Owning a ... cat
Food and housing
Cats can be fed on a dry diet or on canned meat. The amount required is shown on the packet and depends on the weight of your cat. Cats should stick to a diet once it has been established, with any changes being done gradually over a period of several days. A good feeding routine is biscuits in the morning, with the main meat meal at midday and some more biscuits in the evening.
Prices of canned foods on the market range from around 50p to £1.00. Dry foods on the market are under £1.00 per 400g box.
The larger the cat, the more she will eat, so the more expensive it will be to feed her. Many cats are very fussy and once they like a particular type of meat will refuse to eat any other. Fresh water must be provided at all times. Kittens should be fed on kitten milk until they are old enough to eat meat. 'Junior' varieties are available for kittens. Likewise, 'Senior' foods are availble for cats over eight years old.
Cats don't really require much in the way of housing. Some cats may like a basket to sleep in, although most prefer a human bed! A scratching post is a must, as it helps to keep the claws in good condition and (hopefully) prevents the cat from scratching the furniture.
You will need a food bowl and a water bowl, both of which should be heavy so as not to tip over or slide along the floor when the cat is trying to eat or drink. The water should be changed every day and may need topping up during hot weather. Cats should not be fed cow's milk as it is not good for them.
Your cat will need a collar if it likes to go outside. This is essential as it provides identification incase the cat gets lost or is involved in an accident. Cats can get their collars snagged and end up choking themselves, so it is a good idea to get a collar with an elasticated section to prevent this. The collar should have a tag with your telephone number and your vet's telephone number.
The average pet cat kills up to 40 small animals each year. With 9 million pet cats in the UK this means that there are nearly 300 million deaths each year, some of which are endangered species. To help reduce these deaths, it is a good idea to fix a bell to the collar too, so that any wild animals being stalked can escape before it is too late...Cats can learn to stalk without jingling the bell, so fit two to make it more difficult. If your cat is a house cat it doesn't need to wear a collar. Kittens should not be allowed outside until they are fully vaccinated.
You will need a litter tray to house train your cat. These trays are plastic and should be filled with a deep layer of cat litter before use. Once your cat is house trained you won't need the litter tray any more. However, house cats will need their litter tray all the time.
Your cat will enjoy having some toys to play with - ping pong balls, toy mice, catnip toys and lengths of string are all good toys. Be careful when playing with string since the cat could become tangled - don't leave your cat alone with a string toy. There are also other toys, such as 'crinkle bags' and little cat houses which cats can play in. Most cats love cardboard boxes and will spend hours leaping in and out. My cat adores feathers, and spends hours hunting and loving them.
You might like to fit a catflap so that your cat can get in and out. If you do get a catflap, neighbouring cats might decide to come in. This is fine if the cats are friendly and don't cause any trouble but some steal food, or if they are toms will sometimes spray in your house. Catflaps with magnetic catches are available to help stop this.