The domestic shorthair cat is the backbone of the feline population in many countries. The term applies to any cat with short hair and no specific pedigree. The term can also cover some mixed-breed cats, ones that have cross-bred with cats like the British Shorthair. The average lifespan of a domestic shorthair is about 13 years, although they can live much longer. With proper care, a very sturdy domestic shorthair can live well into the late teens or even 20s. Much depends on the kind of care a cat receives.
The domestic shorthair cat lifespan is around 12-14 years, although they can live for longer. You can prolong your domestic shorthair cat’s lifespan through vaccinations, regular vet check-ups, good nutrition, early de-sexing and by keeping them indoors. Domestic cats do not have any breed-specific conditions but they can suffer from common feline ailments, which should be treated promptly.
You’ve arrived on this page because you have questions about domestic shorthair cats. How long do domestic shorthair cats usually live? Can they live for a long time? What should I do to make sure my domestic shorthair cat lives a healthy life? How can I prolong my domestic shorthair’s life? Should I have my domestic shorthair spayed or neutered? In this article, I’ll be answering all of these questions. You’ll discover how long domestic shorthair cat usually live and how to ensure that your cat has a long, enjoyable life. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.
Domestic Shorthair Cat Lifespan
According to most reliable resources, the average lifespan of a domestic shorthair cat is around 13 years. Some resources are more specific, listing 12 to 14 years. In fact, lifespans can vary significantly. Unlike pedigree breeds like the American Shorthair or British Shorthair, it’s hard to make specific predictions about domestic shorthairs. Much depends on how the cat is looked after, from the beginning of their lives through to their senior years.
Good care starts in kittenhood. Kittens should stay with their mother until they’re at least 12 weeks old, preferably sixteen. They should be spayed or neutered as soon as they’re big enough. Early de-sexing may be performed when the cat is as young as six to eight weeks — common among breeders, who don’t want to hand over an entire cat. Many vets prefer to wait until the cat is around five months old. If you do wait, you will need to make absolutely certain that male and female cats are kept separate once they are old enough to breed. For females, this is around four months.
Unwanted kittens are just one of the possible problems that entire cats may face. Neutering toms reduces aggression. It also lowers the likelihood of spraying, destructive behaviour, escape attempts and loud vocalisations. For females, it’s vital that they are spayed as early as your vet thinks best. Spaying a queen cat before her first heat virtually eliminates the risk of mammary cancer, as well as making ovarian and uterine cancers impossible. It also prevents other medical conditions that affect the ovaries and womb. De-sexing is inexpensive, and it certainly costs less than treating health conditions down the line.
Kittens should receive their scheduled vaccinations in order to prevent disease. All these vaccines are well-tested, safe and effective. Your vet should look over the kittens shortly after you get them to make sure they’re healthy and have no parasites or infections.
Caring For Young Domestic Cats
Kittens require proper nutrition. They’re very active and will be doing a lot of growing. You will usually be taking possession of kittens after they’re weaned. If for some reason you’re rearing them yourself, you should start them on a little solid food once they have all their teeth. Begin by mashing up small amounts of good quality cat food with kitten milk and offering small portions to the kitten.
Don’t allow kittens to overeat, as this will make them sick. You don’t need to worry about their weight at this point. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an obese kitten. They burn off any extra calories through play.
I’m not completely sold on kitten food formulas. There’s nothing wrong with them — I’m just not sure they’re actually necessary. All my kittens have done just fine on adult cat food, mashed up to make it easier for them to eat. If you want to offer kitten food, though, that’s fine. As long as the food is grain-free and contains plenty of good quality protein, your kitten should do well.
Play with your young cats as much as possible. The exercise will help them develop their muscles and stimulate their minds. If you encourage them to be active now, they’ll slow down less as they get older. Play will also produce a more sociable adult.
Indoor or Outdoor?
I am a rather hard-nose proponent of an indoor-only lifestyle for all cats. I’m aware of all the arguments for indoor-outdoor cats. Outdoors is more natural; cats are happier if thy can roam freely; going outside provides stimulation and exercise; and so on and so forth. They’ll argue that their cats are chipped and equipped with collars and bells, so they can easily be tracked down and returned if they get lost.
While all this may be true, the great outdoors is full of hazards for any cat. Traffic often kills cats. They can get into unsecured outbuildings and become trapped. There are dogs, other cats, and wild predators such as foxes that can harm cats.
Humans also represent a threat. While a domestic shorthair isn’t at risk of money-related kidnappings as a pedigree cat might be, they can still be scooped up by busybodies who want to re-home the “stray” or who simply want to make a cat owner miserable.
There are also other animals that should concern you. While cats might be docile and amicable at home, when they’re outside in the world their predatory instincts can take over. Domestic cats kill a positively terrifying amount of wildlife every year. I’d rather mine not add to the body count.
The bottom line is that if you want a long life for your cat, that life should be lived indoors. You can compromise with a secure enclosure or walks on a lead.
Caring For Your Domestic Shorthair
Cats in general need a certain amount of grooming to keep their coats healthy. Shorthair cats don’t need much — just the occasional brush or comb session to get rid of loose fur and dead skin. Check for fleas and other parasites. Check your pet’s eyes, nose and the inside of her ears to make sure there’s no inflammation or discharge.
Since your cat will be living indoors, the environment should be stimulating and congenial. Provide safe, comfortable spots where your cat can “hide” while she observes what’s going on. Cat habitats, enclosed beds, wide padded shelves where they can perch — all these are ideal. Cat trees are fantastic. Your cat will also need a good scratching pole; this isn’t just to prevent them from clawing your furniture, but is important for your cat’s well-being. Scratching keeps cat’s claws from becoming ingrown and allows them to properly stretch tendons and muscles.
Carry on playing with your cat as she gets older. Cats who don’t get this kind of engagement can develop a range of problems. Some become lethargic. Others can become anxious and irritable, more prone to destructiveness, excessive vocalisations and other problematic behaviours.
Temperaments can vary wildly among domestic shorthairs. As a rule, though, your cat will tend to slow down once they reach their second year. It’s important that you keep up the play sessions anyway. Engaging your cat’s instinct to chase and pounce will help them stay fit through exercise.
Yearly vet visits are important, increasingly so as your cat gets older. If you see any major changes in your cat’s personality, behaviour or litter-box habits, report these to your vet. They may be a sign that your cat is unwell. Early intervention is important in managing some conditions, so don’t hesitate to get your domestic shorthair check out if something isn’t right.