Sphynx Cats Have the Lowest Lifespan of All Domestic Cats, Study Finds

Nevena Nacic
by Nevena Nacic
Alexander Piragis/Shutterstock

Looking for a new feline companion to take home? Before you start researching cat breeders or head to the local shelter, keep in mind that not all cats live to a ripe old age. 

Researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and the National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan created life tables of the annual life expectancy of cats in the United Kingdom. Based on their findings, the hairless Sphynx cat has the lowest life expectancy of all cat breeds, living for only six and a half years, on average. 

The first-of-its-kind study of companion cat varieties was published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. The team of researchers created the very first “life tables” for different cat breeds, which predict the remaining life expectancy and probability of death. 

Life tables have been used in human public health for years, but have recently started being used for cats and dogs. 

Understanding typical remaining lifespan can also support owners and veterinarians while making complex decisions about the best treatment option to protect a cat’s overall wellbeing,” said researchers. 

Although they look timeless, the Sphynx cat has a surprisingly low life expectancy of 6.7 years. Researchers noted that Sphynx cats are at an increased risk of several diseases that might be the leading cause of their shorter-than-average lifespan. 

For this study, researchers used data from 7,936 veterinary-registered cats in the United Kingdom that died between January 1, 2019, and March 31, 2021. Data showed that the average life expectancy for cats is 11.7 years. Interestingly, researchers discovered that female cats have a longer life expectancy (12.5 years) than male cats (11.2 years).

The team also found that cats that haven’t been neutered have shorter lifespans. Cats with normal weight tend to have a longer lifespan than underweight or overweight felines. 

The study discovered that crossbred cats have a longer life expectancy than purebred cats. Crossbred felines have an average life expectancy of 11.9 years, while purebreds have an average lifespan of 10.4 years.

Based on the data, Birman and Burmese cats have the longest life expectancy of all cat breeds, with kittens in their first year of life expected to live on average 14.4 years. Next were crossbred cats, which usually live around 11.9 years, followed by Siamese cats, with an average lifespan of 11.7 years. 

Using the available data, researchers calculated that Persian cats have an average lifespan of 10.9 years, followed by Ragdoll cats (10 years), Maine coon cats (9.7 years), Russian cats (9.7 years), British cats (9.6 years), and Bengal cats (8.5 years). 

The study also discovered that purebred cats have a 1.83 higher chance of dying before three years of age than crossbred cats. 

According to researchers, understanding these numbers is important because they offer an idea of what the future holds. “Essentially what we’re doing is we’re giving some level of statistical certainty, where previously it was just guesswork,” said Dr. Dan O’Neill, a co-author of the study from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC). 

This data can be important for prospective owners, vets, and rehoming organizations, and can also be helpful for people who may be evaluating the value of expensive and painful surgery or medication for their cat. 

Essentially, this is now giving the power to the public. If somebody’s priority is they want a cat that is going to defer death for as long as possible, on average, we now have the evidence to say [get a] female and crossbred [cat].” 

Join the PetGuide community. Get the latest pet news and product recommendations by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Nevena Nacic
Nevena Nacic

Nevena is a freelance writer and a proud mom of Teo, a 17-year-old poodle, and Bob, a rescued grey tabby cat. Since childhood, she had a habit of picking up strays and bringing them home (luckily, her parents didn't know how to say NO). When she's not writing for her fellow pet parents, Nevena can be found watching Teo sleep. To her defense, that's not as creepy as it sounds!

More by Nevena Nacic