Cat Code Of Welfare

Owning and caring for a cat can be a source of great enjoyment, but cat ownership is also a major responsibility. If you own or are responsible for a cat, and fail to meet its welfare needs or cause it unnecessary suffering, you may be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act. The following is a guide to the responsibilities of cat ownership taken from the government's code of practice for the welfare of cats.

Following these will ensure that your cat has all of its needs provided and keep you within the law.

Environment:  Cats need a suitable place to live.

  • Provide your cat with a safe, comfortable, dry, draught-free, clean and quiet place where it can rest undisturbed.
  • Take all reasonable steps to protect your cat from hazards indoors and outdoors.
  • Make sure your cat has constant access to safe hiding places, where it can escape if it feels afraid.
  • If your cat does not go outside, make sure it has plenty of activities to do and enough space to exercise, climb and play indoors.
  • Your cat should be provided with a suitable toilet area that is quiet and easily accessible.
  • Before you move your cat, you should gradually get it used to a secure cat carrier. Putting familiar smelling items in the carrier and any place you move your cat to can help it feel at ease.

Cats need a healthy diet.

  • Provide your cat with fresh clean drinking water at all times.
  • Cats are meat eaters. Make sure your cat eats a balanced diet suitable for its individual needs.
  • If you are uncertain of the diet your cat needs, take advice from one of our members of staff.
  • Read, and be guided by, the feeding instructions relating to any cat foods you buy. Adjust how much you feed your cat to make sure it does not become underweight or overweight.
  • Be aware that any change in the amount your cat eats or drinks may be a sign of ill health.
  • Feed your cat every day, preferably splitting the daily ration into several small meals throughout the day, unless advised otherwise by your vet.
  • Position your cat's food and water well away from the litter tray, or things that it finds frightening.
  • Any changes to your cat's diet should be made gradually.

Make sure your cat can behave normally.

  • You should ensure your cat receives enough mental, social and physical stimulation to satisfy its individual behavioural needs.
  • Provide your cat with safe toys and regular opportunities to play with friendly people and by itself.
  • Ensure that your cat is able to rest undisturbed when it wants to.
  • Make sure your cat has opportunities to exercise each day to stay fit, happy and healthy. If your cat does not go outside, provide suitable indoor activities to keep it active.
  • Provide your cat with somewhere to scratch, such as a sturdy scratching post.
  • Make sure that your cat can reach all the things that it needs (e.g. bed, food, water, litter or outdoors) without having to get too close to things, people or other animals that may scare it.
  • You should know how your cat behaves when fit, healthy and happy. If its behaviour changes or becomes a problem it could be distressed, bored, ill or injured and you should seek our advice.
  • Never shout at or punish your cat. It will not understand and will just become more nervous or scared.

Make sure your cat has appropriate company.

  • Some cats enjoy company but many prefer to live alone. If your cat likes people, provide regular contact with them even when you are away.
  • Before getting a second cat, think carefully how your existing cat will respond to company. Check that you will be able to look after each animal properly and seek our advice on the best way to introduce the new cat into the home.
  • If you have cats that are not friends, make sure they have the opportunity to avoid each other and that they can access everything they need (e.g. food, water, outside space, litter tray, rest area) without having to pass one another too closely.
  • Do not force your cat to interact with people or animals that it does not like, and make sure it can avoid them.
  • If more than one cat shares a living space, provide sufficient extra resources (e.g. toys, beds, litter trays and hiding places) and give them enough space so that they can get away from one another if they want to.
  • Ensure that cats in your care are handled properly and are not stressed or endangered by other adults, children or animals.

Protecting your cat from Pain, Suffering, Injury and Disease

  • Check your cat for signs of injury or illness regularly and make sure that someone else does this if you are away. You should examine your cat closely, including its coat, which should also be checked for parasites such as fleas.
  • If you notice changes in your cat's behaviour, you should contact us and follow our advice.
  • If you suspect that your cat is in pain, ill or injured contact us promptly and follow our advice regarding its treatment.
  • Try to minimise fear and stress in your cat's daily life. By doing so you will decrease its risk of certain illnesses.
  • To protect your cat's health it needs a health check at least once each year. Older cats and kittens need more frequent checks.
  • Most cats need annual vaccination to protect against the most common infectious diseases.
  • Most cats need regular treatment for worms, fleas and other parasites.
  • Unless you intend to breed from your cat we advise that it is neutered while it is young.
  • Long haired cats may need assistance with grooming. Contact our staff for advice on how to do this.
  • Only use medicines and drugs that have been prescribed for your individual cat. Human products and medicines intended for other animals can be dangerous to cats and sometimes fatal.
  • You should always contact us immediately if you are concerned that your cat has come into contact with any chemical or other substance that could be harmful. You should also be aware that cats regularly groom themselves and may ingest or come into contact with a poisonous substance when doing so.
  • Make sure your cat can be identified so that it can be treated quickly if injured when away from home, or returned to you if lost. Make sure any collars fit properly and are not harmful and use a microchip as a form of identification.
  • Seek our advice before allowing your cat to breed.