Cat care FAQs

Tortie and ginger catCats Protection's Helpline is asked many cat care questions, thus to make it easier for you we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions and their answers.

Please note:
If you have any concerns about your cat’s health or behaviour please contact your vet as soon as possible. These FAQs are designed to give you basic information and should not be seen as a replacement for veterinary advice.

Behaviour FAQs

Did you know that... ?

Cats can spend much of their time on their own. Although cats can form close social bonds with people and other cats, they are a species that is also happy to be on their own: unlike more obligatorily social species, like the dog, they do not need to have social contact.
The reason for this is that they developed from a species that is largely solitary and highly territorial.
Social contact tends to occur between cats that regard each other as part of a 'social group' - other cats tend to be avoided or chased away as they are seen as a threat to a resident cat's territory.

How can I introduce my new cat to my existing cat?

Because of the nature of the cat, introducing a new cat into a household is often stressful for both the resident cat and the new cat, so this process has to be carried out slowly and carefully. Although cats can obviously be very sociable with other cats, these close relationships only occur when cats recognise each other as part of an established 'social group': cats that are unfamiliar are usually seen as a big threat. This is because the ancestors of our modern cats evolved over millions of years as territorial and largely solitary animals, which needed to defend their territory from other cats in order to catch sufficient prey to survive.
Cats are most likely to form close relationships with other cats where they 'grow up' together, or where the relationship has developed over a long time. Resident cats will be very stressed by the sudden introduction of an unfamiliar cat and may react by being aggressive towards it, hiding away and avoiding the new cat, or showing other signs of stress, such as urine spraying or over-grooming. In fact, problems arising from the stress of introducing the new cat to existing cats are some of the most common reasons for cats being returned to Cats Protection adoption centres after homing. We therefore have to be very careful in the way that we introduce new cats into homes where there are already one or more resident cats.
The important aspect of the process of integration is that it should be slow and gradual. The newcomer should initially be introduced into a room that is not one of the main 'core' areas for the existing cat. This separate room should be set up with a litter tray, food, water bowl, comfy bed, toys and a scratching post. This room is a safe space for your new cat to get used to and to establish as the 'core' part of his territory. It is important for your new cat to relax into his surroundings and get to know you before facing the challenge of meeting your other cat.
Cats rely on scent for communication and identification much more then we do. Because of this, the introduction process starts with the 'swapping' of scent between the cats, for example by exchanging food bowls, toys and bedding. Only when the cats tolerate the scent of the other cat can we gradually progress so that they can see each other. Right through this process, the presence of the other cat is associated with something positive, such as attention, play, or a food treat.
Be prepared, integration can take anything from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the age, character and previous experiences of your cats. Taking your time will make it worthwhile in the end.

How can I integrate a cat into a household with dogs?

The success of introducing a cat to a dog, or vice versa, will depend on the character and previous experiences of both animals. Cats that have previously happily lived with a dog are likely to learn to accept a new dog more easily than are those that have either not seen dogs before, or been chased by them. Equally, dogs that have previously lived calmly with a cat are generally easier to introduce to a new cat than would those that have never seen cats or who have learned to chase them. The process of integration needs to be slow and careful to ensure that both animals are not stressed and that chasing and running responses do not become established.
The easiest time to integrate dogs and cats is during their 'socialisation period' (up to eight weeks of age in cats and 12 weeks in dogs), during which time puppies and kittens will accept the presence of the other individual as 'normal'.

Why do cats sleep all the time?

In their wild or feral state, cats need to spend a good proportion of their time hunting in order to catch enough food. Because the cat hunts alone, he only has himself to rely on to find enough food to survive, so has to keep going until he is successful. Hunting tends to take place when the natural prey species of the cat (small rodents) are active, which is mostly late in the evening and early in the morning. Because hunting is hard work for cats, they will tend to rest and sleep for much of the rest of the day to conserve energy. It often seems to us that our cats sleep a lot because they sleep during the day when we are up!
There are also differences in sleeping habits between individual cats: some cats are very inactive and will rest for a large proportion of the day and night. This particularly occurs when their activity patterns are inhibited in some way: for example indoor cats that do not have an adequately enriched environment may become very inactive.

