Cat Questions – Common Cat Information

We see several questions that are quite common among cat owners, especially new ones. This article contains some of the most commonly asked questions about cats.

What age should I adopt a kitten?

Kittens are generally ready to leave their mum and go to their new home around 10-12 weeks of age.

When should my cat be spayed/neutered?

This really depends on your vet’s personal preference. However, kittens can be desexed as young as 8 weeks of age. They should definitely have been desexed before six months as some kittens can already reproduce at this young age.

When should I vaccinate my kitten or cat?

F3 (1st shot) 8 weeks
F3 (2nd shot) 12 weeks
F3 (3rd shot) 16 weeks
F3 (booster shot) 12 months
Rabies * 12 weeks
Rabies *(booster) 12 months

Check with your veterinarian if you are required to give your cat the rabies shot. In Australia, it is not necessary unless you are planning to move overseas with your cat but rules and regulations change from country to country.

When should I worm my kitten or cat?

Worm kittens as follows:

  • Every 2 weeks from 2 weeks of age until 12 weeks of age.
  • Once a month from 12 weeks.
  • Every three months from 6 months.

What do I need to buy for my new kitten or cat?

The absolute basics should include:

  • Food and water bowl (preferably ceramic)
  • Cat carrier
  • Bed
  • Cat toys
  • Scratching post

How can I tell if my cat is sick?

Common signs of sickness in cats include:

Cat owners need to keep a close eye on “what’s normal” with their own cats and be conscious of changes. Even the smallest thing like stopping greeting you at the door can be a sign that your cat is not well.

What are some common cat diseases?

  • Cat flu is extremely common and is caused by several viruses and bacteria. The most common causes are feline herpesvirus (FHV), feline calicivirus (FCV), Feline Reovirus, Bordetella Bronchiseptica and Feline Chlamydophila. Symptoms include a runny nose, fever, sneezing, eye discharge, loss of appetite.
  • Hyperthyroidism – Caused by a benign tumour of the thyroid gland. Symptoms include weight loss, increased appetite, poor coat condition.
  • Cystitis – Inflammation of the bladder. Symptoms include frequent urination, crying when urinating, urinating outside the litter tray.
  • Diabetes – There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 in which the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin and Type 2 in which the cells don’t respond to insulin. Typical symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, vomiting, bad breath.

Can I catch FIV from my cat?

No, FIV is species-specific and affects felines only. We can not pass HIV on to cats for the same reason

Can I catch a cold from my cat?

No, it is not possible to catch a cold from a cat, nor is it possible for a cat to catch a cold from you.

Should a pregnant woman get rid of her cat?

No, this is definitely not true. Women are often told this for two reasons. The first is that cats can transmit a parasite known as toxoplasmosis. If she becomes infected during pregnancy it can lead to miscarriage or abnormalities.

If a woman is planning to become pregnant she should be tested for toxoplasmosis. A large portion of the human population has already had prior exposure to this and there is little chance of the fetus becoming infected. The problem arises if a woman becomes infected for the first time during pregnancy.

Precautions should be taken. Where possible, a pregnant woman shouldn’t clean out litter trays, if she must, then she should wear rubber gloves and wash her hands afterwards. Trays should be scooped daily.

Toxoplasmosis can also be transmitted via undercooked meat and unwashed vegetables.

Do cats really smother babies?

In all my time researching this, I found one case where it was suspected that a cat had smothered a baby. It certainly isn’t as common as people seem to think. That said, a sleeping baby and a cat don’t mix. Take precautions to keep the cat out of the cot.

What food should I feed my kitten?

Kittens have different nutritional requirements to adult cats and should be fed an appropriate kitten food. This can be canned, raw or dry.

What do cats eat?

Adult cats can be fed several different types of food. I am personally a fan of mixing it up a little and giving our cat a mixture of canned food twice a day, or a little raw steak and leaving dry food out for him to nibble on when he pleases.

Why does my cat scratch the sofa/curtains/carpet/stairs?

Two reasons. Firstly all cats need to scratch. This helps remove the old, outer layer of the claw and exercises the muscles of the shoulders and legs. A little like us having a big stretch when we wake up on a morning. Secondly, the cats have scent glands between the toes which secrete pheromones. Scratching transfers these pheromones onto the object.

Every cat owner should provide their cat with an appropriate scratching post.

Why is my cat going to the toilet outside the litter tray?

There are several reasons this may be occurring. Medical, dirty litter trays, stress, spraying. You should always seek veterinary attention if your cat is not using the litter tray to determine if the cause is medical or not. Some medical conditions can be life-threatening.

Medical – Feline lower urinary tract disease, bladder stones, bladder infection, diarrhea.

Dirty litter trays – Cats are fastidiously clean animals and don’t like dirty litter trays. Scoop solids twice a day and empty once a week. You should aim for one tray per cat.

Spraying – Spraying is generally down to two reasons. Stress or territorial marking. Stress is common in the cat and could be caused by several reasons. A new family member, inter-cat aggression, overcrowding, change in routine etc.

How many times a day should I feed my cat?

Adult cats should be fed twice a day, morning and night. Kittens and pregnant/lactating cats require more frequent meals, up to 4-5 times a day.

What do cats drink?

Water. They can drink milk but many cats are lactose intolerant, so if you want to give your cat milk, buy the “cat milk” available from your pet shop or supermarket.

Where do you get a cat from?

Cat shelter or a registered breeder.

How long do cats live?

The average lifespan of the cat is 12-14 years. Some cats have lived past 20 years.

What’s the biggest breed of cat?

Maine Coon.

What’s the smallest breed of cat?

The Singapura.

Why do male cats have big cheeks?

Intact (unneutered) male cats who have reached adulthood develop fleshy areas in the cheeks which are known as shields, stud jowls or tomcat jowls in response to the hormone testosterone. These big cheeks protect the vulnerable neck area during territorial fighting and send a signal to other intact males and fertile females of the cat’s physical status.


  • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

    Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio