How long do cats and dogs live? The answer is not set in stone but can be estimated using past studies that also reveal really important evidence, our pets now live longer than ever before. Apart from the extraordinary stories of longevity of recently deceased Tiffany 2 and the mysterious case of Maggie the dog, we can expect dogs and cats to enrich our lives for an average of 12 and 15 years respectively. This is still probably not long enough for their owners, who may be consoled by the results of recent research published in Science.
Life expectancy of dogs and cats: the role of man
The lifespans of our dogs and cats have doubled in the last 40 years. This welcome news is partly explained by the animals’ special relationship with man who provides quality food, regular veterinarian check-ups and an abundance of cuddles, all contributing factors to prolonging their lives. But this ‘domestication’ has also inevitably had negative effects that are typical of the modern age. But João Pedro de Magalhaes, a biogerontologist from the University of Liverpool, is convinced of the possibility that our pets can live even longer: “The same things that allow us to live longer also apply to our pets … Maybe a thousand years from now you could have dog that lives 300 years.”
Dogs and cats living longer: and man too?
The idea of cats, dogs and man living for hundreds of years may seem a bit extreme but certainly this issue is keeping the many scholars who are trying to extend the lives of our beloved pets busy. This is the case of the Dog Aging Project, a project led by Daniel Promislow, a geneticist at Washington University in Seattle. This complex study includes research on behaviour, reproduction, evolution and ecology, all useful to discover the secret of long life in animals and more, as Promislow explains: “If we can understand how to improve the quality and length of life, it’s good for our pets and good for us. It’s win-win.” Even the first ever litter of dogs born through in vitro fertilisation recently, positions the dog in a special role where discoveries in the canine species can help improve our health too, and reinforces the multiple benefits of our relationship with our pets, not only with animal lovers but with the whole human race too.