What is the Life Expectancy of Pets?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

The life expectancy of pets varies quite a bit, depending not only on the type of animal but on other factors as well, such as whether they are indoor pets or outdoor pets and the level of care that is provided by their owners. Common house pets such as cats and dogs typically live about 10-12 years, which means that a child who receives a pet when he or she is young might have that pet throughout his or her childhood. Many types of animals can be kept as pets, which means that pets' lifespans can range from a few months to several decades or more.

Cats generally live between 12 to 18 years.
Cats generally live between 12 to 18 years.


Many parents take life expectancy under consideration when choosing pets for their children. A pet with a shorter lifespan might not be chosen for a young child who is more likely to be emotionally distraught if the pet dies. Some parents, however, might see a pet's death as a chance to teach their children about death. When choosing pets that have shorter lifespans, such as fish, hamsters or gerbils, parents often get more than one so that their children will still have one or more pets remaining if one dies.

Canaries, like other pet birds, can live 10 years or longer.
Canaries, like other pet birds, can live 10 years or longer.

Proper care

The life of a pet can be extended if it is cared for properly. Proper pet care includes providing it with the proper food and habitat. Veterinary care also can help pets live longer.

Cockatoos can live for up to 70 years.
Cockatoos can live for up to 70 years.


Each breed of dog has its own life expectancy, with breeds such as Irish wolfhounds, bulldogs and Bernese mountain dogs being on the low end with average lifespans of six or seven years. At the other end of the spectrum are breeds such as Bedlington terriers, miniature dachshunds and poodles, Tibetan terrier and whippets, which have life expectancies of about 14 years. A life expectancy is not a maximum age, however, and many dogs can live for 20 years or more.

Frogs live between 4 and 15 years.
Frogs live between 4 and 15 years.


For cats, the main factor that determines life expectancy is whether they're indoor or outdoor cats. Outdoor cats generally live to be only four or five years old because they are more likely to catch viruses or to suffer some kind of trauma. Indoor cats, on the other hand, often can be expected to live 12-18 years.

Hamsters typically only live a few years.
Hamsters typically only live a few years.


Birds typically have a life expectancy of 10-30 years. The parrot family as a whole — including parakeets, cockatoos, macaws and cockateels — tends to live longer. These birds can have a lifespan of 70 years or more.

A pet goat can live for 15 years or longer.
A pet goat can live for 15 years or longer.

Other pets

Some very short-lived creatures have become popular as pets. The hybrid of Artemia salina, a species of brine shrimp, sometimes known as fairy shrimp or sea-monkeys, can live up to two years. Ant farms, which allow owners to see the tunneling and other activities of ants, might house ants that live for about six months. The creatures with the scientific name Triops longicaudatus but commonly known as aquasaurs or tadpole shrimp, are a kind of crustacean that typically lives for less than a month.

Pet rats live an average of about two years.
Pet rats live an average of about two years.
Pet type Average life expectancy Oldest reported (approximate)
rat 2-3 4+
mouse 3-5 6
anole 4 8
golden hamster 3 10
goat 15+ 18
rabbit 5-15 18
sheep 8-16 20
frog 4-15 21
dog 12.8 29
domestic cat 12-18 34
pigeon 20+ 35
goldfish 5-10 41
cockatoo up to 70 70
Rabbits can be expected to live 5-15 years.
Rabbits can be expected to live 5-15 years.
Bulldogs have a lifespan lower than many dogs.
Bulldogs have a lifespan lower than many dogs.
Goldfish normally live between five and 10 years.
Goldfish normally live between five and 10 years.
Be sure to feed your dog or cat a high-quality diet that provides adequate nutrition.
Be sure to feed your dog or cat a high-quality diet that provides adequate nutrition.
Ferrets live an average of eight years.
Ferrets live an average of eight years.
Macaws can sometimes outlive their owners.
Macaws can sometimes outlive their owners.
The life expectancy of most parakeets is around 10-15 years.
The life expectancy of most parakeets is around 10-15 years.
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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Discussion Comments


I have two anoles named cheech and chong. I got them for my husband as a birthday present. Chong is thriving but cheech seems to be going blind. I'm not sure whats wrong with him but I hope he pulls out of it. I'd hate to lose him.

I also have two gerbils, taji and marlie. They are the funniest little things anyone has ever seen. Also have a one year old cat. His name is tink and he's spoiled rotten, especially since we got him fixed last week. He loves his cat nip.


well i have this damra (that's a goat crossed with a sheep) and she's about eight months old now and she is quiet when we have the radio on. she just sits there and listens.


My husband had a Boston Terrier from the time he was a boy(11). After we were married I had the joy of playing with the dog and getting close to it! He was very active up until the day he died. He was 16 years old. That is uncommon for any type of bulldog I have heard.


Besides, cats are animals that need to go outside. sure they might live a little longer but what's the quality of life if you keep it cooped up and away from other cats?


