This web page contains basic information for the care of cats. For more detailed information, please consult other professional resources such as your veterinarian or one of the many books available about cat care.
Cats are wonderful companions. Each has a unique personality – just like people! Some are shy and quiet while others are outgoing and social. No matter what the personality of your cat, it's your job as a guardian to provide a good home with what they need to be happy. Remember, a happy cat is a healthy cat!
Overcoming behaviour issues
Visit these other web pages for help with common behaviour and training tips.
Spaying and neutering
Spaying and neutering are surgical procedures to prevent pets from reproducing. If your cat is not spayed or neutered, contact your local veterinarian to have the surgery done. Keep in mind, spaying and neutering will also decrease the desire for male cats to roam and spray, reduce aggression, make cats less susceptible to ovarian, uterine and testicular cancer and end the heat cycle in females.
Across North America less than 4% of cats that enter shelters have identification. To ensure the safe return of your cat if she ever gets lost, provide two forms of identification: a visible tag that includes your cat's name and a phone number that you can be reached at all times, and a permanent form of ID such as an ear tattoo or microchip. Most clinics will tattoo your cat for free when they are spayed or neutered. All cat/kitten/dog/puppy adoptions from the BC SPCA include a microchip and mandatory registration with BC Pet Registry. BC Pet Registry is the first provincial pet identification database (operated by the BC SPCA) and registration will increase the likelihood of a speedy reunification should your pet ever be lost! Contact your local veterinary clinic for information on obtaining a microchip for your cat and registering with BC Pet Registry. For more information please visit us at bcpetregistry.ca or call our Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722.
Be sure to use "quick-release" or "break-away" collars with built-in elastic to prevent your cat from getting tangled in branches or other objects.
Select a veterinarian and visit with the vet when you first get your cat for a routine health check. The BC Veterinary Medical Association website allows you to search for a vet in your area. Once your cat has had an initial visit with the vet, you may only need to go back once a year for a check-up and vaccinations. Consult with your vet if your cat has any lumps, bumps, unusual skin problems such as red or raised skin, smelly ears, open wounds, becomes lethargic, refuses to eat, gains or loses excess weight or if you notice any other unusual physical conditions. You may also want to consult with your vet if your cat experiences a change in normal behaviour (e.g., a sudden change in litter box habits, etc.).
Make visits to the vet less stressful for your cat with these tips.
Indoor versus outdoor cats
The BC SPCA strongly recommends that cats be kept indoors. Indoor cats generally are safer and do not suffer injuries from fighting with other cats and wildlife, are less susceptible to poisoning, safer from cars and accidents and contract fewer feline diseases. Roaming cats may sometimes be a nuisance to neighbours – digging in gardens and marking on doorways. Outdoor cats also indiscriminately prey on songbirds and other wildlife.
When you first bring a new cat or kitten into your home, make sure that you keep windows and doors to the outside closed at all times until you are comfortable that your cat will not try to escape to the outside world.
To keep your cat happy indoors, provide lots of stimulating toys, perches, hiding spots and scratching posts.
For more information, read more about how to keep your cat entertained indoors.
Litter box training your kitten
Provide your kitten with a litter box in a convenient, yet quiet location and take her there on a regular basis following meals and naps until she gets the idea.
The litter box should be scooped daily and depending on the litter you use, the entire box should be cleaned out every one to two weeks.
If you are experiencing a cat or kitten who does not like to use the litter box, please see the BC SPCA behaviour sheet on litter box problems.
Kittens that are weaned require good quality kitten food and adult cats will thrive on a mixture of good quality dry kibble and canned food. All these foods are available at your local pet supply store. Consult the feeding guidelines provided on the bag or can to determine how much your kitten or cat should eat in a day. It is common for most cats to eat two to three meals a day. Feed the last meal of the day right before bedtime. A full cat will sleep throughout the night. Kittens may require more meals a day.
A common misconception is that all cats love milk and should be fed milk. Though they may love milk, most cats and older kittens have difficulty digesting dairy products.
Your cat will benefit from the fun and exercise of playing with an assortment of cat toys – feather wands, balls, paper bags, fake fur mice and batting toys! Cats are naturally attracted to movements and sounds that trigger their instinct to stalk prey. Take time out from your day to spend time playing with your cat. The play will help keep your cat stimulated and also helps socialize your cat with people.
Cats also need scratching posts. Cats use them to stretch, help shed the outer covering on their claws and scent mark. Put the scratching post close to an entrance way or near where your cat sleeps as they usually stretch after waking up or when entering a room.
Note: Although cats and kittens are synonymous with playing with string or yarn, this is not a recommended toy for cats. Pieces can be chewed and ingested and cause damage to your cat's intestinal tract.
Grooming & nail trimming
Cats should be brushed regularly, especially long-haired cats. Regular brushing prevents fur from matting and removes loose fur. Cats groom all the time, but if they ingest too much fur they get hairballs that will be coughed out onto your carpet!
Nails should be trimmed once a month or as needed. Take care not to cut the blood vessel (the quick) that runs through each nail. Always have styptic powder close by when cutting nails. If you prefer not to cut your own cat's nails, a veterinarian can do this for you for a small fee.
To keep your cat's teeth healthy and tartar free, her teeth will need to be brushed daily. Buy a special toothpaste and finger brush from your local pet supply store or at your vet clinic.