Theophanes is a New-England-based blogger, traveler, writer, photographer, sculptor, and lover of cats.
Most animal lovers have heard wild and crazy stories about pets who have lived well past their life expectancy. Some of us may have even met or owned the odd 20-year-old dog or cat and called ourselves lucky, but how long can our common companions really last? Join me on a journey across the globe in search of only the most geriatric of pets. Here we shall meet some truly shocking record breakers.
The World's Oldest Dog
When I started looking into this record, I thought for sure the winner would be a Jack Russel or some other type of little dog. Actually, the current record holder for the world's oldest dog goes to an Australian Shepherd named Bluey. Bluey lived on a farm in Australia after he was born on June 7, 1910.
From here, he went on to live a long life with owners Les and Esma Hall, happily herding sheep for over 20 years, until his death November 14, 1939. Even then, he didn't die naturally in his sleep, as you would expect. Instead, he passed after being put to sleep. He was a grand 29 years and 160 days old.
There may have been other dogs even older, but Bluey holds the record because his birth and death could be verified. I have spent some time trying to find who the current living oldest dog is, but this seems to be a heated and contentious issue, with many of the runners-up being adopted from shelters without verifiable birth dates, all being around 22 years of age.
Besides this, I couldn't find anything more current than 2010, which is very current. So, who has the oldest living dog? This question will have to go unanswered for today.
The World's Oldest Cat
If you thought the world's oldest dog was impressive, then you simply must meet the world's oldest cat. He was a domestic mix named Crème Puff. Crème Puff got to witness a great deal of history in his unusually long life. He was born August 3, 1967, and he died 38 years and three days later, on August 6, 2005.
He was owned by Jake Perry, who got to enjoy the limelight of his very special cats for several years more, owning what at the time was the world's oldest living cat, Granpa. Granpa did not break his playmate's record, but he did make it to the ripe old age of 34 and some change. Both cats enjoyed eating a great deal of people food, including broccoli, asparagus, cream, and even coffee. Is this what made both last so long? Or was it in the water? All we know for sure is it wasn't genetic, as they were not related.
The current living oldest cat seems to go to another Texas resident named Scooter, who is a Siamese enjoying his early thirties. Not only is he a record holder, but he's also an animal of great intrigue, having traveled to 45 of the 50 United States. He's reportedly an active cat who loves people and visiting nursing homes.
Crème Puff died at age 38.
The World's Oldest Rat
This record has been on the books for quite a while—since 1995—so I am surprised it hasn't been broken yet. Fancy rats generally live to be around two years of age. Many years ago, I raised these wonderful little beasties, and my record was a neutered male I got from the shelter who lived to be four.
Four was still several years short of Rodney the Rat, currently listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having lived to be seven years and four months! Rodney was not a pet but a lab animal, although I have not been able to find what he was being used to research.
The World's Oldest Hermit Crab
Hermit crabs are terribly odd things to even have in the pet trade. Most people look at them like they're little more than moving rocks. As such, most do not live long in captivity, but a crab named Johnathan Livingston Crab of Florida has changed all that. He, well, she, really, is in her 40s now and still going strong, having outlasted her cage mate of 35 years.
Her owner, Carol Ann Ormes, is now in her 80s and is a legend herself within the hermit crab community. She allows her unusual pet a great deal of freedom and allowed it to run around her house in a pretty free-range situation. She also takes her out visiting, and on special occasions, allows her companion to eat lobster tail—apparently only the shell of which is worth munching on if you're a hermit crab. With a life like that, I think Johnathan Livingston Crab will probably be around for quite a bit longer!
The World's Oldest Goldfish
I know what you're thinking, goldfish don't live that long, especially if you buy them from Wal-Mart. They last what? Three weeks? But actually kept in the right environment, goldfish can last a long time.
Tish was one of those very special fish. He was won as a prize in a fair game in 1956. From here, it was Hilda Hand who took care of him for the next 43 years. Tish had another fishy companion in the beginning, Tosh—but Tish outlived him by several decades as Tosh died at 19 years of age. Tish lived in a bowl in Yorkshire, England, and actually went gray with age, turning from a vibrant orange to a gentlemanly silver. He died of natural causes, and his owner, not surprisingly, says she has no intention of ever trying to replace him.
