years

How Long Do Tabby Cats Live? 7 Factors That Affect A Cat’s Lifespan 2

Desexing (Spaying and Neutering)

Spaying or neutering cats help prevent the development of reproductive conditions such as tumors and cancer. Spaying female cats eliminates the likelihood of getting ovarian and uterine cancer completely. A spayed female cat also has a lower chance of developing mammary cancer. A neutered male cat has no chance of getting testicular cancer.

Another benefit of desexing a female or male cat is it reduces their desire to roam. This increases the tabby cat lifespan by preventing them from getting into fights with other cats or getting injured due to outdoor accidents.

Diet & Hydration

As with any pet, diet greatly affects the health of the cat, longevity, and overall quality of life. High-quality cat food that is nutritionally complete and balanced according to the cat’s age, activity levels, and other dietary requirements help keep them healthy and away from illnesses.

To keep tabby kittens healthy, they should have kitten food until they are about 12 months old. This is due to tabby kittens needing more nutrients and fat to help them grow healthy and strong. 

Tabby adult cats should be given adult cat food as continuing to give them kitten’s food could make them gain excess weight due to the higher calories. Senior cats need food that is made for mature cats as it is designed to be easier to chew and formulated for cats with lower activity levels.

Nutritious food that is free from cheap fillers can also prevent a healthy cat from gaining excess weight which can lead to obese cats with other related conditions. 

Water is an integral part of a cat’s diet. As cats are not usually fond of drinking water, they can be prone to urinary infections and polycystic kidney disease. There is currently no definitive cure for kidney disease in cats. However, it can be managed through medication and dietary therapies.

Cats must be given access to fresh, clean water at all times. Drinking fountains help encourage them to drink more. Giving them wet cat food also adds more hydration to their diets.


Giving them enough exercise can help keep them fit and promote healthy joints and muscles. Obesity can lead to multiple health problems such as heart disease, joint pain, hypertension, and many others. 

An indoor cat can be given a good amount of exercise with the help of toys. Give them around 10-15 minutes of play at a time with laser toys, wands, teasers, and chasers. 

Playtime with their owners not only gives them physical activity but also gives them mental stimulation and enjoyment. This prevents depression and boredom which can lead to health or behavioral issues.

Getting them cat towers or a cat perch will encourage them to climb and jump, as well as scratch their tower instead of things like furniture and walls.

Cats can also be trained to walk on a leash just like a dog. Walking in safe areas can give them a good amount of exercise as well as mental stimulation.

How Long Do Tabby Cats Live? 7 Factors That Affect A Cat’s Lifespan 3

Veterinary/ Medical Care

Regular vet checkups can help cat owners give what their tabby cats need. Vets can not only diagnose illnesses at their early stages, but they can provide effective prevention methods or treatments for various diseases.

Vets can diagnose and formulate treatment plans for existing conditions. They can also help you with other concerns such as behavioral issues, nutrition, exercise, etc. Veterinary care is the reason why pets have a much longer average lifespan than wild cats.  

Vaccinations, flea, and worming treatments also prevent many diseases, internal, and external parasites. Supplements can also promote healthy joints, skin, coat, and immune system.


Some cat breeds are known to have longer lifespans than others. There are certain genetic conditions that some breeds are at a higher risk of getting compared to others. For this reason, it is believed that mixed-breed cats have a higher life expectancy than some purebred cats. 

Responsible breeding and selective breeding can help minimize the risk of passing down genetic conditions to kittens. 

The tabby pattern appears in many different breeds. The specific tabby cat’s breed can affect its life expectancy as genetics play a significant role in the cat’s overall health and the probability of developing certain illnesses.

How To Help Your Cats Live Longer, Healthier Lives

Complete and Balanced Diet

Give your pet cat high-quality food that is formulated for her life stage and activity levels. Give your cat wet food and fresh, clean water. A healthy diet can strengthen and protect their immune systems against diseases and other health conditions, thus helping tabby cats live longer.

Routine Vet Checks

Take your cat to the vet for a once or twice yearly checkup, and whenever necessary. Don’t hesitate to ask your vet questions, not just about your cat’s health, but also about her overall wellbeing. This includes behavioral issues, grooming, or any recommended activities for your cat.

Vaccines, Parasite Treatment

Even if your cats stay indoors, vaccines can greatly reduce the risk of contracting various diseases that can otherwise be fatal to your cat. 

A tabby kitten is usually born with intestinal worms just like any other kitten. Kittens can also become infected soon after birth as the worms can be passed down from their mother through the milk. A tabby kitten should be de-wormed at two, four, six, eight, and twelve weeks of age.

Flea and worm treatments can be purchased at pet shops as well as vet offices. These can prevent your cat from getting infected with parasite-borne diseases. Treatment and prevention also ensure your cat absorbs most of the nutrients in her food instead of being consumed by intestinal parasites.

Keep Them Indoors

Keeping them safe and warm in the comfort of your home can increase your tabby cat’s lifespan significantly. However, if your outdoor cat just can’t be stopped from going on adventures, make sure he or she has a dry and warm outdoor shelter to go home to at night.

Providing a safe cat enclosure can allow cats to get a taste of the outdoors in a safe setting. 

Tags and Microchipping

Engraved pet tags and microchips can help save your pet’s life if they get lost. Pet tags with the cat’s name and your phone number engraved are handy as whoever finds them can simply call you straight away without having to go to a vet to scan for a microchip.


Keep your cat fit and active. Increase playtime or take walks (if possible). Ask your vet for any exercise recommendations for your cat.

