How Long Do Tabby Cats Live?

How Long Do Tabby Cats Live

If you are a pet parent of a tabby cat consider yourself very fortunate because tabbies are both adorable and exhibit some striking color patterns. But have you ever wondered how long tabby cats live? You’d be surprised to know that they can live for up to 20 years if they are well taken care of and kept mostly indoors. 

What is a tabby cat?

A tabby cat is any type of domestic cat with very distinctive patterns on its coat, characterized by an M-shaped marking on the forehead as well as striped, flecked, dotted, lined, or swirled patterns on its body such as on the neck, shoulders, chest, and tummy. The term “tabby” is not a breed but a coat type found in most cat breeds

Tabby coat patterns 

There are at least four common tabby coat patterns and these are the following:

1. Classic tabby

This type of pattern is also called blotched and is characterized by wide and dark stripes over the flanks and shoulders as well as three large stripes from the shoulder blades down to the base of the tail. Most people would say the pattern is similar to a marble cake. 

2. Spotted tabby

This pattern is characterized by distinctive round spots against a background of fur that is of a lighter color.

3. Mackerel tabby

This particular pattern is characterized by continuous or broken stripes that run perpendicular to the cat’s spine just like a fishbone. 

4. Ticked tabby 

This pattern is also called agouti and is characterized by thin stripes on the legs, tail, and face, although there’s no trace of stripes on the cat’s body. 

Ticked tabby 
Image: / Josephine Jullian

Personality traits

Tabby cats are known for being happy-go-lucky and friendly cats. They are also affectionate and popular for being intelligent companion cats. Red tabbies, also known as orange or ginger tabbies are famous for being bossy and spunky, although this trait is more associated with the color as compared to the pattern. 

Factors that affect a tabby cat’s longevity 

Tabby cats can live for up to 20 years but this is highly dependent on several factors. Here are the common factors that affect a tabby cat’s longevity and lifespan:

The breed and genetics of your tabby cat

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. 

If your cat stays mostly indoors or also goes outdoors

An indoor cat has a higher chance to live for up to 20 years or more because she is secure inside your home. Cats that mostly live outdoors or even if they live with pet parents but can go out unsupervised, live on average much shorter lives. This is because their lives are endangered mostly due to speeding cars, dogs, or by getting into fights with feral cats.

To ensure that your tabby cats live a full and happy life, try to keep them indoors as much as possible. However, a little outdoor adventure now and then won’t hurt so long as there’s a safe cat enclosure or secured catio for your pets. 

Proper care and nutrition  

An important factor that determines your tabby cat’s longevity is if she is receiving balanced nutrition and proper care, both physically and mentally. Always make sure to feed your pet with veterinarian-approved and recommended meals. Do not spoil her by overfeeding her with treats. You should provide clean water at all times.

You should also see to it that your cat does not miss her vaccinations and regular check-ups with your vet including dental check-ups. Encourage your tabby to be physically active by installing a cat tree or cat perch. Tabby cats are also very smart and it is important to have plenty of interactive playtime with her through the use of interactive toys to mentally challenge your cat. Keep toxic household items away and safely out of reach from your pet cat. Most of all, giving your pet your attention and care will benefit them.   

How to keep tabby kittens healthy

How to keep tabby kittens healthy
Image: / AlexImages

All kittens are vulnerable to sickness and infections. They should stay with their mother until at least 12 to 14 weeks old. Once they have reached this stage, they become more sociable and emotionally stable to be able to handle and thrive in a new environment. If you decide to adopt a tabby kitten, make sure to spay or neuter it and bring your pet kitten to the vet for the necessary vaccinations which start when cats are around six weeks old.

To introduce solid food to your tabby kitten, gradually do the transition by giving small quantities of nutritious food that is rich in protein when your pet is around four or five weeks old. Just like baby food, make sure to mash your kitten’s food and mix with milk or water so that it’s more like a soup consistency and eventually adjust until your pet becomes used to solid cat food.

Tabby adult cats similarly need the right care and attention so they stay healthy and be able to reach a full lifespan of even 20 years or more. Make sure that you bring your tabby to the vet for regular check-ups and scheduled vaccinations. Ensure that your pet tabby eats a balanced diet that’s formulated for cats and avoid giving her human or dog food.

There’s a wide array of cat wet food available these days to keep your cat’s mealtimes as appetizing as ever but make sure that it’s grain-free and based on meat ingredients to supplement her protein requirements. Avoid overfeeding your tabby because she may become obese which could result in medical conditions like diabetes.

Proper grooming and hygiene should always be practiced and be sure to comb the fur regularly especially if your tabby has a long coat to avoid matted fur. Take time to brush your tabby’s teeth at least once a week but if she abhors it then a quick rub using a damp cloth should be fine.

Nevertheless, keep your tabby active and entertained by providing her with engaging activities like a cat perch and toys like treat balls and fishing pole teasers. Schedule regular playtime with your tabby for at least 15 minutes twice each day so your pet will stay active and also become closely bonded with you. 


You are one lucky pet parent if you have a tabby because they’re known for being affectionate, smart, and friendly. They also tend to live a long lifespan of 12 to 20 years especially if they’re well-cared-for. While their longevity is determined by the breed and if they have been mostly indoors or outdoors, a tabby will survive and live a full and happy life if she receives tender loving care, attention, and proper nutritional support from you.