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How Long Do Tabby Cats Live? What Impacts Their Lifespan?

How Long Do Tabby Cats Live? What Impacts Their Lifespan?

There is a general misconception about Tabby cats; many people think they are a breed of cat. Rather, it is a type of coat found on almost every breed of domestic cat. The tabby pattern, as it is commonly referred to, is found in many cat breeds, and it occurs naturally.

The lifespan of tabby cats varies according to the breed, although tabby cats are not different from other domestic cats. They have a lifespan between 10 and 20 years. Some of the things that can impact a tabby cat’s lifespan are cancerous breast tumors, prostate issues, uterine infections, etc.

Also, it is important to know that the lifespan of tabby cats also depends on the sex of the cats. Female tabby cats, like other cats, live longer than male cats, about a year or two longer.

tabby cat collage

Tabby Cats

Cats referred to as tabby cats are not a special breed of cat; they are cats with a particular coat pattern, varying from whorls to stripes, spots, dots, flecks, bands, and other types of patterns. The patterns vary among different breeds.

Other distinguishing features of tabby cats are striped across the cheeks and by the eyes, around the tail, legs, and along the cat’s back. There are five different tabby coat patterns; classic tabby, orange tabby, mackerel tabby, ticked tabby, and spotted tabby.

Classic Tabby

Cats termed classic tabby are also known as marbled tabby or blotched tabby. They are identified by the M marking on the forehead and thick curving markings in a swirled or whirled pattern with distinctive marks that look like a bullseye on each side of the body.

Orange Tabby

Orange tabby cats can be a variant of any of the other tabby cats. Their orange and white markings identify them. The underside and paws of the cats are usually white, and the back is usually orange.

Although the cats can have dark orange markings like stripes or spots in the orange areas, white areas are usually a solid color. About eighty percent of orange tabby cats are male, while only twenty percent are females.

Mackerel Tabby

Mackerel tabby cats are known for their slender and vertical curving stripes on the sides of their bodies. The stripes can either be broken into bars and shot spots or continuous, especially on the stomach and flanks.

There are also about three to five vertical lines shaped in the form of M on the forehead, one or more cheeks, from the corners of the eye. There are also lines and stripes at various angles on the shoulder, neck, flanks, and around the tail and legs.

Spotted Tabby

It is believed that spotted tabby cats result from a modifier gene that broke the mackerel tabby patterns, causing the stripes to appear as spots. Some claim spotted tabby genes may have broken up the classic tabby pattern, causing them to appear as large spots.

Ticked Tabby

Ticked tabby cats are also known as agouti tabby and Abyssinian tabby. These cats are known for the even fields of agouti hair with distinctive band colors, breaking up the tabby, making it look sandy. Ticked tabby cats do not have stripes or bands, and they come in different colors and forms.

How Long Do Tabby Cats Live?

Various factors affect and influence the lifespan of cats; genes, feeding habits, health, and nutrition, among other factors. While the expected lifespan of tabby cats is between ten (10) to eighteen (18) years, some make it into their twenties (20s), the factors we mentioned can make the cat live long or not.

Studies have also proven that female tabby cats tend to live longer than male cats. There is a belief that indoor cats tend to have a longer lifespan than outdoor cats because the former is not exposed to all outdoor cats’ dangers and mortality factors. However, if an indoor cat is not properly cared for well, it will have a shorter lifespan than outdoor cats.

How Long Do Indoor Tabby Cats Live?

Indoor tabby cats are expected to have a life expectancy of about twelve (12) to twenty (20) years. At best, outdoor tabby cats have a life expectancy of about four (4) to five (5) years. And this is a result of all the dangers an outdoor cat is exposed to, including dog attacks, predator attacks, accidents, and illnesses.

You might assume that since the life expectancy of indoor tabby cats is more than outdoor tabby cats, all indoor tabby cats would live longer. This is not always the case; despite being protected from all mortality factors, an indoor tabby cat will not live as long as an outdoor tabby cat without proper care.

tabby cat on blue

What Affects The Lifespan Of Tabby Cats?

We mentioned earlier that various factors affect the lifespan of cats. And unless you know how to deal with these factors, your tabby cat will have a reduced life expectancy. Some of the factors are;


The genes of a tabby cat play an important role in the lifespan of the cat. Some genes have become recessive in some breeds or have been manipulated due to controlled breeding to dilute or produce distinctive traits. With selective breeding, various tabby cat breeds have had their life expectancy reduced. It might sound shocking, but all cats have tabby genes, but as a result of evolution and human activities, only the ones with dominant genes have tabby coats.

Exercise And Diet

This is among the most important factors that affect the lifespan of tabby cats and other cats in general. You can feed your tabby cat the right meal at the right time, but without adequate exercise, your pet will become obese and have a reduced lifespan. Correct diet and adequate exercise are complementary.

Ensure you feed your tabby cat a healthy diet recommended by the veterinarian, and your cat must also get plenty of exercise to keep fit. This is one of the main advantages an indoor tabby enjoys over an outdoor tabby cat.


Another factor that determines the life expectancy of a tabby cat is the environment. Usually, indoor tabby cats have a longer lifespan than outdoor tabby cats because indoor cats are very secure and have access to adequate nutrition, care, grooming, and other essentials necessary for their survival.

Outdoor tabby cats are unsupervised; they are exposed to all kinds of dangers, whether they are in the city or countryside. They lack adequate care and are prone to all kinds of sickness, threats, starvation, etc.

How To Keep Tabby Kittens Healthy

One of the ways to ensure your tabby cat lives for a long time is to ensure it receives adequate care, attention, and devotion from the moment it is born. Kittens are more vulnerable to infections and sickness than adult cats. First, you should ensure the kitten stays close to its mother until at least 12 weeks old.

You should also take the kitten to the veterinarian regularly for diagnosis and analysis; your kitten would start receiving all essential vaccinations once it is around six weeks old. Once your kitten is 12 to 14 weeks old, it becomes more emotionally stable and sociable; at this period, you can introduce it to solid food.

It would be best if you never ignored hygiene and proper grooming; this should be a regular practice throughout the lifespan of your tabby cat. You should ensure your cat gets adequate exercise daily to remain fit.

Final Thoughts

Tabby cats have been said to be one of the smartest, affectionate, and friendly cats, so you would be lucky to have one. Although in reality, there is little difference between tabby cats and other domestic cats except for their markings. The most distinctive feature of tabby cats is the M-shaped marking on the forehead.

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