A beginner’s guide to looking after cats
Having a pet can be an incredibly rewarding experience, and people often see their cat as part of the family.
But having a pet is also a big commitment. To keep your cat as healthy and happy as possible, or perhaps give you some insight if you’re thinking about getting one, here are some common questions on cat care answered.
What do cats eat?
Cats need a well-balanced, meat-based diet. It’s best to feed them premium quality complete dry cat food 1. Most regular human food isn’t suitable for cats and some foods are poisonous, such as onions.
How often should you feed a cat?
Cats naturally eat small, regular meals throughout the day 2. So divide your cat’s daily food into 2, or preferably a few, servings a day, unless advised otherwise by your vet. Dry food can be left out for your cat to nibble on whenever they get hungry, as long as your cat doesn’t have a tendency for putting on too much weight.
Do cats need to drink milk?
Not after they’ve left their mother. Cow’s milk doesn’t usually go down well with cats and can give them diarrhoea. But cats do need a constant supply of fresh drinking water or they can become ill within hours 1.
How do you make sure your cat gets enough exercise?
It’s normal for cats to sleep for many hours of the day, but they do also need to exercise. If you have an indoor cat, keep them entertained with soft toys and puzzle feeders. Try to make time to play with your cat, too.
How do you stop a cat scratching furniture?
Cats naturally sharpen their claws, mark territory and strengthen their muscles by scratching on trees. To stop them doing the same to your furniture, you can provide scratching posts, which should be at least as tall as your cat fully stretched 2.
Do you need to groom a cat?
Blue Cross advises that all cats need to be groomed regularly to keep their skin and fur in good condition. It also helps to build your relationship. Long-haired cats need to be groomed every day. There’s no need to bathe your cat, unless advised to by your vet 1.
How do you keep your cat healthy?
Make sure your cat has all the necessary vaccinations, parasite treatments (such as fleas and worms) and that they are spayed or neutered. The RSPCA advises cat owners to check their cat daily for any signs of injury or illness, and have their pet checked by a vet every year 3. Veterinary bills can be expensive, so sign up for Pet Insurance to protect yourself from hefty fees.
If your cat does become unwell, we have some advice on caring for a sick cat.