Japan's population is known for its long life expectancy, ranking number one on both the World Health Organization's list and the United Nation's World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision. However, it's not only Japan's human population that's living longer than ever, but also its animal population. According to a study conducted by the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, the average ages of dogs and cats have hit record highs of 13.2 years and 11.9 years respectively, seeing cats' lifespans increasing by an average of 2.3 times and dogs' by 1.5 times in the last 25 years. Japan is a country renowned for its number of animal lovers, and it would appear that all of that affection is rubbing off.
Why do Japan's animals live for so long? Experts on the subject have cited access to better healthcare, improved vaccination programs, more animals living comfortably inside, and higher-quality food as the main reasons behind the increased lifespans of the country's dogs and cats, though Japanese pet parents' love for their animals must also be acknowledged. There are more cats and dogs than children in Japan, with more people choosing to indulge their pets than to start a human family. Indeed, current figures stand at 19.8 million cats and dogs, and 15.9 million children.
Japan's pets are undeniably pampered, with many pet parents choosing the best foods, customized clothing, hair and beauty treatments, and even massages. Records produced by the Japan Pet Food Association show that, in 2015, pet parents spent an average of ¥7,800 ($75.26) per month on their dogs and ¥5,000 ($48.24) per month on their cats, with the country's pet trade heralded as one of the most sophisticated in the world.
As well as revealing that Japan's cats and dogs are living longer, healthier lives, the study also noted that deaths by infectious diseases had dropped to 2.5% for dogs and 12% for cats, that mixed breed dogs tend to enjoy longer lives than their purebred friends, and that female cats tend to live longer than their male counterparts.