Can a cat be trained?

Yes, cats can be trained. They can, for example, be taught to come when called, 'sit', or do tricks such as 'give a paw' and many cats will enjoy training sessions. Cats are, however, generally not as easy to train as dogs. One reason for this is that dogs are more likely to find their toys, their owner's attention and food treats 'rewarding' and will learn to do asks in order to be given these things. When training cats, it is important to find something that they really like, such as a prawn or piece of chicken, to reward them, so that they can learn new behaviours. Cats also tend to concentrate on training for a shorter period of time than dogs. Training sessions with cats, therefore, need to be kept short and sweet!
Cats, just like dogs, can be trained very successfully using 'clicker training'.
Cats are generally very easily house-trained. In most cases, kittens learn to toilet in the appropriate place when they are very young, when they are taken to the litter tray by their mother.

My cat is acting out of character, is something wrong?

Yes there could well be something wrong. Changes of behaviour are often an external indication of physical or psychological issues. Changes in eating or drinking, changes in activity levels, changes in social interaction, the development of aggression or hiding away could all be signs that something is amiss. You should first consult your vet to check that there are no physical problems: he or she should be able to refer you to a qualified behaviourist if the change appears to have a psychological origin.

Why is my cat spraying?

Although we find urine spraying unacceptable, spraying is actually a normal scent marking behaviour in cats. Cats use scent signals a great deal to orientate themselves and communicate with others. Facial and flank rubbing and scratching are other behaviours that also leave scent marks. Urine spraying is used more in unneutered male and female cats, especially toms, as it is used to indicate sexual activity. However, spraying will also occur in neutered cats. Spray marks tend to be used in those areas of a cat's territory where a cat feels insecure or threatened, such as where other cats are around. Most often this occurs outside, but can also occur indoors if a cat is stressed inside.

My cat is extremely frightened of a new cat in the neighbourhood. Is there anything I can do?

You are not alone this is a very common problem. Cats are naturally very territorial and where there are lots of cats in a small area, there can often be conflict. Conflict between cats in a neighbourhood can result in behaviours that are obviously related to conflict, such as wounds from fighting, or urine spraying in areas where territories overlap. However, some cats respond to the close proximity of other cats by becoming very nervous or frightened. This may result in them being unwilling to venture outside. Being stuck inside can have other effects on their behaviour, such as toileting indoors, being more clingy, or showing more aggression. Cats that are frightened in this way may also develop abnormal behaviours such as overgrooming or over-eating.
It is very difficult to discourage another cat from coming into your garden: cats' territories do not necessarily conform to our garden or house boundaries and a cat will want to patrol round areas that he perceives as his own territory. If you know the owner of the other cat, it may be possible to arrange a 'time-share' system whereby your cats are allowed out at different times of day and hence do not meet each other.
Sometimes cats are wary of going out through a cat flap because it is very open and exposed on the outside and they feel vulnerable to attack. Providing your cat with some 'cover' such as some plant pots, just outside the door may be enough to help him to get outside safely.
If your cat is very fearful, and the other cat is coming into the house, it may be best to temporarily close off your cat-flap to prevent him coming in. This will make your cat feel much more secure within the house. In this case, you will need to make sure that your cat has lots to do inside - enriching the environment with toys, climbing frames, hiding places and puzzle feeders will make staying inside more fun.

Home a CP cat FAQs

Did you know that... ?

We have many cats available for adoption across the country in our branches and adoption centres. For a picture story board guide to getting a cat from us, click here

Where is my nearest branch or adoption centre?

For a list of our branches and adoption centres, please use the link below.

How do I find the National Cat Centre (NCC)?

Click the link below for directions.

What is a homing visit?

We want to ensure that we find the perfect cat for you and that the cat will be happy in his new environment; this is why we carry out a homing visit before letting you take kitty home. Because all cats have different characters and will have had varied past experiences, the home visit will help us to be able to match the right cat for your circumstances.
A homing visit is also the perfect opportunity for you to ask us any questions that you may have.

