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.
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.
© 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.