Enhanced knowledge on longevity and mortality in cats should support improved breeding, husbandry, clinical care and disease prevention strategies. The VetCompass research database of primary care veterinary practice data offers an extensive resource of clinical health information on companion animals in the UK. This study aimed to characterise longevity and mortality in cats, and to identify important demographic risk factors for compromised longevity. Crossbred cats were hypothesised to live longer than purebred cats. Descriptive statistics were used to characterise the deceased cats. Multivariable linear regression methods investigated risk factor association with longevity in cats that died at or after 5 years of age. From 118,016 cats attending 90 practices in England, 4009 cats with confirmed deaths were randomly selected for detailed study. Demographic characterisation showed that 3660 (91.7%) were crossbred, 2009 (50.7%) were female and 2599 (64.8%) were neutered. The most frequently attributed causes of mortality in cats of all ages were trauma (12.2%), renal disorder (12.1%), non-specific illness (11.2%), neoplasia (10.8%) and mass lesion disorders (10.2%). Overall, the median longevity was 14.0 years (interquartile range [IQR] 9.0-17.0; range 0.0-26.7). Crossbred cats had a higher median longevity than purebred cats (median [IQR] 14.0 years [9.1-17.0] vs 12.5 years [6.1-16.4]; P <0.001), but individual purebred cat breeds varied substantially in longevity. In cats dying at or after 5 years (n = 3360), being crossbred, having a lower bodyweight, and being neutered and non-insured were associated with increased longevity. This study described longevity in cats and identified important causes of mortality and breed-related associations with compromised longevity.
© ISFM and AAFP 2014.