Do you have any pedigree cats?

Most cats that are rehomed by Cats Protection are non-pedigree, but we are seeing increasing numbers of pedigree cats coming into our care. It really is pot luck as to whether a branch or adoption centre will have a pedigree cat (check branch and adoption centre websites regularly).
If you are unable to get a pedigree cat from us, you may wish to try the rescue arms of many breed societies. Details of these can be found via publications such as Your Cat or Cat World, or by phoning the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) on 01278 427 575.

Do you have kittens available?

Cats Protection does have kittens for rehoming, particularly during the breeding months, but we would encourage you to think about rehoming an older cat, as they have many fantastic qualities. Unlike a kitten, an older cat is housetrained and they tend to be calmer.

Health FAQs

Did you know that...?

Cats should not be given cow's milk because they can be intolerant of lactose, a sugar found in milk. Giving a cat cow's milk, especially in larger quantities, may cause diarrhoea.

Do lilies pose a threat to my cat’s health?

Lilies are extremely poisonous to cats. Signs of poisoning can include continued vomiting, blindness, paralysis, renal failure, coma and death. It is not only the ingestion of the plant that can cause such signs in cats, brushing past the flower and then grooming the pollen from the fur can also have the same effect. It is currently thought that all parts of the lily plant can be toxic to cats, including the leaves and petals, not just the stamen or pollen and the toxic dose is unknown.
Identified as the most dangerous types of lily are: the Easter Lily (Lilium Longiflorum), the Tiger Lily (Lilium Tigrinum), the Rubrum Lily (Lilium Speciosum), the Stargazer Lily (Lilium Orientalis), the Japanese Show Lily (Lilium Lancifolium), Asiatic Lilies and species of the Day Lily (Hemerocalis), but do take care with all types of lily. Lilies are becoming increasingly popular in bouquets and incidents of poisoning are increasing according to the RSPCA, but do not panic, just use your common sense when dealing with lilies and avoid including them in bouquets. The RSPCA is currently campaigning for clearer labeling about the dangers to cats on bouquets and plants.

What diet should I feed a cat?

Cats are carnivores (meat-eating animals) and should not be fed a vegetarian diet. Also avoid feeding a cat dog food as it doesn't contain the correct nutrients for felines. Nowadays, commercial cat foods are specially designed to meet a cat's dietary needs and provide all the nutrients they need. Kittens, pregnant and lactating queens have specific nutritional requirements.

How can I keep my cat's teeth clean and healthy?

Many adult cats suffer from heavy build-up of plaque or calculus on their teeth which causes them great discomfort when eating and will eventually lead to a refusal to eat and/or teeth loss.
Plaque and calculus can be removed by a veterinary surgeon while the cat is under a general anaesthetic. You can also buy food which loosens plaque and calculus while eating and teeth cleaning products are available. Many cats do not like having their teeth brushed; however, if brushing is started when they are young kittens tolerance levels increase.

What vaccinations does my cat need?

Your cat will need protection against feline enteritis and cat 'flu. Depending on your circumstances he may also need vaccination against feline Leukaemia and chlamydophilosis. For more detailed information about diseases and when to vaccinate click here

Can FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) be passed from cats to humans?

No. This virus cannot be passed from cat to human. It is transmitted between cats via bodily fluids, most commonly by saliva through bites and in some cases from mother to kittens. Affected cats have an ineffective immune system and are vulnerable to subsequent infections (eg chest infections). However, some cats infected with the virus may live a full, healthy life. Cats with FIV shoud be kept indoors to reduce the spread of the disease to other cats. Currently there is no vaccine available against FIV in the UK.

What should I do if my cat is hit by a car?

Only move your cat if it is absolutely necessary as movement could cause further damage. If you have to move him because he is in a dangerous place or your vet advises you to do so, follow this technique. Place a board, tray or coat behind the cat, gently slip both hands; palms facing upwards, under his shoulders and hindquarters and slide him onto the board (take care not to disturb his position in case of injury).

What should I do if I discover an injured cat and I am not the owner?

