a tabby cat sleeping

How Long Do Tabby Cats Live?

How long do tabby cats live? What is the average tabby cat lifespan? Generally 12-18 years, but some breeds have a shorter life expectancy compared to others. Read on to learn more…

Close your eyes right now and imagine a tabby cat. The image of a tabby cat is different for everybody because it can be a mixed breed or a purebred cat.

Tabbies were the originators of the “alley cat,” with many people imagining tabbies with scarred noses from fighting other felines and a rough, mottled coat.

However, many people, especially owners, see the tabby as a gentle giant. Orange Tabbies generally get a bit larger than other cats, and they have pleasant natures.

Rather than breed, the “tabby” moniker refers to the cat’s coat pattern, mostly occurring as stripes, whorls, or spots. They can come in various color options from red or ginger through to grey tabby cats. They all have the “M” mark on their forehead which makes them easy to identify. The tabby pattern is in high demand with owners, and you even find it in pedigree cats.

tabby and white american short hair cat rubbing against a fence post on a frosty morning
American Shorthair Tabby cat

Most of the popular registries accept the tabby as a legitimate color and pattern formation.

While there are plenty of variations in the tabby pattern, there are four primary classes identified in cats.

There’s also a fifth style of tabby where the pattern shows in tortoiseshell cats, causing a “torbie” effect highly sought among owners.

All domestic cats have the tabby gene, and it expresses itself in different breeds in different ways. Since tabbies are typically soft-natured, they make excellent house cats with easy temperaments.

Given the tabby cats’ gentle and stress-free nature, along with their mixed genetics, the tabby cat lifespan is often longer than other cats.

How Long Do Tabby Cats Live?

Since a tabby isn’t an official breed but rather a coat variation that can occur in cats with mixed heritage or with purebred heritage, they can sometimes benefit from a longer lifespan than other felines.

The lifespan of a tabby cat depends on its parent’s genetics, i.e., its parent’s breeds, and family history.

How long do tabby cats live? Generally domestic shorthair tabby cats between 12 to 18 years. However, some tabby cats live longer than this, with reports of a Burmese tabby living up to 25 years.

So, purebred tabbies like the Maine Coon and domestic shorthair tabbies may last longer than tabbies of those breeds known to have shorter lives like a Manx cat (average lifespan 8-years).

Tabbies from breeds such as the Siamese, British Shorthair, Burmese, and Savannah will last longer than those bred with other stock.

close up of a ginger tabby licking a grey tabby

How Does Genetics Affect The Longevity Of My Tabby Cat?

As mentioned, many breeds accept the tabby pattern in one variation or another. However, the tabby pattern only has recognition as an official color pattern in the following cats.

  • Abyssinian
  • American Bobtail
  • American Curl
  • American Shorthair
  • American Wirehair
  • Australian Mist
  • Bengal (spotted and classic)
  • British Shorthair
  • Burmilla (ticked)
  • California Spangled
  • Cheetoh
  • Chinchilla
  • Cornish Rex
  • Devon Rex
  • Egyptian Mau
  • Exotic
  • LaPerm
  • Maine Coon
  • Manx
  • Munchkin
  • Norwegian Forest Cat
  • Ocicat
  • Oriental
  • Persian cats
  • Scottish Fold
  • Siberian
  • Singapura (ticked)
  • Sokoke
  • Somali (ticked)

The tabby pattern also occurs in certain “pointed” breeds, such as the Colorpoint Shorthair, Siamese, Birman, Himalayan, Ragdoll, and Balinese.

close up portrait of the face of a tabby mane coon with huge whiskers
Maine Coon Tabby

While the tabby pattern is unmistakable in cats and occurs in different arrangements, most tabbies get a classic “M” pattern on their forehead, signifying the breed. This “M” is a throwback to its big cat ancestors, and you’ll find the same design on predator big cats like the leopard, cheetah, ocelot, and tiger.

Certain breeds of tabby cats tend to have longer lifespans, such as the Burmese, Siamese, Savannah, and British Shorthair.  

These breeds tend to have better health and suffer lesser health issues. Burmese tabbies, for instance, live for 18 to 25 years.

Unfortunately, some breeds tend to have shorter lifespans, such as the Selkirk Rex and the Manx tabbies that only live for an average of eight to 14 years.

What Are The Other Factors Affecting The Lifespan Of My Tabby Cat?

While tabbies are a hardy breed, and they live for up to two decades or longer, there are environmental factors playing a role in your furry friend’s longevity.

Consider these factors and how they play a role in determining your tabbies lifespan.

Do You Have An Indoor Or Outdoor Cat?

Tabbies vary in their personality. Some like to stay outdoors for most of the day, while others are happy to resign themselves to life as a housecat.

Indoor cats last much longer than outdoor cats for several reasons. If you have an outdoor cat, they’ll interact with other cats in the neighborhood.

Aside from fights and a little rough-and-tumble, cats may pick up other diseases from other cats. For instance, if your cat goes out every day and hangs around with strays, they may pick up fleas and flea-borne diseases that limit their lifespan.

Cats that roam might decide to pick off rodents in the area to meet their natural predator instincts. However, they might end up catching and dining on a rodent that consumed poison, indirectly poisoning your cat.

Cats that live indoors don’t have the same risks, and they tend to have lifespans leaning to the far end of the scale.

Proper Nutrition And Care

What you feed your cat makes a difference in their lifespan. Cats are well-known for developing digestive problems and food intolerances. You might have to spend several months trying to find a cat food brand and product that your cat enjoys eating.

a tabby cat sleeping on a radiator

If your cat has digestive issues, it’s going to require a specialized diet. Specialized diets help to soothe the symptoms of digestive disorders. However, the illness will dramatically reduce your cat’s lifespan.

Cats with digestive problems experience frequent blockages, requiring clearing by the vet when they get out of hand. Digestive issues are among the primary causes of early death in tabby cats and many other breeds, like the British Shorthair.

Ensure you’re feeding your cat the right diet, using a vet-approved food with high absorption rates and low waste production. Food plays possibly the most significant role in extending the longevity of your feline friend.

Wrapping Up – Key Takeaways

  • Tabby cats are not an official breed; they are a designated color pattern.
  • The tabby comes in five officially recognized color patterns.
  • Tabbies are mixed breeds and have longer lifespans than most pedigree cats.
  • The average age of a tabby cat can be anything between 12 to 25-years, depending on the feline’s genetic heritage.
  • There are only a few recognized breeds that can carry the tabby pattern.
  • Extending your cat’s lifespan requires you to feed it the best food and attend to its health needs.
  • Indoor tabbies last longer than outdoor tabbies.