Cats make affectionate and loving pets and owning a cat can be very rewarding. Being a responsible cat owner is about providing your cat with everything they need to live a happy and healthy life. Here are some tips on caring for your cat.
1. Provide a safe and comfortable space for your cat
Cats are social animals. However, they are also very independent and need to have a space of their own where they feel safe. Make sure your cat has a bed or somewhere quiet to hide and sleep, away from the buzz of the family home. To have a happy cat, you must make sure that they are warm, safe, dry and clean.
2. Ensure you provide clean water and fresh food
You must make sure you clean your cat’s food and water bowls daily. Cats can be particular about cleanliness due to their strong sense of smell, so make sure their water bowl is cleaned daily, and that fresh water is available throughout the day. Fresh cat food shouldn't be left out for more than a day, as food that's sitting for too long can harbour bacteria and could make your cat unwell.
3. Spaying or neutering
As a responsible pet owner, it is recommended to spay or neuter your cat, especially if it goes outside. This not only protects cats from having unexpected pregnancies but reduces the spreading of disease and makes male cats less likely to fight or stray.
4. Feed your cat an appropriate diet
Cats are known to be fussy eaters, and some can refuse to eat certain brands of cat food. However, many 'human foods' are toxic to cats – such as grapes and chocolate, so avoid feeding your cat any of your scraps or unhealthy treats. Your vet may recommend diet changes according to the nutritional needs of your cat based on size, age, level of activity and breed.
5. Make sure your cat gets adequate exercise
Cats are hunters by nature and require exercise and stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Give them lots of play time by encouraging daily activity with toys, especially if your cat likes to stay indoors. If your cat doesn’t have enough exercise, they could be at risk of becoming overweight. Obesity can significantly reduce a cats quality of life, so keep them fit. Offer them cat towers and scratching posts to encourage them to jump, play and be active.
6. Look after their health
To keep your cat healthy and happy, make sure you get them checked by a vet regularly and keep their vaccinations up to date. How regularly you should visit your vet will depend on your cat's age, health and breed. Your vet will be able to advise on how often your cat will need a check-up. If you need to put your cat into a cattery it is essential to have a record of their vaccinations. If your cat appears ill, in pain or shows signs of unusual behaviour, its best to seek advice from your vet immediately. Your cat may require urgent treatment.
7. Coat, claws and teeth
While cats do self-groom, regular brushing and maintenance are essential to keep them healthy. This also helps you bond with your cat and gives you the chance to check for any signs of illness. Matted or dirty hair can cause cats distress and even pain. Certain breeds of cats will require more grooming than others but they all need their coats to be brushed weekly. Keep your cat's nails well-trimmed and have their teeth checked regularly. Your vet can do this or give you advice on how to do this.
Microchipping involves implanting a microchip that is around the size of a grain of rice, under the pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. The chip has a unique serial number which can be read by a scanner. Microchipping your cat and keeping details up-to-date means you're more likely to be reunited if they get lost, stray or are taken by someone.
Although microchipping is legally required for dogs it’s not currently compulsory for cats. Even if your cat stays indoors, it's encouraged to get them chipped for peace of mind in case they sneak out of an open window.
Giving your cat the best care and attention can depend on its breed. Use our Pawfect Care tool to learn all about your cat's breed and their quirks and needs.