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Posted by Katie oGrady

Looking After Cats – Jean Gardner RSPCA Volunteer

In recognition of World Cat Day please read our blog to find out some top tips from the RSPCA for looking after cats. Domestic cats are incredible pets and live on average fourteen years. They are thought to have originated from the African Wildcat and have the following key characteristics:

  • Highly developed senses
  • Expert hunters
  • Exceptionally agile
  • Incredibly independent
  • Variety of communication methods
  • Total meat eaters
  • Love cat naps
  • Extremely playful
  • Obsessed by cleanliness

However, when considering having a cat as a pet, please remember that they can live up to 20 years so it’s a long term commitment. They are great for the family, however very little children can sometimes be heavy handed, Jean, Volunteer at the RSPCA has some advice for helping parents introduce a cat to a child:

  • Cats can be introduced to children of any age but special care is needed with babies and toddlers. Never leave a baby or toddler unsupervised with a cat.
  • Teach your child never to put his or her face close to the cat.
  • Show the child how to gently stroke the cat’s head and back but not the tail, feet or belly. Explain that poking, squeezing or pulling tails isn’t allowed. Don’t touch the cat when it is eating or sleeping.
  • Encourage quiet voices at all times.
  • Show children how to play with the cat using cat toys. Playing with fingers and toes encourages cats to scratch and bite.
  • If she runs away she has had enough. Make sure the cat has plenty of places to escape to such as a high shelf, under a bed or behind a sofa.
  • Teach older children how to hold the cat properly by putting one hand under the chest and the other hand under the hind quarters. Adult cats should never be picked up by the scruff of the neck

The RSPCA top tips for cat health:

  • Cats have similar pain thresholds as people. They are vulnerable to a range of infectious diseases or illnesses. Try to check your cat for signs of injury or illness daily, and provide a vet health check at least annually.
  • If you notice any unusual symptoms in your cat, seek advice from your vet promptly. Remember, changes might not be obvious as individual cats show pain or distress differently.
  • If your cat needs medical treatment, it can be costly. When you get a cat, consider pet insurance to protect you from expensive vet bills.
  • Help your cat live a calm and relaxed life because it could decrease the risk of illness or disease. Stressed or insecure cats can become unwell. Changes to a cat’s behaviour is an early sign that something is wrong.
  • You need to protect your cat’s health. Ask your vet about vaccination, parasite treatment (e.g. fleas and worms),having your cat spayed or snipped (neutered), etc.
  • Pet health care packages can help manage vet costs, plus ensuring regular check-ups and preventative treatments.
  • To protect against pregnancy, female catsshould be spayed before four-months-old. Your vet will perform this simple operation, also known as ‘neutering’, ‘fixing’, or ‘being done’.
  • Male cat neutering involves a simple operation called the snip. This can protect him against injuries and catching nasty diseases from fighting over mates. It can also stop your cat spraying in the house.
  • Investigate potential health and behaviour problems they could have or develop e.g. as a result of breed, how they’ve been bred and cared for. Some cat breeds have exaggerated physical features which can cause suffering and reduce quality of life; some are also prone to inherited disorders/diseases. If unsure consult your vet for advice.
  • Human and dog medicines can be very dangerous to cats. Make sure you only treat your cat with medicine prescribed to them by a vet.
  • To keep your cat’s coat in good condition, regularly groom them. It can also help identify changes in your cat’s health. If you’re unsure about grooming, or your cat changes it’s grooming habits, consult your vet for advice.
  • Road accidents are the most common cause of injury or early death in cats. Microchipped cats are more likely to be reunited with owners and receive prompt veterinary care if injured. Please speak to your vet about microchipping your pet.


Cats are truly wonderful pets and taking on board the above suggestions will help give your cat the best chance. If choosing a new cat, please do consider adopting one of the many neglected cats the RSPCA North West Middlesex has waiting to join a loving family. For example, there is Gavin and Squeal, two gorgeous kittens who were found in abandoned boxes. Betty is a sweet 6 year old cat whose owner sadly died and Rad has only three legs as he was injured in a road traffic accident and his owners could not be found. Finally elderly cats are often in need of adoption like Eloise who is a beautiful older cat that has been in the care of the RSPCA for a year.

All RSPCA cats have had a full health check, are vaccinated for feline enteritis and cat flu and are micro chipped. They will also be neutered unless they are too young at the time of adoption in which case the new owners will receive a voucher to cover the cost of neutering at the appropriate age.