Owning a Cat

General Feline Friend Info

Cats are one of the most popular pets in the UK and rightly so – they make a wonderful addition to any household! This guide offers some of the basic principles of cat care. If you are thinking about having more than one cat, then please look at Cats Protection’s  Essential Guide: Cats living together .
Cats can be independent and are considered the ideal pet for people with busy lifestyles, but they still need to be looked after. You should be prepared to spend time playing with and grooming your cat, as well as being a companion to them. By following the advice in this leaflet, you can do your best to ensure you have a happy and healthy cat.


Cats should be fed a complete, balanced, good quality meatbased food; they cannot be vegetarians. There are a multitude of different brands of cat food on the market, but there are two main types to choose from; wet and dry.
Fresh wet food should be replaced at least twice daily and dry food at least once daily. Do follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommended amounts. Once neutered, cats typically have reduced energy needs, so consider reducing their daily amount accordingly.
Food should be placed in an area where the cat feels safe and away from their water bowl and litter tray. If your cat eats dry food, using feeding balls to give some, or all, of your cat’s daily food ration can help to lessen boredom and provides some exercise.

When adopting a cat, you should initially follow the diet that your cat has been fed previously. Before you take them home, find out what they have been eating and at what times. If you do wish to change your cat’s food, it is important to introduce the new food very gradually over a period of a week or more to avoid an upset stomach.
It is best not to feed your cat cow’s milk as some cats can not tolerate the lactose in it – always have a supply of fresh water available.
More information about feeding cats and kittens,  including what to do if your cat stops eating, is available  in Cats Protection’s  Essential Guides: Feeding and obesity   and  Caring for your kitten .


Cats generally don’t need to drink lots every day. However, always ensure fresh, clean drinking water is available at all times. This is best placed away from their food, as cats generally prefer not to eat and drink in the same place.
More information about water and drinking is available in  Cats Protection’s  Essential Guide: Feeding and obesity .


Cats that have free access to the outdoors will often engage in hunting activity, including playing with fallen leaves or grass blowing in the wind if there is no access to prey. The drive to hunt is not triggered by hunger. Each part of the hunting activity – the stalk, pounce, play and kill – releases feel-good hormones called endorphins. It is important that our pet cats are given frequent opportunities to play to keep them mentally stimulated.
Keeping your cat amused with toys can help to keep them happy, provide good exercise and strengthen your bond with your cat. Toys don’t have to be expensive. A cardboard box with holes cut into it provides a fun hiding place. Even a ball of tin foil makes a perfectly adequate toy, as long as the cat can’t swallow it.
Play is more fun if you get involved too – you could use fishing rod toys with feathers on a string to mimic their prey! Allow them to catch and ‘kill’ the toy periodically to avoid frustration.
Older cats will love playing three or four times a day, while younger cats will be happy to play ten times a day or more. Very short games of one to two minutes are fine. Swap toys around regularly to keep them interesting, but don’t leave your cat unattended with toys which could be shredded and eaten or cause entanglement. Check toys  regularly for signs of wear, replacing  them when appropriate.

Somewhere to hide

It is important to provide your cat with a place to hide which will help to make them feel safe and secure. There are many things that can cause a cat to feel anxious or fearful, such as fireworks, building work in the house, unfamiliar visitors or conflict with other cats. A hiding place can be something as simple as a cardboard box on its side, an igloo style cat bed, a space under the bed, or in a wardrobe with the door left ajar. The cat shouldn’t be disturbed while they are in their hiding place. Somewhere to get up high Cats feel safer if they can view their surroundings from a height. This is another important coping mechanism for cats that feel anxious or fearful. You could place a cosy blanket on top of a wardrobe and provide access by placing a stool or similar item next to it. Cats also love to sit on window sills and shelves. Extra consideration should be given to elderly cats, as they will have more difficulty reaching higher vantage points. For more information see Cats Protection’s 


On average, cats spend about 16 hours a day sleeping. Cats generally rest or sleep intermittently throughout the day and will prefer to sleep in a warm, comfortable and safe place. There are a range of cat beds available, such as igloo beds or hammocks for the radiator, or you could simply provide a cardboard box on its side with a soft blanket inside. Cats often rotate their preferred sleeping area and they shouldn’t be disturbed when sleeping.


A scratching post will provide exercise, claw maintenance and a focal point for your cat to express this natural behaviour – it will help protect your furniture too. Cats like to stretch and scratch after they wake up so try placing the scratch post near where they sleep. A good scratching post has the following features:
• a strong sturdy base, so the cat can lean against the post without it wobbling • tall enough that the cat can stretch fully • a vertical thread that allows the cat to scratch downwards Eating grass Many cats like to eat grass, which may help to clear furballs. A type of grass that cats particularly like is called Cocksfoot; it has long broad leaves so it is easy for them to bite. If your cat can’t go outside, Cocksfoot grass can be grown indoors. Seeds are readily available from garden centres and pet shops. If no grass is provided, your cat may try to eat other household plants which may pose a risk