Cats are one of the most popular pets around the world. It is hard to pinpoint just how many felines there are out there, but it may be anywhere between 200 million and 600 million.
Even though more households are thought to have a dog, cat owners are more likely to own more than one cat, which is what makes them the most owned pet in the world.
- Lifespan: 20 Years
- Average Length: 38-50cm
- Average Weight: 3.6-4.5kg
- Popular Breeds: Moggies (Crossbreeds), Persian, Main Coone, British Shorthair, Ragdoll, Siamese
- Diet: Carnivorous, Meat-based
IMPORTANT THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Food can be quite inexpensive, ranging up to pricey for natural or purer food
- Some cat breeds may need regular trims and grooming, such as if they have long hair
- They are very clean creatures, able to wash themselves, but they may need protection against furballs
- Cats are quite territorial but many can live with other cats of a similar nature
- They can be indoor or outdoor. If kept inside, they will need sufficient space and equipment
- A cat will need regular vaccinations, and they should ideally be neutered and microchipped
- Many cats are friendly but you should sense their behaviour to assess how much you can interact with them
WHERE TO BUY A CAT
If you are after an adult cat as opposed to a kitten, your best bet is a rescue centre or charity. There are dozens up and down the country, from local centres to national charities.
Before you adopt an adult cat, you should ideally ensure they are neutered/spayed and microchipped before they can go outside for the first time.
Some centres will include this in the adoption fees, which is another reason to adopt – it is all taken care of!
Taking on an adult cat who has been rehomed may mean you don’t know much about their past, as some are often found abandoned. But they will have had full health checks when taken in.
Most reputable breeders and sellers will only sell kittens at a certain age.
CHOOSING YOUR CAT
A healthy cat should have clean, soft shiny fur. Eyes should be clear with no discharge, as should ears. Their breath should smell fresh with pink gums and no plaque or tartar on their teeth. If they are active, they should be a healthy weight.
Adult cats can sometimes have health concerns the older they get. This can range from being less active to trouble grooming, so an absence of one of the above isn’t a huge issue if you are aware of any health problems.
A junior cat will be any over the age of 6 months, and an adult is often classed as one over the age of 2 years. Different life stages will see different behaviours and needs.
Junior cats will be keen to play regularly and will start to become sexually mature. Adult cats will often settle in a bit better and be more ‘grown-up’ in terms of how they spend their time and interact with others. Mature cats over the age of 7 will play less and may be less active, and elder cats can struggle with grooming and using their litter tray and will need regular vet checks.
Domestic cats can live for 20 years so you will likely still have years of companionship
Which age you pick depends on your own lifestyle and how much care and attention you can give to them, but cats of all ages can make wonderful companions in their own ways.
Cats can differ in many ways based on their gender, particularly when it comes to their behaviour. Males tend to be slightly larger, and can usually be a bit bolder in terms of their personalities.
Females are often seen as the less friendly sex and can be quite territorial and ready to pick a fight with any cats which cross them – but this isn’t to say they can’t make wonderful pets for humans!
Females can become pregnant before they are a year old, and the mating process can be violent, so ensure they are spayed before going outside where there are males about. Males can howl for females and spray to mark territory, but getting them neutered will often prevent this
Most cats don’t mind being stroked or having fuss piled on them. But it is anything more which they can often protest at, such as being hugged or picked up. This can be an issue if you have young children about who don’t know boundaries. Cats will let you know when they have had enough and may not be afraid to scratch or hiss.
Some cats are similar to dogs in affection, and others are completely independent
It can vary from cat to cat, though – some absolutely love kisses and cuddles! Some handling may be needed if you need to clip their nails, or check for any skin issues, so the more they get used to it the better. The younger the cat, the easier it is to get them used to it, but this isn’t to say older cats can’t too.
Cats have evolved over the years to be a ‘pet’. So, you don’t need to recreate their natural environment of the classic Ancient Egyptian world. But there are still a few pointers you have to think about, and you should cat-proof your home before bringing them into it.
Cats can be indoor or outdoor, but they should always have a safe covered area to be able to sleep in. This can be somewhere in your home where they feel safe and can be left in peace, or an outdoor shelter which is protected from the cold and rainwater.
They also need somewhere where they can explore, whether this is out in the open or a fenced-off area or large room with plenty of things in there to do.
Cats are very clean creatures as mentioned. They will likely appreciate a clean bed, and especially clean litter trays and feeding bowls. If it isn’t clean, they may not use it, due to their wild natural instincts that dirty areas are tainted and dangerous.
