The average lifespan of a domestic cat is 15 years these days, while the average lifespan of a dog is 13 years. We’ve known for a long time that cats generally live longer than dogs, but what we didn’t know until recently is just why that is, and it’s a little confusing because the general trend is that the larger the animal, the longer it lives. Most dogs are bigger than cats, and don’t live as long. Why do cats live longer than dogs?
If you’re curious like me, you’ve wondered why cats live longer than dogs many times. You might have cats and dogs and wondered that, or, like me, you’ve had small pets, too, like rabbits, and figured it out on your own that size and lifespan seemed to be connected. Regardless, I’ve been curious about this for awhile, as one of our cats, Gizmo, approaches the age of 15.
There’s research that explains why cats live longer than dogs
Research suggests that cats live longer than dogs because of their solitary nature. Dogs are pack animals. They live in groups, they travel in groups, they raise their young in groups. Cats, by contrast, live in colonies in some places, but in the true wild, prefer solitude. That cuts down on the spread of disease, resulting in a longer lifespan.
Another factor is cats’ sharp claws and natural agility. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I bear the scars of cats that were unhappy with me for whatever reason. I know what their claws and teeth do, and I’m pretty sure that you do, too.
Compare their teeth and claws to what dogs have. Dogs’ teeth and jaws are frightening and will cause considerable injury. They don’t have the needle-sharp claws that cats do, however; their natural defenses are limited to what they can do with their powerful jaws. Cats’ one additional defense makes them formidable enemies, and is a contributing factor to why cats live longer than dogs.
Why do pet cats live longer than pet dogs?
None of that really explains why house cats live longer than domestic dogs, though. The factor there may be that the breeding we’ve done with dogs, compared to what we haven’t done with cats, has shortened the lifespan of dogs. Dogs have been domesticated far longer than cats, and their breeds are far more disparate than cats.
When it comes to cat breeds, we’ve only been actively breeding for certain traits in cats for a little more than a century. They’ve only been domesticated for about 8,000 years, compared to the 30,000 or so for dogs. What we’ve done with dogs could easily contribute to why cats live longer than dogs, because certain dog breeds are prone to certain health problems.
So there are several reasons why cats live longer than dogs, despite the fact that most dogs are bigger than most domestic cats. As far as nature goes, it’s a bit of an anomaly, but makes some sense when you look at the reasons for it.