Welfare of cats: the need for a suitable environment

Your cat needs a safe environment to live in, whether it lives inside or outdoors.

Examples of dangers

Examples of dangers in and around the home include:

  • household chemicals
  • poisonous plants
  • open windows or balconies in high buildings, which your cat might try to get out of
  • cars

All cats need a safe, comfortable place to rest undisturbed. Some cats, such as farm cats that live outdoors, need access to a safe shelter. Living in a cold or wet place, without shelter, can lead to unnecessary suffering.

A cat must be able to avoid things that scare it, including other cats. They all need a place to hide where they feel safe. They often feel safest when high up. If unable to hide and avoid threats, your cat may suffer anxiety and chronic stress, which can lead to illness.

Cats need to be active

Cats are naturally curious. They are athletic animals and need opportunities to run, jump and climb. If a cat is bored, and does not have enough to do, it may suffer.

Cats are naturally clean animals and need regular, easy access to an appropriate place to go to the toilet. They do not like to use heavily soiled areas. Some cats need to use an indoor toilet area, for example a litter tray.

Cats are territorial and become very attached to places. They are naturally frightened of unfamiliar places and smells. For example, if you move your cat to a new home, it may be frightened by the presence of cats that have already established territories in the area.

You may at some point need to transport your cat by car or some other form of vehicle. Your cat has no control over this environment so try to ensure its comfort. Your cat should never be left alone in a vehicle in warm weather.

Make a suitable home for your cat

You should:

  • provide your cat with a safe, comfortable, dry, draught-free, clean and quiet place where it can rest undisturbed - you should change your cat’s bedding regularly
  • take all reasonable steps to protect your cat from hazards indoors and outdoors
  • allow your cat, if it spends a lot of time outdoors, to be with its owner and be part of the family environment
  • make sure your cat has constant access to safe hiding places, where it can escape if it feels afraid
  • make sure that your cat is not tied up
  • make sure it has plenty of activities to do and enough space to exercise, climb and play indoors - if it does not go outside
  • provide your cat 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
  • if you have any concerns about moving to a new home, or transporting your cat, you should consult a vet or other suitably qualified cat care specialist
  • make sure that any place you leave your cat is large enough at all times and has a comfortable area with effective ventilation and temperature control - your cat must be able to move around comfortably and be able to avoid becoming too hot or too cold
  • not leave your cat unattended in an unsafe environment, or for any period of time that is likely to cause it distress

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