A cat is a commitment for its lifetime, which may be 15-20 years. Consider carefully whether a cat is a suitable pet for you and whether you can afford the lifetime costs of care such as food and vets’ bills.
Did you know?
Cats, like all animals, need five things to be healthy and happy; these are called the five welfare needs. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and equivalent legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland, all owners need to provide these five things for the pets they keep:
1. Environment – a suitable living environment
2. Diet – a suitable diet
3. Behaviour – to be able to behave normally
4. Companionship – to have appropriate companionship
5. Health – to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
More information about the five welfare needs can be found in the government’s cat codes – see the links at the bottom of this page.
If you are considering getting a cat or kitten, PAAG recommends the following:
- Please consider contacting your local animal rescue/rehoming centre. There are thousands of healthy, loving cats all over the UK who are waiting for a home. Visit www.catchat.org for further information.
- Avoid third-party sellers such as pet shops and garden centres (who buy wholesale from breeders)
- Research before you buy. Different breeds have different requirements and temperaments. Be sure the cat you are interested in is suitable for your lifestyle and environment
- Make sure you get a healthy cat: always ask for a copy of its medical records, including vaccination certificate and records of worming and flea treatment. Ensure that registration papers, the parents’ hereditary disease screening certificates and microchip documentation are in order
- Buying a kitten: ideally you should see the kitten with its mother and check that the facilities are clean and the litter appears alert and healthy. You should be able to handle the kittens freely under supervision. Don’t buy a kitten that is less than 8 weeks old
- If the cat is over 4 months old, check if it has been neutered. Kittens can be neutered at around 4 months or younger. It is not beneficial for a cat to have a season or just one litter. Breeding just adds to the many cats and kittens needing homes
- Ask where your cat came from. If your chosen cat does not originate from the place of purchase, ask about where it did come from, and try to obtain its previous history
- Getting another cat: If you already have one or more cats think carefully before getting another. Cats are naturally solitary animals, which means they usually prefer to live alone. If one of your cats has recently died hold off getting another as a “friend”, at least until your existing cat has adjusted, as it may be happier by itself. If you do decide to introduce a new cat to another seek advice from a vet or animal welfare charity on how to do it gradually in a way that minimises the risks of either cat(s) suffering from stress/stress related illness.
- If you require advice, your local veterinary practice will be able to advise you. Advice on getting a cat and cat care is also available from:
The Mayhew Animal Home: themayhew.org
Government Codes of Practice on how to meet the five welfare needs for cats:
- England (www.gov.uk/government/publications/code-of-practice-for-the-welfare-of-cats)
- Northern Ireland (www.dardni.gov.uk/index/animal-health-and-welfare/animal-welfare/non-farmed-animal-welfare.htm)
- Scotland (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2010/03/04105529/)
- Wales (http://wales.gov.uk/topics/environmentcountryside/ahw/animalwelfare/pets/codesofpractice/;jsessionid=wKt2QJkpM2hwzNmnGsBQZl1L0Mm7yGZJrxl7Bw8yPGGtH7CQwSvd!-848339961?lang=en)