Mental Stimulation

Give your cat interactive toys or food puzzles to provide mental stimulation. Engage in playtime with your cat. Young cats may have more energy for extra playtime, but older kitties can benefit from physical activities. 

This can also serve as a bonding time between you and your cat – something that makes most cats feel loved and happy. 

How Long Do Tabby Cats Live? 7 Factors That Affect A Cat’s Lifespan 4

More About Tabby Cats

Origin of the Name “Tabby”

The term “tabby” is said to be derived from “atabi” – a patterned silk taffeta made in Attabiah in the Middle East. Atabi has a wavy striped pattern that is similar to that of a type of cat that was called “tiger cat”. 

In the 1600s, atabi silk was brought to Britain and it was not long before the word “tabi” was used to describe cats with similar wavy stripes. Eventually, “tabi” evolved to become “tabby”. 

Today, the silk that inspired still exists but the term tabby is widely associated with domestic cats globally.

Types of Tabby Cats

While the name is inspired by silk that features wavy stripes, tabby cats actually come in many different patterns.

Mackerel Tabby Cat

The mackerel tabby has narrow stripes all over its body. It is called “mackerel” due to the pattern’s resemblance to a fish skeleton. These stripes can be continuous or broken into shorter stripes or spots, especially on the flanks and stomach.

Mackerel tabby cats typically have three or five stripes that form an M-shaped pattern on their foreheads. They also usually have dark lines that start from the corners of their eyes. The mackerel is the most common pattern among tabbies.

The Classic Tabby Cat

The classic tabby has broader stripes compared to the mackerel tabby. The thicker lines form swirls or circular patterns. They are also called marbled tabbies due to their pattern’s similarity to a marble cake. 

These tabbies also have a distinctive mark on each side of the cat’s body that resembles a bullseye. Like other tabbies, the classic tabby also has an M on its forehead.

The Spotty or Spotted Tabby Cat

The spotted tabby cat looks quite similar to the mackerel tabby. But instead of having long, narrow stripes, it looks as though the stripes were broken into much shorter lines or spots.

Aside from the trademark M on their foreheads, spotty or spotted tabby cats commonly have a faint necklace line as well.

The Ticked Tabby Cat

Ticked tabby cats have striped hairs instead of distinct stripes on their coat. The stripes are barely visible on the cat’s fur, but can still be seen on the legs, face, belly, and tail. Despite their stripes appearing more sand-like than long lines, the M-shaped pattern on their foreheads is formed by dark lines and is very visible.

Some ticked tabbies have a long dark line that runs along the spine. This is usually found in ticked tabbies who also carry a mackerel or classic tabby gene.

How Long Do Tabby Cats Live? 7 Factors That Affect A Cat’s Lifespan 5

Other Coat Pattern Variations

The Tortie-tabby/ Torbie

A tortie-tabby or torbie is a tortoiseshell cat with tabby patterns. Tortoiseshell cats or torties are cats of any breed that has a tri-color coat pattern that resembles that of a tortoise shell. They have patches of red and black in various shades, as well as some white patches.

A torbie has the trademark tortoiseshell patches as well as tabby cat markings like those found in mackerel, classic, spotted, and ticked tabby cats.

The Caliby

A caliby is a variation of the calico cat that has tabby cat patterns. Calico cats are domestic cats that are about 25% to 75% white with patches of orange and black.

Caliby cats have the same patches as a calico cat but with tabby markings such as stripes or spots. 

The Orange Tabby 

The orange tabby cat, also known as the ginger or red tabby cat is a color variation of tabbies. Orange tabby cats can be mackerel, classic, ticked, or spotted.

The orange or ginger coat color is a recessive gene found on the X chromosome. Because female cats have XX chromosomes and males have XY, both parents must carry the recessive gene to be able to pass it down to female kittens. Male kittens only need their mother to carry the gene to inherit the trait. Due to this, 80% of orange tabbies are male cats.

Cats That Lived the Longest

Here is a list of cats that lived remarkably long lives.

  • Creme Puff: A female tabby mix that lived up to 38 years and 3 days. She was the oldest cat ever recorded, according to the 2010 edition of Guinness World Records. One lucky pet parent named Jake Perry was the owner of Creme Puff and the sixth oldest cat ever known named Granpa Rexs Allen.
  • Baby: born in 1970, Baby lived until he was 38 years old.
  • Puss: a tabby cat from the United Kingdom who lived till he was 36.
  • Great Grandma Wad: Born in Chanthaburi, Thailand in 1987, Great Grandma Wad is a strong contender for the title of World’s Longest Living Cat. Her owner Wanna Kodkarisa keeps her healthy with regular vet visits and a diet of high-quality soft food. She is currently about 35 years old.
  • Ma: a female tabby named Ma was born in 1923 in the UK. She died in 1957 at 34 years and 5 months of age.
  • Grandpa Rexs Allen: also owned by Jake Perry of Texas, Grandpa Rexs Allen was a Sphynx Devon Rex who formerly held the record of oldest cat ever. Born in 1964, he died at the age of 34 years and 2 months in 1998.
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Tabby cats have captured the hearts of many for centuries. In fact, Cicero mentions the tabby’s M-shaped forehead pattern in his first century BCE poem “De consulatu suo”. Done with its folklore-inspiring days, today the tabby cat is more popular than ever. 

With millions of videos on the internet starring tabby cats, it is no wonder that they are some of the most favored pets in the world. As pet parents, we would love to have our feline friend around for the rest of our lives. However, while their lifespan is not as long as ours, there are many ways we can help them have long, happy, and healthy lives.

Vets are the best experts to advise us on how we can bring out the best in our cats. But as the owners, it is our responsibility to keep them safe from harm and give them a happy home.

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