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-   -   How many cats of a certain age? (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=877073)

whc.03grady 06-12-2019 03:29 PM

How many cats of a certain age?
 
I realize any answers will be speculation and not exact, but this board is good for well-reasoned speculation.

My family had a female house cat (Felis catus) who lived to be about four months shy of 22 years old. Not nearly Guinness territory of course, but still pretty old. Our vet said she was the oldest cat they had on record.

Which got me thinking, when she died, she was one of how many 21 year-old or older cats? At any given time, how many house cats 20 and older, 21 and older, 22 and older, etc., are there in the world?

engineer_comp_geek 06-12-2019 03:39 PM

I found this chart, which is for a study done of cats in England. I imagine that cat longevity in other countries is similar.
http://skeptvet.com/Blog/wp-content/...vity-chart.jpg

The chart shows a definite bell curve centered around 16 to 17 years. The chart is non-zero all the way out to 27 years though.

Poking around elsewhere, it seems that the record goes to a cat named Creme Puff, who lived to the remarkable age of 38.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creme_Puff_%28cat%29

DPRK 06-12-2019 03:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by whc.03grady (Post 21694830)
I realize any answers will be speculation and not exact, but this board is good for well-reasoned speculation.

My family had a female house cat (Felis catus) who lived to be about four months shy of 22 years old. Not nearly Guinness territory of course, but still pretty old. Our vet said she was the oldest cat they had on record.

Which got me thinking, when she died, she was one of how many 21 year-old or older cats? At any given time, how many house cats 20 and older, 21 and older, 22 and older, etc., are there in the world?

I happen to know a guy whose cat lived a bit over 30 years, and more than one person with a cat over 20 years old. The difference seems to be people taking care of domestic cats at home, rather than them being left to fend for themselves. This graph based on approximately randomly-selected 4000 cats in the UK appears to show a somewhat bell-shaped falloff of surviving cats following a peak at age 16, but I cannot make out the precise statistics from the graph (percentage at age 20, 21, 22, etc), though the data must be available online somewhere.

ETA I see someone already posted the same chart. It's good enough to get an approximate idea, though it only has data up to 26 years (so none of the 4009 random cats lived to age 27, which should give you a statistical indication of how common that is).

thorny locust 06-12-2019 04:06 PM

IME over 20 is unusual though far from unheard of even if well taken care of, but well taken care of cats very often make it to between 16 and 18. And I've personally lived with two who made it significantly into their twenties, though exact age was unknown; as well as one for whom exact age is known who made it to 19 years 5 months.

That doesn't really answer the OP, though; except to indicate that the number who are over 20 at any given time, while a small percentage, is probably quite a few cats.

bob++ 06-12-2019 04:34 PM

There must be a great many cats around whose age is not known - at least not for sure.

DPRK 06-12-2019 04:43 PM

The graph tells us that something like 4-5 percent of domestic cats live at least 20 years, but it does not indicate the age distribution of living cats (can we work anything out, perhaps making certain mortality simplifications/assumptions?) Cf for humans, life expectancy at birth varies from under 50 to over 80 depending on the country, but the median age of humans varies from about 15 to just over 40.

Quote:

Originally Posted by bob++ (Post 21694927)
There must be a great many cats around whose age is not known - at least not for sure.

Yes, of course. The study cited above specifically says the sample was of cats brought by their owners to veterinary practices in central and south-east England, not random stray cats.

Chronos 06-13-2019 11:50 AM

Of course, even some pet cats with loving, caring owners will have uncertain ages, because some of them were strays before being adopted.

kayaker 06-13-2019 12:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek (Post 21694843)
I found this chart, which is for a study done of cats in England. I imagine that cat longevity in other countries is similar.
http://skeptvet.com/Blog/wp-content/...vity-chart.jpg

(bolding mine)

I question your premise. Cat ownership varies greatly between the UK and US. In the UK pet insurance is the norm, while it is still a rarity in the US. In the UK it is assumed a pet cat will have access to the outdoors, while in the US it is considered more correct to keep a cat indoors. These differences may impact longevity.

Here're some things to consider.

thorny locust 06-13-2019 03:41 PM

kayaker, I'm sure it depends on just where you are, but I'm going to quibble with some things in that article.

There are rural places in the USA in which letting cats out of doors is quite common. (There are also people who don't let their cats indoors at all, but expect them to live in the barn or at most be allowed into a porch -- while some of these cats are close to feral, others get significant care from their humans.)

Declawing cats was IME never more than moderately common in the USA, and has become considerably less so, to the point of being outlawed in some places.

While some people do dress up their cats, and it is indeed possible to buy costumes intended for cats to wear, I've never been anywhere where this was common behavior. (I haven't been everywhere, of course.) Ditto giving cats routine baths. Or shaving them in the summer -- I'm not saying that never happens, but I certainly wouldn't call it "a common sight in America." I've never seen a shaved cat, except for medical reasons.

scabpicker 06-13-2019 11:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chronos (Post 21696294)
Of course, even some pet cats with loving, caring owners will have uncertain ages, because some of them were strays before being adopted.

Yep, I had a cat of uncertain age pass away not too many years ago. We figure he was a bit over a year old when he adopted my wife, and about 15 when he died, but who really knows?

kayaker 06-14-2019 06:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thorny locust (Post 21696773)
kayaker, I'm sure it depends on just where you are, but I'm going to quibble with some things in that article.

The article was just to point out that differences exist and I don't think comparison of UK and US feline populations is necessarily valid. They are unique populations. In the UK the British Shorthair is a common breed with its own medical peculiarities, while in the US that breed is a rarity.

DPRK 06-14-2019 09:06 PM

The raw data used in that article is only available to registered users. So, based on only the crude histogram linked above, I did some eyeballin' and guesstimation and assumption, and it looks like, at least between the ages of 5 and 20, the mortality rate is doubling approximately every 3 years. Does that sound right? (I have a Gompertz–Makeham model in mind.) So around age 10 the population will only drop by a factor of 1.06 in a year, but at age 20 the ratio is up to 1.8, and at age 25 only 1/7 of the cats will make it another year (if we extrapolate the trend)?? Does that make any kind of sense at all, or would there be a decrease in mortality rate once a cat hits 20+?

DPRK 06-15-2019 01:59 PM

OK, that hacked-up Gompertz model looks like it cannot be right, since, while it seems to give more or less the right number of cats living past age 20 (which was how it was fitted), it predicts that only one in 4 billion cats will live to 30.


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