Responsible Cat Ownership
Many presume that cats are fairy low maintenance pets that can mostly look after themselves, providing you give them some food and the odd trip to the vet. While this is true to a certain extent, there are a number of important elements to consider if you want to be a responsible cat owner.
General Wellbeing and Care
In order for your cat to remain healthy and happy, it is important to consider the following:
- Worming and vaccinations. All cats need regular worming and vaccinations. This is not optional – it is vital for the health of both you and your cat.
- Microchipping. Many cats refuse to wear collars, so claiming ownership or identifying your cat if she becomes lost can be difficult. Microchipping your cat eliminates this risk.
- Keep a clean litter tray. Cats will not use a dirty litter tray, so make sure you clean it regularly. You should also put the tray somewhere secluded in your house, away from any food.
- Keep cats in at night. This reduces the likelihood of your cat fighting or being hit by a car, both of which typically happen after dusk.
- Give your cat attention. Cats may be low maintenance, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them entirely. Socialise your cat regularly, giving them plenty of love and opportunities to play. Positive attention and stimulation can reduce the possibility of destructive behaviours like scratching your sofa!
The RSPCA recommends that you neuter your cat from an early age unless you are planning on breeding from her. Neutering is usually performed at around six months. Failing to neuter your cat, whether they are male or female can lead to unwanted kittens, who often become feral or fill up rescue centres. Many of these unwanted cats will end up being put down, and feral cats also kill more wildlife, and so have more impact on the local environment.
Neutering is also beneficial for the health of your cat. Neutered cats on average live longer than unneutered cats, and nurturing can curb the likelihood of health problems such as mammary cancer later in life. Neutering also limits unwanted behaviours associated with sexual maturity, such as spraying and roaming in male cats.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary for all female cats to have one litter of kittens before they are neutered. There are no health benefits by doing this, and you may create an unwanted litter of cats. It is also a myth that only female cats need neutering. An unneutered male cat can father thousands of unwanted kittens over a lifetime.
Studies show that the average pet cat kills up to 40 small creatures every year. Cats hunting and killing birds is a particular cause for concern, as many of our indigenous garden birds are either diminishing or are under threat.
Cats are natural predators – even from a young age kittens will hunt and chase butterflies and beetles. There are a few simple measures you can take, however, that can restrict your cat’s impact on the environment:
- Keep your cat inside at night. This is the simplest and most effective thing you can do to protect wildlife. Cats are naturally nocturnal, and their hunting instincts are thought to peak at night.
- Try a bell. Some cats hate wearing collars, but it is worth trying a collar and bell with your cat or kitten, as many take to it happily. Bells alert small animals to the presence of your cat, and also allow you to identify your cat should you need to.
- Offer plenty of mental stimulation. Giving your cat plenty of attention and things to play with in the home can deter her from seeking excitement elsewhere.