What Kind of Pet Lives the Longest?
Dr. Jan Bellows
Having a pet is a fun, loving experience. Even the most boring of animals still allows you to feel affection and enjoy the feeling of life that the animal brings into your home. But like all animals, pets pass away. They have shorter lifespans than human beings, and any pet that you purchase is likely to die of old age sometime during your lifetime.
If you are one that tends to feel intense affection towards your animals, this could be a difficult emotional experience, and one that you may not want to subject yourself to willingly. So how long do pets usually live and what types of pets live the longest?
Lifespan of Pets
Fish tend to be the shortest living pets. Many fish raised in captivity only live approximately 1 to 2 years on average. But there are several fish that live as long as 10 years or more, such as Neon Tetras and Angelfish, so it is not impossible to find a longer living fish. Still, expect that most captive fish do not have long lifespans, and may pass away within a short time after they are purchased.
Domesticated ferrets live approximately 5 to 8 years, depending on overall health. However, ferrets tend to age oddly. A ferret of roughly equal size can be “old” by as young as 4 years, while some ferrets live to be as old as 15 (though this is very uncommon). For their size, ferrets do not have a long lifespan overall.
For many decades, cats lived only about 9 years, with a few exceptional cats living as long as 30+ years (!). But within recent years – thanks to more cats being kept indoors and advancements in veterinary medicine – cats actually live an approximate lifespan of 15-17 years when well taken cared for, making them some of the longest living pets available. In history, the longest living cat lived to be an amazing 38 years old.
A dog’s lifespan differs greatly depending on the size of the dog. Smaller dogs live roughly 14 to 15 years, while larger dogs experience “old age” at just 8 or 9 years old. Dog breeds have fairly well known lifespans, and each breed is different, but the average dog will live to be 12, with 13 a better bet if the dog has remained active and in good health. Unlike cats, the oldest living dog is just 21, and the oldest known living dog lived to be 29.
The longest living pet is not dogs, or cats, but birds. Birds have amazing lifespans – with some birds living longer than human beings! However, bird lifespans can vary dramatically. There are some birds that live only a few years in captivity, while others live an amazing 80 years. Birds also thrive in captivity. A pet crow, for example, can live to be as old as 30, but a wild crow rarely lives more than 10 years. Finches live roughly 15 years, as do Canaries and Cockatiels, while Cockatoos live an amazing 65 years. Not to be outdone, Macaws have been known to live to be over 100! But their average lifespan is closer to 60 years compared to the Cockatoo’s 65.
Overall Thoughts on Pet Life Expectancies
As you can see, there is a great deal of difference between animals. If you are looking for an animal that will live as long as you will, a pet parrot is going to be your best bet. But if you are happy simply caring for a pet for possibly a decade or two, a cat or dog is still a great choice.