How to Help Your Cat Live Longer

It's hard to imagine a life without our cats.  They bring so much personality and love to our lives, and a lot of us feel that a home is not a home without a cat or two to run things for us.  Unfortunately, cats can run into health issues which limit their quality-- and duration-- of life.

We’ve narrowed down the 9 best ways you can help your cat live longer, including lifestyle changes, recommended diets, and the right supplements and drugs that can boost longevity. Let’s get learning.

Why don't cats live longer?

The average lifespan of a cat is around 13-17 years, but some cats can live up to 20 years. The oldest cat recorded was Creme Puff, a Maine coon who lived to a whopping 38. What affects a cat’s lifespan, though?

The following factors affect a cat’s lifespan:

  • Genetics (including breed)
  • Lifestyle
  • Nutrition
  • Medical care

Genetics are the only thing here out of your control. While we could go breed by breed and offer an average lifespan, a more effective approach is learning about your cat’s parents from wherever you adopted them.  Not a purebred?  Don't worry.  Just as with most species, cats of mixed blood tend to live longer than their purebred pals. 

Now, let’s get into what you can do to help your cat live as long as possible.

How to keep your cat healthy and living longer

Indoor cats are healthy cats

While some closely monitored outside time with your cat is great for combating lethargy and depression, you should try to keep your cat indoors as much as possible. Outdoor cats are exposed to several dangers that are prevented by simply not letting them out: injuries, disease, parasites, toxic chemicals, extreme weather, and our old friend, the automobile. 

To make inside life more enjoyable, you should:

  • Rotate through stimulating toys or a laser pointer
  • Invest in a multi-level cat tower with a scratching post.
  • Have some wheat grass for them to munch on
  • Open screened windows with ledges for them to watch the world go by.
  • Use enrichment feeding toys and food puzzles
  • A little catnip goes a long way :)

Keep their weight down

Now, let’s be clear, we’re all about treating your cats like royalty. However, obesity is a serious problem that many cats deal with, and it can lead to cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, and kidney disease.   When you start to see a little pooch developing ahead of their hind legs, it's time to take stock.

Dietary management is the best way to fight obesity. Start by understanding the food they eat: type, amount, and frequency. Identify your cat's eating habits. Ask your veterinarian what the ideal feeding plan is based on these factors. 

Studies show it’s best to feed a cat based on their behavior as hunters; one way is to feed cats small amounts at a time.  Some cats are "grazers", eating only a small amount at a time.  This is great, but if your cat parks himself in front of the food bowl you may have to feed designated meals throughout the day.

Give them wet food

Remember 38-year-old Creme Puff? She ate bacon, eggs, and asparagus. That might seem outrageous, and that’s not to mention that she also got red wine, but it goes to show that each of us is an individual... especially cats.

Cats are obligate carnivores, and I have seen them killed by well-intentioned owners trying to make their cat a vegetarian.  In particular, meat diets provide our old pal taurine, an essential amino acid, that helps maintain normal heart function.

Unfortunately, a dry food diet isn’t the best for cats in the long run. Kibbled diets contain high amounts of carbohydrates as a binder, and cats don’t metabolize carbs very efficiently, 

Dry kibbles also are a more concentrated source of calories, as they are not diluted out by liquid, and thus a cup of kibbles has A LOT more calories than a cup of canned food.

Hydrate them with clean water

Just as with humans, hydration is vital to feline longevity. Make sure they have regular access to fresh, clean water every day. Cats should have around 4 ounces of water per five pounds of body weight a day.   

Also, you may want to invest in a shallow water bowl. Their whiskers are very sensitive, and the stimulation from them touching water can frustrate some cats.

Maintain a clean litter box

Nobody said that our cats weren't finicky.  Some cats just won't use the litter box if it is not clean, leaving us with two problems -- either they go to the bathroom OUTSIDE the litter box, a problem for us, or they simply hold their urine and poop until they just can't take it any more-- a health issue for them.   Also, understand that cats are creatures of habit, and like a consistent litter.  Don't change the litter without a little forethought.