If the cat is moveable, take him to a vet and inform the veterinary staff that you are not the owner. If the cat has no identification, spread the word in your neighbourhood that you have discovered an injured cat and taken him to the vet. Putting up some posters may help to inform the owners of their cat's whereabouts.

Can cats get sunburn?

Cats, like humans, can burn in strong sunshine, with white and pale-coloured felines being the most a risk. If you have a pale-coloured cat, make sure that he has sun block on his ears and nose, the two areas most likely to burn. Use a waterproof, non-toxic sunscreen which your cat can’t lick off and reapply the cream throughout the day. Ask your vet for a suitable sun cream to use. Try to keep your cat indoors between 10am and 3pm this is when the sun is hottest. Always provide a shady retreat for hot cats.

CP and rehoming FAQs

Did you know that...?

If you suspect that someone is being cruel to an animal you should contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or visit its website
Cats Protection is a welfare and rehoming charity, we do not investigate cases of cruelty.

I can no longer care for my cat, what should I do?

There are many reasons why a cat is signed over to our care, from relationship break ups to elderly people having to go into a care home. It can be a heartbreaking time and we will do all that we can, but you will need to be patient.
Our branches in particular, can have long waiting lists for places in pens. With many requests for help, branches have to prioritise, giving assistance to cats in dire and immediate need of our help. Our adoption centres tend to have more facilities available, but will also be busy at peak times.
If you are sure that you can no longer care for your cat, the first thing to do is obtain the phone number of your local branch or adoption centre. You can do this from our website, by phoning our Helpline on 03000 12 12 12 or by looking in Yellow Pages. For branches, you may have to leave an answer phone message if you ring during the day, as many of the volunteers will be at work. Rest assured that your call will be returned and suitable arrangements made.
If you choose to put your cat into Cats Protection's care, you will be asked to sign to confirm the decision. This really is your last opportunity to reconsider your decision, as details of the cat's new owners will not, in any circumstances, be released later down the line.

There's a stray in my garden, what should I do?

Given the nature of strays, we would advise that you ask your neigbours whether there is a cat missing; often cats believed to be strays do, in fact, belong to someone local.
In many cases, we will not be able to come out and collect a stray immediately and would ask you to feed the cat until we can get someone to trap him (especially in the summer). During the winter, we will ask whether there is somewhere dry for the cat to go and food for him to eat, until we can get to you.
If a stray cat was injured we will ask the finder to take the cat to the nearest vet. Once the cat is stable and the vet confirms that it has no owner, they may contact Cats Protection and request that we take him into our care.
You can also check for owners looking for their lost cats or report a found cat on lost & found websites such as Animal Search UK

Neutering FAQs

What is neutering?

Neutering is a surgical procedure carried out under anaesthetic. In a male cat, both testes are removed from small incisions made in the scrotum. In females, the uterus and ovaries are removed via an incision either on the left side or underneath.

When can a female cat start reproducing?

Puberty usually occurs at around five to eight months in cats, although it can happen as early as four months depending on the breed of cat. We recommend neutering both male and female cats from an early age. However, it is important to note that the vet responsible for your cat will specify when they are prepared to carry out the neutering operation - usually at around four months of age. Your vet will consider each case on its own merits. Cats Protection’s current policy is to neuter pet cats from four months and ferals from weaning age.

Can you tell me about early neutering?

Early neutering is proven to be a safe and effective method, avoiding many of the potential complications of neutering later in life.
There is no evidence to show that it inhibits growth, or causes urinary problems, and experience show kittens resume their normal activities and routines after surgery much more quickly than adult cats.
Cats Protection now provides an early neutering register so that you can find an early neutering vet in your area - Click here

How can I tell if my kitten is male or female?

To tell if your kitten is male or female, you will need to lift the tail and look at the back end. Both sexes will have two holes but on a female the holes will be fairly close together, whereas on a male there will be a space where the testicles will develop.

What is the process for neutering?

You’ll need to book an initial appointment for the operation. Vets may require the cat to be brought for a pre-anaesthetic check before the day of the operation. The cat will normally be admitted between 8am-10am in the morning and able to be picked up that evening and will need to have been kept indoors without food for some of the night before. Your vet will advise.

