What’s Involved In Caring For A Cat

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  • Cats are a popular pet for many reasons. They offer companionship and affection without asking for much in return. But they do have needs that are important to understand before deciding to bring a cat into the home.

    Adequate shelter

    It is apparent that many cat owners still think it is normal for a pet cat to live its life outside. This isn’t much of a life for a cat and isn’t a socially responsible thing to do. Firstly, how do your neighbours feel about your cat roaming into their garden? Outdoor cats pose a risk to wildlife; even a well-fed cat will still hunt. Your cat is also at risk himself; there are cars, dogs, and other cats. He runs the risk of bite wounds from fighting other cats and possibly catching FIV or FeLV as a result.

    If you must let your cat roam, it is recommended you do so during the daylight hours, and bring your cat inside from dusk to dawn, when the native wildlife is at its most vulnerable. But bear in mind, if you have a white-nosed cat, it is at greatest danger of exposure to the sun during daylight hours. If your cat is outdoors, ensure you provide adequate shelter from rain, wind and the sun.

    Food and water

    Food and water are basic requirements essential to life and is your responsibility to ensure it is fed a good quality balanced diet made for cats and is given fresh, clean water daily. Kittens have different nutritional demands to adult and senior cats; we recommend that you feed the appropriate food for your cat’s age.


    Cats are clean by nature, and generally, if they are provided with a litter tray, they will use it. It is up to you to ensure that solids are removed daily and the litter changed frequently. As a rule of thumb, have one tray per cat, plus one extra.


    Generally speaking, shorthaired cats don’t need to be groomed. Regular stroking will help rid the coat of loose hairs. Many of the longhaired breeds do require daily grooming or their coats will mat. This is extremely uncomfortable and painful to your cat and will need a visit to the vet and sedation to have the mats clipped out.


    Can you afford to own a cat? Day to day expenses aren’t too bad, cat food, cat litter, flea and worming medications and a yearly health check/vaccinations. But sometimes the unexpected happens, and your cat requires veterinary attention which can run into thousands. Can you afford to pay vet bills? Think about the future, will you have children and go down to one wage? If so, will you still be able to afford to care for your cat properly?

    Love and attention

    Cats require mental stimulation and enjoy love and care from their carer. So ask yourself if you are prepared to meet these needs?


    When you go on holiday, you will have to either find a friend or neighbour who is willing to care for your cat, find a professional pet sitter or board your cat.

    Veterinary care

    Routine veterinary includes an annual checkup and vaccination.
    It is a fact of life that we all get sick from time to time, and this certainly applies to cats. Veterinary bills can quickly run into the hundreds and even thousands of dollars. The best way to be ready is to either have a bank account set aside for veterinary emergencies, where you put $5-10 a week into, or take out pet insurance. But there would be nothing more heartbreaking than being faced with a substantial veterinary bill you can not pay.


    Your cat will require monthly flea and worm medication.


    If you can answer these questions with an honest yes, then having a cat is probably right for you. However, it is a long-term commitment that you have to be sure of. A cat is a living creature and deserves to be in a home that will meet his needs both in the present and the future. If you are not sure you can meet his physical, emotional and financial needs, then it is better not to get one.


    • 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