Pet care & behaviour
Cats are wonderful companions. Each has a unique personality – just like people! Some are shy and quiet while others are outgoing and social; but no matter the personality of your cat, they always rely on you as a guardian to provide a good home with what they need to be happy. Remember, a healthy cat is a happy cat!
Typical life span for a cat
13 – 20 years
How to keep your cat happy and healthy
Cat food and feeding
Kittens need good quality kitten food when they’re weaned. Adult cats do best on a mixture of good quality dry kibble and canned food. Feeding guidelines provided on the bag can help you determine how much your kitten or cat should eat in a day.
It is common for most cats to eat two to three meals a day. Feed the last meal of the day right before bedtime. An adult cat will sleep throughout the night. Kittens may need more meals a day.
Some cats need special diets. Ask your vet for a recommendation for your cat.
Your cat must have access to fresh water all the time. Change the water daily and wash out the bowl regularly.
Cat grooming, teeth and nail trimming
Brush your cat on a regular basis, especially if they are long-haired. Regular brushing prevents hair from matting and removes loose hair. It also will help with hairballs.
To keep your cat’s teeth healthy and tartar free, they need to be brushed daily. Buy a special toothpaste and finger brush from your local pet supply store or at your vet clinic. Do not use human toothpaste.
Nails need regular trimming, usually once a month or as needed. Take care not to cut the blood vessel (the quick) that runs through each nail. Cats who go outside do not need their nails trimmed. They need their nails to climb and defend themselves. If you prefer not to cut your own cat’s nails, a veterinarian can do this for you for a small fee.
The BC SPCA is against declawing cats. Cat’s nails are not like fingernails, they’re attached to the bone. Declawing is a serious surgery. It’s like removing a part of your finger at the knuckle. Read the BC SPCA Position Statement Cosmetic and Other Non-Therapeutic Alterations (PDF). If your cat is scratching furniture, learn what to do.
Identification (ID) for your cat
Nobody plans to lose a pet. Prepare for the unexpected and ensure your cat has two forms of identification.
Indoor cats vs outdoor cats
The BC SPCA recommends that cats be indoors, however, some cats get frustrated indoors and may enjoy outdoor time. Whether you choose to let your cat out or keep them in, know how to provide them with the best environment to keep them happy and safe.
Medical care is important for your cat
Take your cat to see a vet when you first get your cat. After the initial visit with the vet, you may only need to go back once a year for a check-up and vaccinations. Kittens will need to go back more often at first for vaccines.
It is also important to have your pet spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted litters. There are also many behavioural and health benefits to sterilization. Learn more about the benefits of spaying or neutering your pet.
Over time, watch for lumps and bumps on your pet. Also pay attention to signs of your cat not eating or a change in their behaviour. If you notice anything different talk to your vet. Find a veterinarian in your area.
Playtime is a special time with your cat
Cats love to play, explore, run around, use a scratching post and spend time with you. These are all essential activities for cats. Set up your home so your cat can explore, run and scratch on a scratching post.
Make time in your day to play with your cat with a variety of toys, rather than your hands. Learn what to do if your cat or kitten is biting and scratching your hands.
Further resources for cat care and behaviour issues:
It’s always a good idea to look at the benefits and the costs when considering adopting a second kitten. A young kitten will do better with another kitten, but it will cost a bit more because you’ll have two. It’s not always extra work when you adopt two, but it is double the fun for you.
Find a second kitten through the BC SPCA’s adoptable animals page.
Learn more about adopting a second kitten, watch our video:
Fostering an animal means you take a BC SPCA animal into your home and care for them for us. While they’re in your home, we provide you with food and medical care until the pet is available for adoption. Foster families help animals recover from illnesses/injuries or provide them with socialization and love.
If you are unsure about adopting an animal, or unable to make the commitment at this time, fostering can be a great way to bring animals into your life.
While fostering is temporary, many foster families fall in love with the animal in their care and decide to adopt them.
Some general things we look for in foster families:
- Length of commitment from a couple of days to several weeks
- Ability to spend time with the animal every day
- Daily monitoring of the animal as needed
- Ability to accommodate time to transport the animal, as needed, for appointments, treatments and weigh-ins
- Nursing dog with puppies
- Nursing cat with kittens
- Orphaned kittens or puppies
- Sick or injured animals needing medical care
- Animals needing help with behaviour issues
- Puppies and kittens too young to be in the shelter
- Horses and other farm animals
If you are 19 years of age or older, you can view foster care opportunities and apply to become a foster guardian. Learn more about our program, download fostering for the BC SPCA (PDF) and watch the video below.
For questions about fostering horses and other farm animals, email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our horse and farm animal foster application form.