WIll the neutering process hurt my cat?

Modern anaesthetics and pain relief mean that the process is really painless these days. Many vets also operate using a tiny incision on the left side of the cat, reducing pain in comparison to the equivalent procedure in dogs or humans. Vets will also give the cats pain relief injections covering the period after surgery. If you are unsure, please speak with your vet.

What aftercare will the cat need?

The vet will probably advise you to keep the cat indoors for a few days after surgery. It may need to wear a buster collar,a plastic lampshade shape collar to stop it chewing its stitches. Stitches may need removing after seven or 10 days, or may be dissolvable. Male cats have no sutures and are normally able to go outdoors again within two days of surgery. In the longer term, cats will have a lower energy requirement and so will need less food.

How will my cat benefit?

The cat will be less likely to wander, stray, call (if female), spray (if male). The chance of contracting some infectious cat diseases will be reduced, as will the likelihood of developing mammary tumours (breast cancers), pyometra (life threatening womb infections), testicular cancer, and many other illnesses. Male cats in particular will improve in physical body condition and their urine will smell less pungent!

Will the cat get fat?

Neutered cats need less food after surgery, so you will need to reduce their daily food intake after they are neutered. Neutering in itself doesn’t make cats fat.

I or someone else I know has a lot of cats we need help with neutering. Can CP help?

CP can provide help with neutering cats in situations where there are many cats in a household. We take a non-judgemental approach, recognising that in these cases fast action is needed. To achieve success we are reliant on owners cooperating with us throughout the process.
We can sometimes take a third party referral, but can only act with the consent of an owner. We are not a law enforcing body nor do we have any legal powers, so can only act with an owner’s consent and collaboration.
Help is available through our branches, adoption centres and Helpline. Please contact 03000 12 12 12 for more information.

I need help with a feral colony. Can CP help with neutering?

Feral cats are those either born wild or that have lived so long away from humans that they can no longer be found new homes as pets. They are the same species as our pets and are equally protected in law.
An uncontrolled feral colony will grow quickly; the cats will be susceptible to disease and may also become a nuisance. Simply removing the cats is not a long-term solution, as a new colony will soon move in.
The best option, therefore, is to neuter all of the resident feral cats within as short a time frame as possible. Over a period of years this will reduce the size of the colony. A controlled, healthy and manageable colony will deter other ferals from moving in and will keep vermin levels down.
We may be able to help towards the cost of neutering a feral colony, provided that the cats are returned to their original site.
The contribution is for assistance with neutering costs only and must not be used for other veterinary treatment or euthanasia. Your application needs to be made in advance of any neutering taking place, as payment cannot be made after the event. Our local branches may be able to help both with costs and practical assistance - depending on their resources and volunteers. In areas where we do not have a branch we may be able to provide financial assistance.
For more information about help with feral neutering please phone our Helpline on 03000 12 12 12 and choose option 3 (lines open from 9.30am-1pm).

What behavioural signs does an unneutered tom display?

Unneutered toms tend to be larger and generally more confident than neutered males. They tend to maintain a large territory area, as they will cover a large area looking for females that are coming into season. Because it is so important for toms to maintain a large territory to reproduce, they are more likely to fight with other cats and leave urine spray marks inside or outside.

Environment FAQs

Did you know that... ?

Moving house can be a stressful experience for a cat. You can lessen the impact by keeping your cat well away from the mayhem of packing, either by checking him into a cattery or by keeping him in a cleared room that has his own litter tray, bed and toys.
On the moving day itself, transport your cat with some familiar items including any material he normally sleeps on. If travelling by car it is very likely that your cat will be sick as most cats are not good passengers - prepare for this eventuality.
When settling into your new house, it is important to keep your cat inside the house until he has settled in and got used to the new inside environment. The minimum period before he should be allowed out is two weeks, but more timid or nervous cats may well need to be kept in for longer. To start with, keep your cat in one specific room with his bed, litter tray etc. When he has settled into this room, allow him to explore the rest of the house at his own pace. When he seems happy and confident in the home it is time for him to try going outside. Let him out just before meal times, so that he's hungry and will return for food (strong smelling food, in particular, will help lure him back). Remember not to force your cat outside, it must be his choice. Follow this same routine every day until your cat is confident enough to come and go as he pleases.

