Health Secrets of Poppy, the World’s Oldest Cat that Lived to Be 24 Years Old

by Patrick Mahaney on July 16, 2014

Health Secrets of Poppy, the WorldThis article originally appeared on Dr. Mahaney’s Pet-Lebrity News column on as Health Secrets of Poppy, the World’s Oldest Cat that Lived to Be 24 Years Old.

It’s always remarkable to hear about pets living well into their geriatric years. Even better is when a pet’s life is a healthy one lacking significant suffering from disease, trauma, and toxicity. Such isn’t often the case these days in the general pet population, as or companion canines and felines are fatter, unhealthier, and die of diseases like cancer more often than ever (with the numbers projected to continue to rise).

Recently, the Guinness World Records crowned Poppy with the title of the World’s Oldest Living Cat at the ripe age of 24 years. Poppy, is a femaletortoiseshell domestic shorthaired cat, came into this world in February 1990, and hails from Bournemouth, England. Marguerite Corner adopted Poppy into the family fold 19 years ago at five years of age. Poppy currently lives with Corner’s daughter Jacqui West and shares the household with a hamster, four other cats, and two rabbits.

Although Poppy is reported to be deaf and blind, she still rules the roost in consistent fashion with her tortoiseshell genetics (as the “tortie” is notoriously ornery). West says “Poppy is definitely the top cat and she is still quite feisty. If one of the other cats tries to eat her food she will bite them on the ear.”

How has Poppy survived to such an advanced age? West speculates the secret is Poppy’s food and health habits in stating “people always ask what we put Poppy’s longevity down to and I guess she has a good diet and lots of exercise. She keeps herself fit by walking around and she eats a lot. She has biscuits in the morning and tinned food later on. She’s never been a big cat though. “

Health Awareness

I am pleased to hear that exercise has always been a part of Poppy’s health regimen and that she’s tended to be on the slim side.  Pets that are thinner live longer and are less prone to health conditions arising from being overweight or obese including:

Arthritis and Degenerative Joint Disease (the progression of arthritis)

Traumatic Joint and Disk Injury (cruciate ligament rupture, intervertebral disc disease, etc.)

Cardiovascular disease (heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke, etc.)

Metabolic ailments (diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, hypothyroidism, etc.)


I’m not quite sure what West means by “biscuits”, but I speculate that she’s referring to kibble (dry cat food).  Additionally, by “tinned food”, West likely means canned cat food.  Hopefully, the quantity of “biscuits” Poppy eats has been kept to a minimum, as kibble is a format of food that is radically different from the way nature intends cats to eat.  Canned food is typically more biologically appropriate to the carnivorous needs of our feline friends provided it lacks undesirable ingredients like grain and protein ‘meals and by-products’, artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, and others.Poppy also occasionally eats human foods, of which I am a big advocate for all pets’ regular consumption.  West states “she is partial to the odd takeaway. We sometimes give her a bit of KFC chicken, Fish and chips and even the odd bit of kebab meat.”  Although I’m not crazy about Poppy eating fast food, hopefully West is giving her white or dark-meat baked KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and minimizing her intake of chips (french fries) and breaded coating on fish.

In general, I see my patients living healthier lives when eating different combinations of human grade meat, vegetables, fruits, and fats in comparison to processed kibble and canned food diets containing feed-grate ingredients. After all, nearly all commercially available pet foods (but for The Honest Kitchen) are made with ingredients deemed unfit for human consumption (i.e. feed-grade) and therefore are supposedly acceptable to be ingested by our animal companions.  In feeding our pets kibble and certain brands of canned or moist (pouched) foods made with feed-grade ingredients we may be exposing them to substances that are potentially toxic on a short or long-term basis and are carcinogenic (see PetMD article: Are You Poisoning Your Companion Animal by Feeding ‘Feed-Grade’ Foods?)

As for Poppy, she was a wonderful cat who unfortunately passed away on June 6, 2014. This news is still so recent, thoughts and best wishes are with Poppy’s family.

Do you have a senior pet who has a story to tell?  Feel free to share in the Comments section.

Thank you for reading this article.  Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).
Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.

Copyright of this article (2014) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format

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