My cat Minx is 14. The oldest cat I have seen is 19, which was my Grandmother’s cat Holly.
I wouldn’t be so sure. According to a lot of what I’ve been reading, most commercial non-organic pet foods contain phenobenitol, the drug commonly used to put animals “to sleep.” Euthanized animals are commonly ground up into pet food, and over time the chemical can build up in your pet’s system.
God forbid that you should ever have to put your pet to sleep, but if enough of this chemical has been absorbed into its system, the animal could suffer. Sodium phenobarbital is not listed on the ingredients of the pet food bag, because it was not added by the pet food company.
What is intentionally added is bad enough. According to this cite “The preservatives you might find listed on the bag include ethoxyquin, BHA and BHT. Ethoxyquin is regulated as a pesticide and cannot be added to human food, It is listed and identified as a hazardous chemical by OSHA. (Manufactured by the chemical giant, Monsanto, it is marked POISON when put into containers.) BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are chemical antioxidants. They are used to prevent the fatty contents of food from becoming rancid as they sit in warehouses or store shelves. These chemicals are under present inquiry following animal tests showing adverse kidney, liver, reproductive, brain, behavioral, and allergic reactions. They are both banned in some European countries. Although the FDA has removed these preservatives from the GRAS list – Generally Regarded As Safe – their continued use is permitted pending clarification of their health effects.”
This is what the FDA has to say about phenobarbital.
Another cite about slaughterhouses and pet foods.
This one is specifically about cat foods.
I knew a girl that was 23 and had a cat that her parents found full grown before she was born. Just based on the looks of that thing I absolutely cannot imagine a cat living to be 40.
As for the GQ answer I think scotth’s post makes it pretty cut and dry. Add that to the fact that the person claiming this stood to profit from the claim and it makes a pretty good case for the average lifespan of a cat never being anywhere near 40 years. And most definately not in the 19 century.