The current oldest goldfish is probably Splash; another fish won at a British fairground in 1977. The last mention of him I could find was when he was celebrating his 38th birthday. No word if he's still alive or if he beat Tish's record.
The World's Oldest Parrot
Parrots are notoriously long-lived but are also horribly difficult pets. This means that although there are rumors of parrots living past 100 years, these birds likely went through a lot of owners, which means that proving their age is nearly impossible.
So for now, the record goes to a somewhat younger bird, Cookie the Cockatoo, who was one of the original animals at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago when it opened in 1934. She outlived all the other animals and died at the age of 83 after a brief illness.
The World's Oldest Horse
This particular record-breaker, if true, has to be one of the most stunning I have come across. Most horses live to be between 25-30 years old when they're allowed to reach their natural end. However, a stallion by the name of Old Billy didn't get that memo.
He was a barge horse in Woolston, England, that died in 1822 at the astonishing age of 62. It does not appear he enjoyed a life of luxury; instead, it seems as if he was worked well into his twilight years past the time his "bones exuded from his skin."
He was, however, a local celebrity and still has a bit of a cult (or is it colt?) following because his head and skull were preserved and are still on display today at the Warrington Museum and Art Gallery. Currently, there is a lot of dispute on who has the oldest living horse, but most contenders are in their early 50s.
Painting of Old Billy done during his lifetime.
© 2017 Theophanes Avery
Georgina on March 28, 2020:
I'm currently on my record rat - Tiffany, also a rescue, who's aged 4 and nearly 1 month... She was 1 year old when I adopted her in 2017. I'm not sure she'll make it much longer, bless her soul. She is blind, lost the use of her back legs at 3.5 (although up til this past fortnight dragged herself about pretty fast!) but she has a mammary tumour now too. Which will hinder her mobility even more. I have to make the heartbreaking decision to euthanase her fairly soon I think. Bless all these incredible pets. Fascinating post. Hugs from Tiffany! xxx
Fay Favored from USA on August 19, 2019:
So wonderful about these animals. Longest I had goldfish was 11 years, rabbit 9 years and a cat 18 years old. Loved them all.
Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 08, 2017:
Those are pretty impressive ages. I knew a horse who was 35 and I thought it was extremely old. But 62, Wow!
FlourishAnyway from USA on November 07, 2017:
My childhood cat lived to 23 and she loved cantaloupe too! I really enjoyed this article. I’ve had kitties reach their late teens and it sure hurts to lose a family member.
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on November 07, 2017:
Hey, Peggy Woods, thanks for stopping by and commenting! Yes, hermit crabs are often sold on touristy beaches as pets for small children - usually in cages that can't keep them alive for long... I too have had a few kitties who enjoyed people food, even one who loved cantelope! He lived to be 16. :)
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 07, 2017:
Those are some amazing statistics on longevity for the different animals. I did not know anyone would have hermit crabs as pets. Our little dog and our cat both like bites of people food. Would be nice to think that we are extending their lives by allowing them some bites of what we eat.
Meet Oscar, the World's Oldest Pig!
The 20-year-old Dallas resident has an oversized personality to match his world record
When Oscar was crowned the Guinness Book of World Records’ oldest living pig, he had a party and celebrated with friends.
Wearing a custom-made necklace bearing his name, the 20-year-old potbellied pig made the rounds and grunted hellos at family, neighbors and old babysitters, who shared their memories of the times they’d had together.
Remember when your mom had to train you from jumping on the couch because you’d gotten too big?
Remember when you used to come by my yard to eat the peaches from my tree?
“Each person has a different memory of Osc,” says owner Stacy Kimbell, who shares her Dallas home with Oscar, her boyfriend Terry Mackin, Mackin’s potbellied pig Ziffle, two guinea pigs and a cat.
Yes, Kimbell and Mackin each have their own pigs, and it was a very strange kind of serendipity that it ended up that way. The couple first met at a club, then had a safe first date over lunch, after which they discovered their unlikely common thread.
