When we think of the cat, most of us picture a sleek little beast that can’t even run without being jumped on or snagged by its owner.
But a new study suggests cats may actually live longer than they used a decade ago.
The new research found that the cats in the study actually had a shorter lifespan than previous studies had suggested.
The study, published in the Journal of Animal Behavior and Ecology, found that cats lived an average of 1.3 years longer than the average for other cats and dogs.
The researchers also found that most of the cats lived in cities where there was a good amount of cat litter in the city.
The scientists, led by Dr. Daniela Pascual, a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Texas at Austin, also found the cats were less aggressive towards humans than previous research had suggested, and that they were less likely to become aggressive towards other cats than their non-cat peers.
“We found that, unlike in past studies, the cats showed a decreased tendency to attack other cats as they reached adulthood, and a more balanced diet,” Dr. Pascullo said in a statement.
“It is important to note that in these studies, we did not determine whether the cats would grow up to become more aggressive toward humans, but that they did appear to be more responsive to human contact.”
The study was conducted by a team led by Pascul at the UT Austin School of Veterinary Medicine, and included over 100 cats, all of which lived in Texas.
The team began by asking the cats to follow instructions that included providing food and water daily.
Once the cats learned how to use the litter box, they were given treats and were allowed to use it to play with the other cats.
At the end of the study, the researchers measured the cats’ lifespan using a special device that measures the amount of oxygen in the air and the length of time it takes for the cat to reach adulthood.
“This is the first study to show that cats have a longer lifespan than previously thought, which is significant because it suggests that the cat’s survival depends on the amount and timing of interactions with humans,” Dr Pascuel said.
“In other words, we think that the longevity of a cat depends on its environment.”
A more detailed analysis of the data also revealed that the average lifespan of cats in urban settings was slightly less than that of cats found in rural areas.
However, that difference in lifespan did not appear to impact how the cats interacted with other animals, the study found.
“The study shows that cats are more responsive than dogs to human interaction, which we expect to result in a higher likelihood of survival and reproduction for a cat,” Dr Tania Oquendo, one of the researchers, said in the statement.
It’s worth noting that this study did not find any correlation between the amount or timing of cat interaction and lifespan.
However the team did note that the animals were living longer because of their improved diets, which meant the cats could get more exercise, and possibly get to eat more food.
“Given that cats were not getting the amount needed for health maintenance that dogs did, we expect that cats will be healthier and happier in their later years,” Dr Oquando said.
A number of factors have been suggested as contributing to the shorter lifespan of felines.
The cats could have been bred to live longer, because there are fewer cats left in the wild, there are less opportunities for cats to breed, and the breeders were less able to keep up with the demand for cats.
A study from the University to Prevent Cat Suffering, published earlier this year, suggested that it was the “fatalistic” lifestyle that made cats more susceptible to disease.
According to the report, the average cat lifespan is just shy of 10 years.
“Our study shows cats do have a lifespan and there is no clear explanation as to why,” Dr C. Robert G. Bales, an assistant professor of genetics at the College of Veterinary Science and director of the Genetics and Genomics Center at the university, said, according to The Telegraph.
“Most of us, if we look at our pets, think that they are going to be healthy and happy forever, but if we do the opposite, we end up with more cats, fewer pets, and even fewer people who care for them.”