Longevity and mortality in cats: A single institution necropsy study of 3108 cases (1989-2019)

PLoS One. 2022 Dec 29;17(12):e0278199. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0278199. eCollection 2022.


Client-owned cats who underwent a post-mortem examination (n = 3,108) at a veterinary medical teaching hospital between 1989 and 2019 were studied to determine longevity and factors affecting mortality. Demographic factors, environmental factors, age, and causes of death were assessed. Sexes included 5.66% intact females, 39.86% spayed females, 6.95% intact males and 47.49% neutered males. 84.2% were mixed breed cats. Age at death was known for 2,974 cases with a median of 9.07 years. Cancer was the most common pathophysiologic cause of death (35.81%) and was identified in 41.3% of cats. When categorized by organ system, mortality was most attributed to multiorgan/systemic (21.72%). Renal histologic abnormalities were noted in 62.84% of cats but was considered the primary cause of death in only 13.06% of cats. Intact female and male cats had significantly shorter lifespans than their spayed or neutered counterparts. FeLV positive status was associated with decreased longevity (P<0.0001) while FIV status was not. This study reports on risk factors associated with mortality and highlights areas of research that may contribute to improved lifespan in cats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases*
  • Cats
  • Female
  • Immunodeficiency Virus, Feline*
  • Leukemia Virus, Feline
  • Longevity
  • Male
  • Neoplasms*
  • Risk Factors