Regularly vacuum the areas they go, and be careful about using cleaning products around them.
Do this when they are out of the house or not using them
Cat’s body temperature should be around 37.5 to 39°C. Anything over 39.7°C is seen as a fever. They can generally tolerate warmer temperatures than humans, but long-haired breeds will prefer something cooler.
There isn’t really a one-temperature-fits-all definitive answer to their ideal warmth environment, as it can depend on age, breed and any illnesses, but it is quite easy to get a hang of when your cat is comfortable and when they aren’t
If conditions are okay for you, they should be okay for your cat
A cat bed may be the best place for them to sleep, and there is a huge variety out there for every wish.
Regular beds sit on the floor, but they may prefer to be up higher on a cat tower bed, or near the warmth on a radiator bed
Most will prefer soft material, but the amount of space they need when sleeping can really differ. A cat can sleep for 12-18 hours every day so it is vital they get enough rest
Other Products Needed
Ensure your cat has somewhere to go to the toilet, with a litter tray and appropriate litter provided. They will also benefit from toys and other similar enrichment activities, as well as something on which they can keep their claws sharpened and filed such as a scratching post.
Cats cannot be vegan – they require some nutrients which can only be found in animal-derived products. There is food out there which is suitable for their age, lifestyle, breed and any health issues they may have, which could be beneficial to ensure they are getting everything they need.
Talk to your vet who can recommend whether your cat needs specialist food
Their food should help their oral health too, by keeping their teeth clean, strong and healthy, so a balance of harder biscuits and softer meat is a good idea. There are loads of variations too, such as raw or frozen meats
Issues With Diet
As mentioned, cats need some nutrients they can only get from food. The main one is taurine, which is vital for healthy eyes and heart and muscle function. Unlike any other animals, cats cannot produce enough of their own accord. Some dedicated cat food may supplement some, but it can’t be found in human foods
Foods To Avoid
Anything from the onion family, raw eggs, meat and bones, chocolate, coffee and alcohol, and raw grapes or raisins should all be avoided. In fact, for safe measure, we would recommend not really giving them anything not designed for cats. Avoid most human food altogether. Ensure you keep anything dangerous out of their way as they can be pretty nosy
Tips For Feeding
Cats will often have their daily intake of food split up into several smaller meals, as opposed to one or two big meals every day. Treats are a great idea to reward them if they have come home after being out, or if they are on their best behaviour, but always adjust their diet accordingly.
Their bowl should be cleaned regularly, and any uneaten food disposed of after a few hours.
A microchip feeder could be a good idea for any cats who like to eat little throughout the day
Frequently check them over for any issues, such as lumps or injuries, especially if they are an outdoor cat. Always keep an eye on their toilet and eating habits – if anything changes, it could be the first sign of something more serious, so always get professional advice.
Your cat should regularly be wormed, and have flea treatment. This can be administered by yourself, or stronger doses through the vets.
Most vets will happily accept cats, and you don’t need a specialist. You should sign up to a vet as soon as you have a new pet, and take them for an initial check-up. They will advise you how regularly to go for frequent checkups, but for most healthy cats, an annual checkup when they are receiving their annual vaccination boosters will be enough.
Cats should be vaccinated against Cat Flu (feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus), Feline infectious enteritis and Feline leukaemia virus. This is particularly important if they go into a cattery or see other cats regularly, but it is good to get it done anyway.
It may be best to take out a health plan if they have a lot of needs, and always get animal health insurance
Vets can also check your cat over for dental or claw issues and other factors you may find it hard to spot or check yourself. Appointments are relatively inexpensive, but any treatment or vaccinations can vary widely in price.
Different breeds can have their very own issues with health. Short-nosed breeds can struggle to breathe, Burmese have a higher chance of diabetes, Siamese cats can have internal breathing difficulties and Ragdolls can be born with a gene which makes them more susceptible to heart issues.
Like dogs, cats can also have hereditary issues and genetic diseases. There are tests out there which can detect these, but be aware that even in adult cats, some may not be detected until they are older.
Outdoor cats who love to explore can occasionally pick up injuries, which may be shown by a limp or overgrooming. Most will heal themselves but phone a vet if you get worried.
Another important reason to spay and neuter cats are that unneutered males can be violent with each other if outdoors and regularly pick up injuries. The mating process for cats can also be violent, so any unspayed females will be a target and could come out quite injured.