A quick guide to owning a cat

Thinking about getting a cat and not sure where to begin? Find out more in our guide

5 important things

• Introducing your cat to their new home should be done slowly and carefully - don't rush it!

• Getting your cat microchipped is important. If they go missing, your details can be quickly traced

• Having your cat neutered reduces the risk of your cat fighting and sustaining injury, contracting diseases or becoming lost

• Provide appropriate health care for your cat, including vaccination, flea and worming treatment and regular vet check-ups

• If you're keen on buying a cat, make sure it is from a reputable breeder or seller

Getting a cat

Getting a cat can be both exciting and daunting, leaving a lot to think about. From kitting out your home ready for your new arrival, to keeping your cat safe. Take a look at our quick guide to find advice on everything from choosing the right cat, to common health issues in your new companion.

Adopt a cat

All cats have different personalities that make them the perfect pet for the right home. While some might like to consider adopting a kitten, an older cat might be a great option for a quieter household. Cats with disabilities and indoor cats make great companions too, especially as indoor pets.

What does my cat need? checklist

To help you get your home set up for your new pet, we've put together a checklist. Download it, take it shopping and stick it on your fridge - it's got everything you need for your new cat.

Welcome home

When you first adopt a cat or kitten, you'll need to help them settle into their new home - meeting the family, exploring the surroundings and even venturing into the great outdoors. A change of environment is stressful for a cat and it can take take a while before your cat feels settled. Take one step at a time, be patient and always work at the cat's pace when letting them adjust to their new setting. Take a look at our advice on welcoming your new cat home.

Cats and the law

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 applies to both domestic and feral cats, and aims to prevent cruelty and promote ensuring the welfare of animals. There is an obligation on you, as an owner, to ensure all your cat's welfare needs are met - from a suitable environment and diet, to the freedom to exhibit normal behaviour patterns.

Keeping your cat safe

Cats are naturally inquisitive animals. As an owner, you'll want to do all you can to protect against unfortunate accidents. This includes neutering and microchipping your new pet, as well as taking out insurance and providing appropriate health care.

There is a surprising array of indoor and outdoor hazards to watch out for - from poisonous substances such as antifreeze and disinfectants to household plants, as well as human drugs or medicines. Outdoors, you'll need to make sure your garden is cat-friendly too.

Knowing when to say goodbye

The average life expectancy of a cat is around 14 years, with many living well beyond this age. As an owner, it is important to be able to assess your cat's quality of life to prevent suffering as they get older or become ill. If there comes a time when your cat is in continual pain, discomfort or distress, the most loving and courageous way you can show how much you care is to end their suffering.

Making the decision to euthanase your much-loved pet is a difficult one and guidance from your vet will be invaluable at this stage. Losing your cat can be a traumatic experience - don't be afraid to show your feelings. For more advice on knowing when to say goodbye, click here

Related topics

Neutering - Topic

Microchipping - Topic