Mongrel, tabby, from Britain: a portrait of a long-lived cat
The average life expectancy of a domestic cat is 14 years. But like among humans among cats there are amazing long-livers. The oldest cat in the world, named Cream Puff, whose age was officially recorded by the Guinness Book of Records lived for 38 years. Unofficially this status holder is Lucy a cat from the UK who died in 2011 at the age of 39. We made a list of other 23 cats who have surprised their owners by long-living and raised the question whether they have something common.
For sure these cats were very lucky with the owners who provided them with good keeping. But life expectancy, especially such extraordinary, is also a matter of genetics. So we compared record-holders by features that are obviously encoded in DNA: sex, breed (for purebred cats) and colour.
We would like to note that a similar rating in english “Wikipedia” contains 38 cats. We did a careful selection and left only cats with proven track records, mentioned in other media. Now the youngest of them is 20 years old.
In humans women traditionally live longer than men. The sex differences affect the life expectancy of cats not so much. Among 23 long-livers 12 were females, 10 were males and one was intersex. A cat named Whiskey (1985–2015) from the UK was born with a double set of internal genitalia (testes and ovaries). The operation carried over in childhood however did not prevent him from living 30 years and 13 days.
It is known that purebred pets under the same conditions live shorter life than mongrels. Long-lived cats confirm this. Of the entire list only 4 cats turned out to be representatives of pure breeds.
Scooter (1986–2016), the Siamese cat from Texas (USA), lived 30 years. Maine Coon named Boo (b.1994) from New Zealand celebrated the 23rd Birthday. Hortense (b.1996), the Scottish Folded cat from Canada, overcame the mark of 21 years. And Chloe (р.1997), the British short-haired from UK, became the youngest in the rating celebrated the 20th anniversary. Granpa Rexs Allen (1964–1998) from USA climbed above all of them in the list. He lived 34 years and 2 months. Grandpa was a crossbreed: a part Sphynx, part Devon Rex. The other сats in the list were mongrel.
The most common colour among long-lived cats is tabby. It’s 5 out of 23. This colour in cats is considered “wild” or original. The wild relatives of domestic cats wear this colour. The second place was shared by tortoiseshell cats which normally are only females and spotted white-brown cats. In the list there are 3 of them. In the third place (2 cats each) black and blue colour.
Local populations of cats can be quite different genetically. Let’s look where cats live longer life.
Most common countries in the list are UK and USA: 12 and 7 cats respectively. It is difficult to say whether British and American cats are actually healthier. Most likely residents of the Britain and the US just appreciate their pets (or public attention) so much that on the cat’s 20th anniversary they immediately call journalists. Many thanks. Currently media coverage is the only source of data about cat extraordinary longevity.
This data is not enough to understand if long-lived cats have something common at the genetic level. It is necessary to collect complete data on long-lived pets including their genetic samples into consolidated database. It will make this data available for scientists from around the world. And this is the goal for HealthyTail.