I live in a flat. How can I safely provide fresh air for my cat?

If your cat has to live an indoor life in a flat, you can safely provide him with fresh air by screening your open windows. Screening involves putting a wire mesh over your window, which allows air in but stops your cat from falling out. Do not allow a cat out onto a narrow ledge or balcony, many animals fall to their death from heights.

How can I encourage my cat to stay in my garden, so as not to upset the neighbours?

It is impossible to eradicate your cat's natural desire to explore, but it can be curbed somewhat by neutering. You can also encourage your cat to stay in your garden by making it as interesting as possible so he won't want to leave.
Neighbours are most often upset by cats toileting in their garden; you can encourage your cat to use your own garden by providing a good toileting site within your own boundaries. A good toileting site for a cat is somewhere with easily raked material, which is also private and secluded. Digging over an area that is enclosed by bushes and easily accessible from the house could well be enough to encourage toileting closer to home.
You can also enclose your back garden using a fencing kit; however this can be costly and is not always 100 per cent effective.

How can I keep the neighbourhood cats out of my garden?

It must be remembered that cats have territory areas that do not necessarily match human boundaries and, of course, they do not realise that they are doing anything wrong by heading off next door. By law, cats are protected from physical violence, so do not hit or kick them to get them off your property.
There are many ways to deter a cat from entering your garden, some are humane, others barbaric (like electric shock fences). Cats Protection recommends a number of humane deterrents, which are far more effective than many of the products on the market. Shooing or clapping away a cat does the job in the short-term, but cats will often just learn to avoid coming into your garden when you are present, but will still come through when it is 'safe'. Another alternative is to use a short, sharp jet of cold water: this needs to be associated with being in a particular place, so should be used just as the cat jumps onto a fence or wall, or comes under the fence. In this way, the aversive event will be more likely to be linked to entering the garden rather than you being there with a water pistol! As well as doing this manually with a water pistol, you can also buy a product, such as a Scarecrow, to fire the water for you (it uses heat and movement sensors).
Another product you may wish to try is Catwatch, an ultrasound alarm triggered by the movement and body heat of an animal as it enters the protected area. The idea is that the ultrasound frequencies turn off when the cat leaves the protected area and he learns not to enter that area again or the noise will reoccur. Research has found, however, that these ultrasound products do not tend to deter cats very effectively.
To discourage cats from entering your garden:

  • Shoo them away by either shouting or clapping your hands
  • Squirt water at them using a low-powered water pistol (not a super soaker), being careful to avoid their eyes
  • Emit a short, sharp high-pitched noise, such as from a rape alarm. Electronic deterrents which are triggered by the movement of a cat and emit a high-pitched sound audible only to cats, are also available
  • Install an automatic garden spray that is triggered by an infra-red detector that locates movement
  • Erect high, close-boarded fences next to the hedges in the garden, making it difficult for cats to visit
  • Try not to leave food for birds and other wildlife in places that are easily accessible to cats and also ensure dustbin lids are secure. In addition, do not start feeding a cat if you do not want him around
To discourage cats from toileting in your garden
  • Cultivate shrubs closely to prevent cats from finding a place to dig
  • Spread chicken manure around beds and borders, taking care to use Soil Association approved pellets rather than fresh manure
  • Consider covering parts of the garden that you do not want the cat to toilet in with stone chippings, pebbles or small rocks
  • Lion dung-infused deterrent products, the planting of coleus canina and crushed egg shells have been used with varying levels of success to deter cats from toileting in flower beds
  • Hardy plants and the use of tall planters in strategically placed positions (entrances, protruding corners) can help to reduce the effects of cats marking their territory through spraying

Should I keep my cat in at night?

