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Responsible Cat Ownership
Being a responsible pet owner is taking care of anything related to cat safety. It is not only about feeding your cat every day and taking it to the vet if it is sick or injured, it is also about making sure it wears a collar and ID tag, is microchipped (and your contact details are kept up to date) and properly vaccinated annually. Here we delve into the various aspects of responsible cat ownership.
Put yourself in your pet's shoes...
Need guidance on your cat safety responsibilities? A good rule of thumb is to imagine how you would feel if you were your pet. For instance, how would you like breakfast added to last night's stale supper or your bed being in the noisiest room in the house?
Most of the behavioural and veterinary problems we encounter at Battersea are due to owners not looking after their pets properly. In this section we give you some guidelines. But the basic needs are simple: to feel secure pets need to have a daily routine and be loved.
If your cat needs a litter tray, put it somewhere secluded, away from her food. Cats will not use dirty litter trays and may resort to using your pot plants instead so replace litter regularly and disinfect trays every so often. Please see our 'Housetraining your cat' factsheet for further advice.
Both tinned and dried pet food provides a balanced, nutritious diet but remember to provide extra water with dried food. Water must always be clean and fresh. Human food is not recommended.
Your pet's bed should be in a quiet, draught-free place out of direct sunlight. Vacuuming or laundering the bedding will keep smells, and fleas, at bay.
Most cats need access to a garden but indoor cats, who do not have the mental stimulation provided by the outside world, can become bored and stressed. This can lead to serious behavioural problems and destructiveness. Cat activity toys can help your cat amuse herself when you are absent. Both indoor and outdoor cats enjoy playtime so interact with your cat through play, and provide a scratching post so she can exercise her claws without shredding your sofa. Cats need socialising too; try to get them used to daily sights, noises and situations from an early age.
Health & pet insurance
Don't wait until your pet becomes ill before registering with a vet. Your pet will need annual vaccinations which is also a good opportunity for a complete health check. Your vet will advise on the most effective worming and anti-flea treatments, as your pet's health will suffer if parasites are not controlled. Regular grooming keeps coats clean and healthy, and is essential if you have a long-haired pet.
Neutering not only prevents unwanted litters but can also prevent tumours and other health problems. If you have a male cat, it can also help to curb straying and aggression. Cats are prolific breeders. In five years, a female cat can be responsible for 20,000 offspring. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home neuters all adult cats before they go to new homes.
Pet insurance is an important consideration for all cat owners. It will help guard against unexpected veterinary fees and allow you to provide the best health care for your cat. There are a number of different policies and providers to choose from but not all pet insurance is the same. Some policies limit the amount of time or money that you can claim and this is why we recommend that you don’t choose a policy based on price alone.
All dogs and cats from Battersea go to their new homes with four weeks’ free insurance from Petplan. We work with Petplan because they are a pet insurance specialist and have a range of options including their signature Covered for Life policies, so you know your cat is in safe hands.
When our rehomers extend this free cover to a full policy, Petplan will donate 10% of the cost of the premium to Battersea, as well as 10% of the cost of the premium each year the policy is renewed.
This 10% donation isn’t only available to people rehoming an animal from Battersea. Visit www.petplan.co.uk/bdch for a quote and more information about all Petplan policies for your pet. You can also call 0800 980 0500 quoting ‘BDCH’ and 10% of your premium will be donated to Battersea.Petplan legal bits
Identification & loss prevention
Most owners assume that their pet will never go missing but as the number of strays we receive every day proves, they are mistaken. The Home receives an average of three stray cats every day. Identification is important for cats. Make sure your cat's disc lists your name, the first line of your address and contact number/s. Sadly only 6% of the stray cats we receive are claimed by their owners. Battersea's Lost Cat Kit is a simple four-stage process, which includes a downloadable poster to help you find your lost cat.
Cats should wear quick release collars, which pull apart if the cat gets stuck and will allow them to escape should they become entangled whilst climbing.
Microchipping is a widely recognised method of permanent identification. Your vet can provide this service or you can bring your cat to Battersea to have a microchip fitted. We microchip all Battersea cats before they go to new homes. Remember to update your details if you move house or change telephone numbers with your microchip provider.
Cats should not be shut out at night. Most road traffic accidents involving cats occur after dark and she may not want to go outside after she has spent the evening indoors, especially during cold weather. Cats are also often criticised for hunting and killing birds, which are at their most vulnerable at dawn and dusk when they are feeding. You may choose to get your cat used to staying in at night and provide her with a litter tray. To become familiar and confident in her new surroundings, a newly acquired cat should be kept inside for at least four weeks. Do not feed her before letting her out for the first time but feed her immediately when she returns. You can train her to respond to a signal when food is ready, for example by whistling or rattling her biscuits. Kittens should not be let out until they are at least six months old and have had all their vaccinations and the first few outings should always be supervised.
When planning a trip away, ensure you make proper arrangements for your pets. You should only consider friends or neighbours if they can be trusted to care for your pet properly. If necessary, take time to introduce your cat to her carer before you go away. Explain her daily routine and leave contact numbers for yourself and your vet in case of emergencies. Put a new identity disc on your pet's collar with the contact details of her temporary carer and if your pet is microchipped let your microchip provider know.
If you are considering a cattery, visit beforehand to check it is suitable. Word of mouth is the best recommendation. You will need to book up well in advance, especially at peak holiday times, as the best catteries are always fully booked.
If you are travelling with your cat, contact your microchip provider and inform them where you will be staying. If your cat was to go missing, you will have peace of mind that if she is found the microchip company will be able to contact you.
When transporting a cat always ensure she is in a cat carrier or locked basket and not a cardboard box which she can easily break out of, with food, water and toilet facilities, especially if on a long journey. Keep her inside the cat carrier until you have arrived at your final destination or are in a safe and secure area. Never let her out whilst you are in a car as she could cause an accident. It is advisable to keep your cat inside if on holiday for a short period of time as cats are not used to travelling and could easily get frightened or run away.
You can get your pet a 'passport' under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), without having to go through quarantine. You will need to complete several important steps, such as vaccinations, microchipping and getting an official PETS certificate from your vet, so make sure you do everything well in advance.