When the couple moved in together, they expected Oscar and Ziffle to get along and become best friends. But it wasn’t to be – 10 years later, the two former single pigs are pretty much still single pigs.
“They don’t like each other,” Kimbell tells PEOPLEPets.com. “They have two separate houses, they fight over who stands on what rug. We had great hopes for them, but it didn’t work out.”
130-lb. Oscar is still getting along fine, but showing signs of his old age. He suffers from arthritis and takes chewable pills and turmeric powder to help with his joint pain. His diet has also gotten healthier: he now consumes mostly fruits and vegetables. A typical meal is canned or fresh peaches, pumpkin or pears, along with some olive oil, apples and nuts.
Kimbell used to walk Oscar on a leash, but he moves around much more slowly now, so he sticks to the backyard and inside the house. Sometimes, in the middle of the day, Kimbell will hear him calling for her.
Oscar will let out a long growl that means, “Where are you in the house? I’m looking for you.”
She’ll say, “I’m right here, Osc!”
And then she’ll hear his hooves going “click, click, click” down the stone floors like a pair of high heels, coming to find her.
World’s Oldest Known Wild Bird Hatches Another Chick… At Age 70!
Turns out age and Wisdom really DO go hand in hand.
A mōlī (Laysan albatross) named Wisdom recently hatched another chick on the remote Pacific island where she lives. And while that may seem like a pedestrian feat at first glance, Wisdom is no ordinary bird. At an estimated age of 70 years old, National Geographic says that Wisdom is thought to be the oldest wild bird ever recorded!
In animals like primates and humans, while males can continue to reproduce well into old age—10th U.S. President John Tyler (who was born in 1790) has a living grandson—females have a finite period of fertility. But in the case of other species like birds, that biological clock can tick at a much different pace. For Wisdom the albatross, that means she has the time to hatch at least 30 chicks over her lifetime, despite her species of bird being particularly slow breeders.
Sean Dooley, national public affairs manager for BirdLife Australia, told The Guardian that because of Wisdom's ability to only nest every two years, "the international bird community looks forward to see if she's been able to come back and nest [again]. The odds are stacked against them so much, whenever it happens it's always a cause for celebration." And here at Daily Paws, we're always down for a party… especially when there's photos of baby animals involved.
While birds are well-known for their long lives as pets in captivity (cockatoos are regularly recorded living to 80 years and beyond!) birds in the wild face many more hardships. These challenges are not only in terms of finding food and migrating to mate, but in having to deal with harsher environmental factors, changing climates, and the constant threat posed by armed humans. But in spite of all that, Wisdom continues to persevere, outliving several mating partners and even biologist Chandler Robbins, who first recorded and tagged Wisdom back in 1956.
"Each year that Wisdom returns, we learn more about how long seabirds can live and raise chicks," said USFWS biologist Beth Flint. "Her return not only inspires bird lovers everywhere, but helps us better understand how we can protect these graceful seabirds and the habitat they need to survive into the future."
Meet Corduroy, The World's Oldest Cat
This handsome, half Maine Coon cat is Corduroy, who at age 26 holds the Guinness World Record as the oldest living cat. Adopted from an Oregon shelter in 1989, when his owner Reed Okura was only 7 years old, Corduroy sets the bar high for aging cats by living an active life that includes jumping on and off counters and "gliding up" stairs.
At this point Corduroy is in excellent health, and his owner keeps him on a low-protein diet to protect his kidney function. Okura shares what she feels is Corduroy's secret to health in old age:
“I strongly believe the key to his longevity is the fact we did not declaw him and allowed him to go outside. He was able to defend himself and exercise his body and mind by hunting. Corduroy still catches critters but is not as good as he once was, thankfully.
It is an honor to have Corduroy in our life, I honestly don’t remember much of my life without him. He is a wonderful companion and I hope to give him a happy and healthy life for many more years.”
The longest lived cat in history was Creme Puff, who lived to be 38. Go for the record, Corduroy!
Graves of nearly 600 cats and dogs in ancient Egypt may be world’s oldest pet cemetery
The cats and dogs lie as if asleep, in individual graves. Many wore collars or other adornments, and they had been cared for through injury and old age, like today’s pets. But the last person to bury a beloved animal companion in this arid Egyptian land on the coast of the Red Sea did so nearly 2000 years ago.