Cats are natural hunters and will tend to be more active at night time when their normal prey species are active. For this reason there is a slightly increased chance of road accidents where cats are out at night. It is better to keep cats indoors at night where there is a risk to the local rodent population from hunting. Cats kept for rodent control, however, will be most effective if allowed out at night.
Cats that are used to being out and active at night can become restless and stressed when kept in - where this is necessary, the indoor environment should provide them with lots of things to do, such as toys, climbing frames and puzzle feeders (see below). A cat should never be locked out all night.

How can I give my cat the exercise and stimulation he needs?

Remember that cats have developed as effective nocturnal predators, which will naturally spend between a third and half of their time engaged in hunting activity. Where cats are not hunting, this type of activity needs to be replaced by other forms of exercise and mental stimulation. The best way to use up your cat's energy is to play with him. There are lots of cat toys available in pet shops or they can be made very cheaply from ping pong balls, string or old plastic bottles. The things that make toys interesting for cats are novelty and movement. A toy that doesn't move and which has been on the floor for a week will not entertain your cat! So change toys regularly and actively play with them to make them interesting. Hanging toys up so that swing in the breeze or move with a door will also make them more interesting. Some cats love catnip so providing catnip toys will be very stimulating for these individuals.
Cats also like to climb and hide inside things, so providing shelves, climbing frames and cardboard boxes will help keep your cat entertained. They also like to scratch; so providing them with a suitable scratching post will allow them to display this behaviour without having to resort to your sofa! Where cats are kept indoors, they can also be provided with trays of grass, which will not only enrich their environment but also help them to naturally aid their digestive process. For indoor cats, it is also a good idea to feed any dried biscuits in a 'puzzle feeder'. Various types of these can be bought, or they can be easily made using an old plastic drink bottle, with holes cut in that are slightly larger than the size of the cat biscuits. Your cat will learn to knock the feeder along to make biscuits fall out. In this way, getting his food ratio will take much longer than it would from just eating it out of a bowl.

Routine cat care FAQs

Did you know that... ?

Regular combing and brushing, especially for long-haired cats, will remove loose hair, dirt and dust. Grooming is vital to prevent furballs, which can form in a cat's stomach when hair is constantly licked. Daily grooming also ensures that you spend some quality time with your cat.

What is the best way to identify my cat?

We recommend mircochipping as the best means of identifying your cat, as a chip is permanent and will not cause injuries like collars can.

How do I toilet train my new kitten/cat?

Cats are naturally clean animals, but a new kitten will need to be shown how to use a litter tray and toilet correctly. Start by providing a litter tray, filled with a commercial cat litter. Keep it in the same place, somewhere that the kitten can easily get to it. Make sure that the tray is regularly cleaned and that it is somewhere private.

Take the kitten to the litter tray after every meal and when he wakes from sleep, so that he gets used to a routine. Wiping his bottom with a moist tissue can encourage toileting to take place (this action mimics the way a mother cat would lick her kitten's behind to make him toilet).

What is the best way to hold a cat?

It is best to hold a cat or kitten by putting one hand under his chest and supporting the rest of his weight with your other hand. Kittens, in particular, must be handled gently as their bones are fragile.

Contrary to popular belief, picking up a feline by the scruff of the neck can be painful.

What are worms and how can I stop my cat from getting them?

There are two main types of worms that infect cats - roundworm and tapeworm. Most cats will suffer from roundworm at some point in their lives and infection is not always visible. It is advisable to treat for roundworm in adult cats and for kittens.

Tapeworm, if present, will be noticeable as segments are passed in the cat's faeces and can be seen clinging to the animal's legs. When dry, the segments are cream coloured and look like grains of rice. Good treatments for both tapeworm and roundworm are available from veterinary surgeries. Please consult your vet for advice on treatment frequency, as this depends on the preventative product used.

How do I guard against fleas?

Fleas often affect cats, even meticulously clean ones, because the eggs can survive in the environment for a very long time. Fleas can be present all year round especially in milder climates. The good news is that they are easily prevented and treated using the very effective flea treatments now available from vets.

How do I spot ear mites?

