There are about eight million cats in Britain, which makes them one of our most popular pets. Cats are, of course, easier to look after than dogs. But we still have a duty to make sure our cats are properly cared for so they can lead happy, healthy lives.
All cats need a warm, dry, safe place to live. So don’t keep your cat in a leaky old shed in the garden. Cats like to be cosy. They also like to doze, so make sure your cat has a comfy place to sleep, preferably some sort of basket that is enclosed on three sides.
Experts also recommend that you provide somewhere high for your cat to rest, perhaps on top of a book case. Cats like to climb and they feel safe if they are high up. A hiding place is also a must, as cats can be timid creatures.
Some cats stay indoors at all times, so they need a litter tray. Place the litter tray away from food and drink and keep it clean. If your cat also goes outside, you can hopefully train it to go to the loo in the garden so that you don’t have to clean out the litter tray or put up with the smell!
Safety in the home
Make sure the home is safe. Cats – especially young ones – are inquisitive and like to explore. They are also playful and can easily knock things over or pull things down, sometimes causing damage or even injury. Obviously, chemicals and human medicines are not good for cats. They are also particularly sensitive to antifreeze, which can prove fatal. So always keep harmful substances locked away.
If you are moving house, you should keep your cat indoors for two weeks until it acclimatises to its new home.
Cats are territorial and often become attached to a particular place. If you are moving house, you should keep your cat indoors for two weeks until it acclimatises to its new home. You should also take precautions when you first bring a cat home, to make sure it doesn’t stray.
Your cat might not always like company, but it doesn’t mean it won’t get bored or frustrated. It needs plenty of space to roam around and climb. You might also find that your cat enjoys playing with toys. A scratching post is another good idea, certainly if you want to prevent your cat from ruining your favourite sofa.
You might be a vegetarian, but your cat most certainly is not. Cats need to eat meat as part of a balanced diet. They also prefer to eat several small meals a day. However, you should always stick to the recommended amounts of food. If you overfeed your cat, it will become unhappy and unwell. And no one likes a fat cat!
Most pet owners arrange for their cats to be neutered so they don’t have to deal with either kittens or an aggressive Tom. You should also consult your vet about vaccinations and parasite treatments for your moggie. An annual health check is a good idea, as well as a decent cat insurance policy.
Cats typically live for 14 years or more, which means you can enjoy many happy times together. If you notice a change in your cat’s behaviour, it could be a sign of illness or injury. But it could also indicate that your pet is bored, distressed or afraid. If you are particularly worried or the problem persists, you might want to contact a behaviour specialist.
Your vet might be able to help or you could get in touch with the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) at www.asab.org, or the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) at www.apbc.org.uk.