Wednesday 21 May 2014

How Accurate Is Guinness World Records On World's Oldest Cat?

Poppy - Photo: David Hedges SWNS
Guinness World Records states that a tortoiseshell cat from Bournemouth, UK is the world's oldest cat at 24, which is 114 years of age in human terms.

I don't believe it.  How do they know for sure?  The cat's name is Poppy.  She certainly looks like the old cat.  She has all the signs of an old cat: a coat that has seen better days, tired eyes, a slightly scruffy nose and a slightly pinched expression.

Poppy is certainly 24 years of age and this is certainly a very old age for a domestic cat but I would bet my bottom dollar that there are a lot of cats in the world that are 24 years of age and possibly older.

It is said that there is something in the order of 500,000,000 cats on the planet.  I'm talking about domestic/stray/feral cats.  Guinness World Records can't ask everybody how old their cat is.  The only way they can work out which cat is the oldest is to hope that somebody comes forward and declares to them that their cat is possibly the oldest.  This depends on the nature of the person who comes forward.  Many people will be living with a cat who is older than 24 years of age they have no interest whatsoever in Guinness World Records and therefore do not contact them.

In the case of Poppy, Mrs West, her owner, wrote to Guinness World Records in Feb 2014.

There are many stray cats who don't have a cat caretaker.  Perhaps one of these many millions of stray cats is older than 24 years of age.  It is quite likely.  In the past the oldest cat in the world would have been over 30 years of age.  The oldest cat ever was Creme Puff (page 171 GWR). She was born 3rd August 1967 and died 6th August 2005. Her age on death was 38 years 3 days. On that basis, you would have thought that the world's oldest cat at 2014 would be older than 24 years of age, perhaps something in the order of 30 years of age.  This is why I tend not to believe what Guinness World Records state on this occasion.

The truth of the matter is that it is impossible for Guinness World Records to be absolutely sure that the cat that they select as the oldest is truly the oldest cat in the world.  They are making a guess at it almost because it is impractical and impossible to be certain.

As the credibility of Guinness World Records turns on the fact that what they state is correct, this particular record should be dropped from their repertoire, in my opinion, in the same way that they dropped the world's fattest cat or the world's largest domestic cat.  It is always impossible to be sure about these records and in any case they can encourage bad behavior.


  1. Ofcourse there may be even older cats than Poppy.
    But, Guinness can only document what is reported to them.
    In any case, 24 years of age is to be acknowledged.
    She's beautiful.

  2. Pleased you agree with me Dee. It does make the whole Guinness WR thing a bit of a waste of time it seems to me.


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