An infected cat or kitten will scratch his ears, shake his head and sometimes damage the skin on his ears and temples. Ear mites live on dead skin inside the ear and brown wax will be seen in the outer ear. Treatment is required to eliminate them so it is best to take your cat to the vet.

Cats and people FAQs

Did you know that... ?

Cats Protection is a UK-based charity serving England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
We can provide advice and information to people living overseas via our Helpline and our website, but we cannot offer rehoming services or neutering assistance to those living abroad.

What is the Animal Welfare Act?

The Animal Welfare Act received Royal Assent on 8 November 2006 and came into effect in England and Wales on 6 April 2007. The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 was passed in October. These laws represented the biggest change in Animal Welfare Law for nearly 100 years and CP wholeheartedly welcomes the new legislation.
So what does it do? Until the act came into effect, those responsible for pets could only be prosecuted for cruelty once cruelty had occurred. The new laws introduced, for the first time, a legal duty on pet owners to provide for all of their pet’s needs, including:

  • A proper diet (food and water)
  • Somewhere suitable to live
  • Addressing any need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • The opportunity to express normal behaviour
  • Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease
The laws also increase the penalties for those who commit the most serious offences of cruelty against animals.

I am going on holiday. What can I do with my cat while I am away?

Cats are territorial and happiest in familiar surroundings, so if you are going away for a while it is best to make arrangements with someone you can trust to take care of him in his own home. If this isn't possible you should contact the International Cat Care on 01747 871 872 or visit its website for a list of recommended boarding catteries. (Remember your cat will need up-to-date vaccinations before entering a cattery).

My cat has gone missing, What should I do to try and find him?

It is always very difficult for an owner when their cat goes missing, but it is important not to give up hope. The first thing to do should your cat go missing is thoroughly search your house and garden, looking in warm spots (under beds, in cupboards, behind wardrobes). When searching call out your cat's name and use strong food smells to lure him out. Ask neighbours to check their sheds, garages and outhouses for signs of your cat too.
If your search proves fruitless start phoning around local veterinary surgeries (an injured cat may have been handed in), phone local animal rescue organisations and the local council. Put up lost cat posters in your area (use a photo if you have one and include a telephone number). You could also consider placing an advert in the local paper, offering a reward could encourage more response.
Try one of the national lost pet databases. Cats Protection recommends Animal Search UK -
Don't give up, cats can reappear many months after disappearing.

What is involved in looking after a cat? (What costs am I likely to incur?)

Owning a cat is a big responsibility and one that should not be entered into lightly. Nowadays a cat can live for up to 20 years or even more, so you will need to be able to commit to caring for him for his whole life.
There are essential cat care items, like food, litter, toys and bedding which will need to be bought. In addition to this you will need to account for routine veterinary care (the cost of annual health checks, vaccinations, neutering, de-worm and de-flea treatments). Getting your cat microchipped is also an extremely important investment. Pet insurance will help towards the cost of major illness and emergency treatment and you may also need to budget for cattery fees when you are away.

How will having a cat affect my lifestyle?

You will need to think carefully before getting a cat as it is a real commitment. You'll need to make time for play, grooming and fuss Make sure that your new cat or kitten doesn't become a nuisance to neighbours, ensure arrangements are made for his care when you go on holiday and be prepared for him to display his natural instincts (like bringing home prey).

I am allergic to cats, is there a way I can own one?

There are now products on the market, which, if used regularly, can allow people who are allergic to felines to keep a cat. One such product is Petal Cleanse, made by Biolife International. The product is applied to a cat weekly and reduces dander from the coat, which can cause allergic reactions.
For more detailed information visit the Biolife International website - or call its allergy advice line on 01608 686 626. Alternatively some breeds of cat are better pets for allergy suffers as they have less fur, eg Devon Rex or Cornish Rex

I have developed asthma, would it be best if my cat left our house?

Before parting with your cat, try Petal Cleanse, a product which decreases allergy-causing dander. For more detailed information, visit the manufacturer, Biolife International's website or phone its allergy advice line on 01608 686 626.
There are ways to keep your cat should you or a member of your family, develop asthma so don't give up right away.