The site, located in the early Roman port of Berenice, was found 10 years ago, but its purpose was mysterious. Now, a detailed excavation has unearthed the burials of nearly 600 cats and dogs, along with the strongest evidence yet that these animals were treasured pets. That would make the site the oldest known pet cemetery, the authors argue, suggesting the modern concept of pets wasn’t alien to the ancient world.
“I’ve never encountered a cemetery like this,” says Michael MacKinnon, a zooarchaeologist at the University of Winnipeg who has studied the role of animals across the bygone Mediterranean but was not involved with the new work. “The idea of pets as part of the family is hard to get at in antiquity, but I think they were [family] here.”
Archaeozoologist Marta Osypinska and her colleagues at the Polish Academy of Sciences discovered the graveyard just outside the city walls, beneath a Roman trash dump, in 2011. The cemetery appears to have been used between the first and second centuries C.E., when Berenice was a bustling Roman port that traded ivory, fabrics, and other luxury goods from India, Arabia, and Europe.
In 2017, Osypinska’s team reported unearthing the remains of about 100 animals—mostly cats—which appear to have been cared for like pets. But the exact nature of the site wasn’t clear. Salima Ikram, an expert on ancient Egyptian animals at the American University in Cairo, said at the time that the bones might have been discarded rubbish.
Fieldwork being conducted at the Berenice pet cemetery
Osypinska and her colleagues have now excavated the remains of 585 animals from the site and analyzed the bones in detail. A veterinarian helped the team determine health, diet, and cause of death.
The animals appear to have been laid gently in well-prepared pits. Many were covered with textiles or pieces of pottery, “which formed a kind of sarcophagus,” Osypinska says. More than 90% were cats, many wearing iron collars or necklaces threaded with glass and shells. One feline was placed on the wing of a large bird.
The team found no evidence of mummification, sacrifice, or other ritual practices seen at ancient animal burial places such as the Ashkelon site in Israel. At Berenice, most of the animals appear to have died from injury or disease. Some cats have fractured legs or other breaks that may have been caused by falls or from being kicked by a horse. Others died young, possibly from infectious diseases that spread rapidly in the cramped city.
The dogs, which make up only about 5% of the burials (the rest are monkeys), tended to be older when they died. Many had lost most of their teeth or suffered periodontal disease and joint degeneration.
“We have individuals who have very limited mobility,” Osypinska says. Yet many lived long lives and their injuries healed. “Such animals had to be fed to survive,” she says, “sometimes with special foods in the case of the almost-toothless animals.”
A cat from Berenice was wearing a bronze collar.
The fact that humans took such good care of the animals, especially in a rough-and-tumble region where almost all resources had to be imported—and that they took such care in burying them, just as many modern owners do—suggests the people of Berenice had a strong emotional bond with their cats and dogs, the team concluded last month in World Archaeology . “They weren’t doing it for the gods or for any utilitarian benefit,” Osypinska says. Instead, she argues that the relationship between people and their pets was “surprisingly close” to the one we see today.
Ikram is convinced. “This is a cemetery,” she says. “And it sheds an interesting light on the inhabitants of Berenice and their relationships with their animals.”
Archaeologist Wim Van Neer is also on board. “I’ve never seen a cat with a collar” from so long ago, says Van Neer, of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, who has studied the relationship between people and animals in the ancient world, including at Berenice.
Still, he says it’s possible the people of Berenice valued their cats and dogs for nonsentimental reasons. A seaport would have teemed with rats, he notes, making cats a prized working animal. And although a few of the pups at the site were small dogs akin to today’s toy breeds—and thus likely had little utility except as lap dogs—larger canines could have guarded homes and consumed refuse. “I don’t believe it was just a loving relationship.”
Osypinska hopes the new work will convince other archaeologists that companion animals are worth study. “At first, some very experienced archaeologists discouraged me from this research,” arguing the pets were irrelevant for understanding the lives of ancient peoples, she says. “I hope the results of our studies prove that it’s worth it.”