According to the United States Environmental Agency, the concentration of pollutants in the air indoors is generally 2 to 5 times that in the air outdoors.

This means that the life expectancy of humans increases when they live outdoors than spending time indoors.

But does this mean the same for cats? 

The bodies and immunity of cats are a lot different than of humans but how does their lifestyle that is the choice of staying indoors or outdoors affect their lifespan or the number of times they get sick or not?

Let us find out.

Do Outdoor Cats Live Longer?

What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Outdoor Cat?

What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Outdoor Cat?

The average lifespan of a cat is generally 10 to 15 years according to PetMD but that is not a definitive fact on average they have a lifespan of 2 to 15 years.

The distinction between the lifespan of indoor and outdoor cats is something very unbelievable. The average lifespan of an outdoor cat is about 2 to 5 years but that of an indoor cat could be up to 20 years.

This vast difference is due to exposure to various fatal diseases which indoor cats are privileged to be safe of. Outdoor cats are generally strayed and they don’t get the care and attention that indoor cats i.e. pet cats get.

When cats are indoors they are someone’s responsibility and priority and they are being looked after. From proper meals to regular checkups and grooming they are not neglected.

Strays have a different situation, they sometimes go without food, or most of the time their diet consists of leftovers from the dumpster.

This sort of dumpster diving situation exposes them to a lot of bacteria that could make them ill and they are more likely to lose their lives than indoor cats.  

Looking at all the aspects it does not seem far-fetched that indoor cats may have a longer life than outdoor cats.

Do Outdoor Cats Live Longer Than Indoor Cats?

Do Outdoor Cats Live Longer Than Indoor Cats?

No, outdoor cats do not live longer than indoor cats. This may seem ridiculous and the arguments in your head may sound convincing too, but no, outdoor cats indeed have a shorter life than indoor cats.

When I first heard about it, I was dismissing the idea but we have to realize that not only do humans and cats have different bodies but they function differently too.

In humans, we believe that if we stay outdoors and get exposed to diseases we have greater chances of developing immunity against the said disease but that is not the case with cats. 

Apart from diseases and unwanted and fatal exposure the risks of running into accidents and they have a higher risk of dying in an accident due to their smaller size. They can also not communicate as humans can and they can’t express grievances as humans can.

This makes them more vulnerable and put them more on the frontline of danger. Also, indoor cats are being constantly attended to so the nuances in behavior or body language would quickly come under observation which could never even be considered for outdoor cats.

Cats are small and fragile despite belonging to one of the most vicious predator species, so exposure to risks and unwanted diseases could be very fatal for them. 

So next question: Do Indoor Cats Live Longer?

Do Cats Live Longer If They Live Outside?

As shocking and unreal as it may sound outdoor cats do not have a longer life than indoor cats, they are not provided with the chances of a longer life. Death is a very unpredictable event, an indoor cat may die earlier than an outdoor cat or vice versa.

But the probability of the latter happening is far greater than the probability of the former even taking place.

Considering a few scenarios, let us consider an outdoor cat who liver for let’s say 5 years and dies of a flea infection because it was ignored.

A simple flea infection caused the death of the cat. Still, if an indoor cat i.e a pet cat gets flea infected, the owner may notice it or it could easily be diagnosed at a regular follow-up at the vet, so the cat could get proper treatment in time and could live longer despite the infection but the outdoor cat may die. 

Another could be that the cat is exposed to conditions like weather changes and could get sick due to that. These are a few of the many possibilities that the cat may have to face and it may die whereas an indoor cat may stay protected and live a longer life than the outdoor cat. 

But nothing could be said with certainty as all of these are probable outcomes and nothing is set in stone. It could be one way or another and it’s just fate, which is my personal opinion.

If you are not a believer in fate, there are still arguments that support the fact that outdoor cats have a shorter life than indoor cats. 

Interesting Read: Why Do Cats Age Faster Than Humans?

Why Do Outdoor Cats Live Shorter?

Why Do Outdoor Cats Live Shorter?

There are a variety of reasons to present a strong argument in favor of the shorter lifespan of outdoor cats.

In the end, all that we have to accept is death is an uncontrollable and unpredictable event only guesses could be made for the same.

The reasons the lifespan of cats would decrease if they lived outside would be : 

1. Risk Of Exposure:

The outdoor environment provides a lot of exposure to various diseases that a vat could catch.

If the cat catches any deadly bacteria or virus, it may die due to a lack of treatment or facilities.

2. Car Accidents:

In this ever-growing world technological advancement has created a situation where it enables nearly all of us to own our rides like cars or bikes.

Cats are small animals and they are not really aware of the dangers on the road, they are highly likely to get killed by a speeding car or a bike if they are not alert.

This is another concerning reason for the short lives of strays.

Interesting Read: Do Female Cats Live Longer Than Male Cats?

3. Getting Trapped:

Cats being small animals tend to get into small spaces. When the whole world is moving towards urbanization, buildings and other structures have taken over empty spaces.

A cat may get locked in any such space for a long time and may die due to a lack of food and air. This may seem far-fetched and ridiculous but there have been situations like these more than once.

4. Getting Hunted:

Cats aren’t the only stray animals on the street if we look at it. There are other big animals that could easily hunt a cat and have it as their meal.

5. Animal Abusers:

The world is a very cruel place and people don’t have much empathy left for them. They are selfish and arrogant, then there are animal abusers who for no reason hate animals and even go to horrendous lengths such as abusing and killing them.

Outdoor cats could easily become a victim and get caught by such a vile human being and could face death

6. Frostbite:

This may not be the case of concern for outdoor cats in tropical regions but in many cold places cats could get frostbite and it is not a very easy thing to go through.

This is probably because there are not many cats or any strays for that matter in colder regions. 

Must Read: How Cold Can Cats Survive Outside?

Frequently Asked Questions

Do outdoor cats have better immunity than indoor cats?

It is possible that outdoor cats have better immunity than indoor cats but their lifespans are shorter. They may have immunity against diseases but they cannot fight against other bigger dangers which could cause fatalities.

For what reasons other than illness could cause the death of outdoor cats?

Other than illness, an outdoor cat may lose life due to road accidents, getting hunted by large animals or they may get picked up by animal control where they could be put down. They may even die at the hands of animal abusers.

Is it better for a cat to be indoor or outdoor?

As a lifestyle, the healthier choice would be the indoors for the cats to have a longer life, but that does not mean locking up your cat indoors all the time just enough so they don’t get exposed to dangerous situations in the world.


We, humans, try to apply human logic even to animals, but we fail to understand that their bodies may have the same organs but they are built differently and have different mechanisms in the interior of their bodies.

We try to justify animal life mechanisms like our own, just like me when presented with the question; if outdoor cats live longer than indoor cats?

No outdoor cats do not live longer than indoor cats, they are much more exposed and have risks looming on their head whereas indoor cats are usually pets or taken under the wing of some kind of organization where they are constantly cared for and looked after. 

They are always under scrutiny while outdoor cats sometimes even go unnoticeable; hence, if they are exposed to risk, they may not survive.

Hence their lifespans are shorter than outdoor cats having an average of 2 to 5 years which is lessers compared to that of 10 to 20 years of an indoor cat.

So if given the choice would you keep your cat indoors or outdoors?

Interesting Read: How Long Do Tabby Cats Live?


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