I have a male cat that is 14 years old he's been in door out door his whole life and has only been to the vet once since he got fixed. Very recently one of his teeth got kicked in and had to be removed. we found him in a bush when he was about a week old and raised him ourselves. he is an anomaly I guess cause he's still alive but he's always been lucky I think he will make 17!


I had a Siamese Fighting Fish (the dept. pet I was forced to take home) that lived eight years. And, an anole is one of those little green lizards that can turn brown; pet stores usually call them chameleons. Technically, this is incorrect; they are not true chameleons, which I think are native to Africa.

You very seldom see a real chameleon in a pet store, and when you do, they're pretty expensive. The last one I saw in a pet store, which was many years ago, was something like $75. Anoles are usually under $5.

It was my understanding that chameleons were difficult pets to keep alive, that they didn't do well in captivity. Anoles are easy to keep; I used to feed mine mealworms, spiders, houseflies, bits of banana, and house them in an ordinary terrarium. I would spray water with a water bottle, heavily enough to leave big drops of water hanging off the plants in the terrarium, and that's how they drink.

If I remember correctly, they're native to the islands in the Caribbean Also, if I remember correctly, there is more than one species, but you don't see it (them?) in pet stores.

The male can blow out a rosy-colored pouch in his throat, but I've only seen this once. I think it generally has something to do with courting and mating. And no, you can't sex them; only they know who's a male and who's a female. If you try to grab them by the tail, it comes off. It'll grow back, but usually not as straight as the original.

Some people like to take them out and play with them, but watch out -- they're fast and jump very, very well. I didn't take mine out, as I was afraid of losing them and one of my cats subsequently finding them. They're 4-6" long and a lovely light, bright green color. They'll turn brown when alarmed. That's all I can think to tell you about, now. Hope this is useful.


how long is the life expectancy of a budgie?


My cat is 17 and she's still going strong. She gets beat up (by other cats) outside so spends most of her time inside now.


I have a rat and i love her dearly. she is like my best friend. I'm a senior in high school this upcoming school year 2010-2011. I got her when i was in the 10th grade, so she is about two years old. She developed a mammary tumor on her side. I am debating whether or not to have it removed. It isn't deadly, but i don't want to waste the $150 and then have her die in the next year. What should i do? - Ashley


i have the fattest budgie (or should i say big), seven years old and just as healthy and fit as he was at two years old. I feed him seeds and fruit, and let him out his cage to fly around every day almost.


I have five pets: three mice and two dogs, 10 months and six years old. Mice, over one year old.


I had a goldfish named Whale that lived for nine years. It die when we went on holiday and our neighbor looked after him(?). And she flushed him down the toilet! Sad face. That goldfish deserved an excellent burial.


About three years ago I found a wounded pigeon on my doorstep. It let me look at its wounded wing while it just stood there. When I opened my front door it just walked right in my house.

I took it in for a couple of days and then found a veterinarians assistant (who lives three miles from me) who nursed it back to good health. When the pigeon was healed it found its way back to my house. It stood at my window ledge and made a ruckus until I came. I couldn't believe it came back!

Every spring there are pigeons that return to the neighborhood but there's one pigeon that doesn't fly away from my window when I approach. I speak to it sweetly and it allows me to get pretty close.

My question is: could this be the same pigeon from three years ago? And does this make me a crazy pigeon lady?

I'm really glad this is anonymous.


My cat, who was an outdoor cat, lived to be around 22 in human years which is a lot longer than what the life expectancy of an outdoor cat is (4-5).


A healthy fish should live at least three years, if it's properly taken care of. I have wanted a dog for some time, but have stuck with cats because I'm afraid to get attached to the dog and then it doesn't live long (7 years).


i have a 3 month old goldfish.


i love your web site.


Is the life expectancy for goldfish measured in years or days. Days seems right.


what's an anole?


In response to the unneutered tom cat post. the first thing you need to do is get him nuetered. Cats go through 2 heat cycles per year, meaning that he could be responsible for many many unwanted cats over the years. many of which may end up in the shelter systems and be euthanized. So be responsible. Secondly, if he goes outside he is much more prone to disease (FeLV + FIV) as well as physical trauma (Dogs, wildlife, cars, poisoning etc)


A budgerigar is what you probably call a parakeet.


I have a frog that's over 75 years old.


A budgie is a parakeet - short for budgerigar


hmm...tricky...cuts and scratches from fighting and whatnot generally do not contribute majorly to the reduction of life expectancy.

However, no visits to vet can be a bad thing..does that include inhections/innoculations? If so, then I am afraid that your cat runs a large risk of disease and infection...


We own a non-neutered white tom cat who has never been to a vet in his life. He lives indoor/outdoor, but comes home every morning, occasionally with cuts and sore patches. He's five years old and still thriving. How old would you say he would live?


A budgie is a bird similar in appearance to the love bird.


Are anoles really kept as pets? I thought they were just considered pests.


A budgerigar is a type of parakeet native to Australia.


Does anyone have any clue what a Budgerigar or budgie is? I thought I was well-informed, but I've never heard of such a beast!

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