Don’t skip on dental hygiene

Dental problems are common in cats over 5 years, and untreated dental problems both create daily pain and reduce lifespan by up to 15%.  If your cat has bad breath or you see them dropping food from their mouth, this means you.  

The only way to truly solve dental disease in cats is with yearly anesthetic dentals.  Why is anesthesia needed?  Well, for one thing, cats are cats.  But the larger reason is that EVERY DENTAL PROCEDURE SHOULD INCLUDE DENTAL RADIOGRAPHS.  If your vet cannot take tooth x-rays, find another vet who can for your cat's dental work.   If your cat has diseased teeth, let's treat or extract them to solve your cat's pain.

Untreated dental disease has also been shown to contribute to both heart problems and kidney disease, two issues which can cause premature death in our cat pals.

Interestingly,  rapamycin has been shown to not only to treat hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in cats, to improve longevity but also to reduce periodontal disease.  Could be a game changer for your cat, folks. 

Regular Veterinary Care

Listen, I'm a vet, so OBVIOUSLY I'm going to recommend regular veterinary care to keep your cat healthy.  But I'm going to throw a few curve balls into that equation for you.  Such as...

  • Outside cats need vaccines, but for inside cats you should weigh the pros of immune protection against the cons of potential needle-induced cancer at the site of vaccination.  For many folks, the risks of vaccines outweigh the benefits.. in indoor cats.
  • For cats over 5, veterinary care should consist of annual.... a) exams, b) blood and urine tests, and c) the DENTAL CARE mentioned above.
  • Cats over 10 should be seen twice a year, and their routine blood tests should include thyroid, blood sugar, and kidney diagnostics.

Supplements can help your cat.

Many of the diseases which challenge our cats as they go through their lives can be helped by supplements.  However, there is a huge amount of, well, bullshit, on the web about pet supplements in general and so you need someone you can trust to help you select the best products for your cat.

Speaking of supplements, here are a couple that we ABSOLUTELY recommend for any middle aged cat:

  • TRANSCEND: This is Undenatured Type II Collagen, or UC-II, a supplement designed to help cats live with less arthritis pain. It’s also been shown to improve range of motion, quality of life, and reduce cartilage degeneration.  It's easy to administer because you can just sprinkle it on your cat's food.
  • VISBIOME: This is one of the most powerful probiotics on the market, with over 8 million CFUs (Colony Forming Units). Probiotic supplementation is great for a cat’s gut microbiome, which has many health benefits because of its importance in the immune system. 
  • Bladder inflammation and infections, another frequent concern for cat parents, can be minimized through the use of glucosamine and mannose supplements, and I can help you choose them.

Supplements aren’t the only thing you can give to support your cat, though. 


Health problems caused by aging once seemed untouchable, but there’s a new kid on the block for pet longevity: rapamycin. While currently an off-label drug, there have been many studies showing its wide-reaching benefits for feline health, and every study to date has shown it to be a safe way to prolong lifespan in mammals

The most important benefit we’ve seen is how rapamycin has been able to stop the progression of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in cats, a fatal heart disease sadly all too common. Before rapamycin, there was no effective way to treat this disease.

Rapamycin also has many cancer-fighting benefits, including the ability to help with cat mammary cancer and squamous cell carcinomas of the skin. There are also clinical trials studying rapamycin for chronic kidney disease and for stomatitis, two diseases that will ABSOLUTELY shorten your cat's lifespan. 

Remember that rapamycin is a prescription drug. That means you’re either going to need a prescription from your local vet or a concierge consult with our veterinarian Dr. Kevin Toman before ordering. 

At this point, our little HPLL is the only online source for rapamycin for cats. 

Help your cat live longer with the right supplements for your cat and rapamycin 

At HPLL, our mission is to do whatever we can to help your cat live a longer and happier life.   Take a look at our selection of vet-approved drugs and supplements for cats.

And the biggest thing?  If you have questions about your cat's health, I'm here for you.  Let me know how I can help your kitty, and I will --- Dr. Kevin