Responsible cat ownership - Thinking Cat

an unhappy cat

Routines

It's fair to say that most people, adults or children, feel a little more secure about things when they have daily routines, and when their homes are laid out comfortably. Eating in the morning and evening, sleeping in your own bed, being able to pee in private, stuff like that. Cats are no different and establishing a simple daily routine is very important if you want yours to feel happy and secure. Serving meals at regular times and in the same place is a good start. Giving your cat a comfortable, quiet and safe place to sleep is another no-brainer!

If your cat uses a litter tray, make sure it is kept away from food, ideally somewhere secluded. Cats will not use dirty litter trays, so remember to keep it fresh. Your cat may choose an alternative loo if you don't..

bad cat habits

In terms of food, feeding a mixture of tinned and dried food can provide a balanced diet, but you should remember to provide extra water with dried food, and water must always be clean and fresh.

Do you sleep well in a noisy, draughty room? Probably not, and nor will your cat. A cat bed should be kept in a quiet, draught-free place, preferably out of direct sunlight. Regularly washing or vacuuming the bedding will help prevent unwanted smells and fleas.

Entertainment

As a general rule, cats need access to a garden, to the outside world. That said, some cats can live practically their entire lives indoors. However, cats which can't enjoy the stimulation offered by the outside world can easily become bored and stressed if they are not looked after properly, and this can lead to behavioural problems.

cat play tower

Whether your cat is the indoor or outdoor type, invest in a few activity toys. Play with your cat as often as you can, and get a scratching post if you value your sofa and curtains. Give your cat something more to do than just sleep and eat!

Health

Every cat needs annual vaccinations, and these annual visits are a good opportunity for you to ensure your cat gets a complete health check at least once a year. You, or your vet, need to ensure that your cat isn't suffering from fleas, worms or other parasites. If you're worried about unexpected vet's bills, take out a pet insurance policy. They generally cost less than you think.

It's worth bearing in mind that cats are prolific breeders, and almost every cat rescue or cat charity in the country will tell you that you have an obligation to get your cat 'done'. We'll add to the chorus: Get your cat neutered. Neutering prevents unwanted litters and can prevent tumours and other health problems.

Cat ID

Most cat owners assume, for one reason or another, that their cat will never go astray. The reality is quite different, as cat rescue organisations will tell you, but with proper identification you can reduce the risk of losing your cat forever.

Make sure your cat's Identity disc shows your name, the first line of your address and telephone contact number. The identity disc should be on a quick release collar which will pull apart if it gets caught on something, allowing your cat to escape. The ID disc is a quick and easy way of identifying your cat.

Micro-chipping is now the most widely recognised method of permanent identification and your local vet can provide this service quickly and easily. Remember to tell your microchip provider if you move house or change telephone numbers.

Going away

When you start planning your holidays, or trips away, don't forget to plan for your cat too. Only leave your cat in the care for friends or relatives if you are sure they will take care of your pet.

In areas where catteries are in short supply there has been a dramatic increase in the number of 'cat sitters'. Only use such a service if you are 100% certain that the provider is genuine and has been personally recommended by people you know well. Cat forums carry horror stories of cat sitters only arriving on the first and last days, missing possessions and more. Some of these stories may well be exaggerated, but all the same, we advise care when choosing a carer for your cat. If you use a cat sitter, be sure to take time to introduce your cat to the carer before you go away and leave contact numbers for yourself and your vet in case of emergency.

If you are considering a cattery, visit beforehand to check it is suitable. Our directories provide basic information and contact details of the catteries in your area, but word of mouth recommendations from people you know and trust are always the best guide. You will need to book up well in advance, especially at peak holiday times, as the best catteries are more or less always fully booked.

When transporting your cat, use a proper cat carrier or locked basket. If the journey will be long, make sure the carrier includes food, water and toilet facilities. Keep your cat inside the carrier until you have arrived at your final destination and are in a safe and secure area. Giving your cat 'a breather' when you get to the motorway service station is neither entirely intelligent, nor unheard of...

Pet Passports

If you are travelling overseas, you can get your pet a 'passport' under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), without having to go through quarantine. You will need to complete several important steps, such as vaccinations, microchipping and getting an official PETS certificate from your vet, so make sure you do everything well in advance. For full details, please refer to the Defra website Pet Travel Scheme.

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