Looking after cats

Pets rely on us for all their basic needs, such as food, water, shelter, grooming, and health care.

Making sure your pet is healthy and well-nourished will not only give them a high quality of life, but also help to keep your costs down. Pet insurance is another thing that might be worth considering, and there are also plenty of day-to-day things you can do when looking after cats to help keep them in good health.

    Everyday needs


      Grooming is especially important for long-haired cats such as Persians, as their fur can become matted and cause discomfort if left untended. However, grooming will be beneficial even if your cat has short fur. Regular grooming can help to keep cats clean, deter fleas and ticks, and reduce shedding, which is especially good if you suffer from allergies. It will also allow you to spot anything that might be cause for concern at an early stage, such as skin problems, cuts or lumps.

      When grooming, always brush in the direction of your cat's fur as brushing against it could cause discomfort and be sure to groom the whole cat. If your cat bolts at the sight of the comb, start with a less threatening grooming mitt to get your cat used to the sensation of being brushed. Try placing brushes around the house, near your cat's favourite napping spots for opportunistic brushing. If your cat can't sit still, do one part each day to keep grooming time to a minimum.


        Kittens start on solid food as early as three weeks old, and should be fully weaned by the time they're ready to leave their mother (about eight weeks). Kittens need regular feeding, and until about the age of six months, four or five small meals a day is ideal; from six months onwards, two meals a day should suffice. Many commercial cat foods are age specific, as cats have different nutritional needs at different life stages, so you could choose to feed your cat depending on whether it's a kitten, adult or senior.

        Most commercial cat foods contain all the nutrients and calories your cat needs, so if you follow the feeding guidelines on the box chances are your cat will be well nourished; bear in mind, treats should be given sparingly to avoid weight gain. Make sure your cat always has access to fresh, clean water, and avoid giving your pet foods that are for humans, as these can be too high in sugar and fat – leading to dental problems or obesity – and some can even be toxic.

          Litter training

          As kittens learn to use the tray by watching their mother, most will already be trained by the time they arrive at their new home. A new environment can be stressful and confusing for a cat though, so make sure the litter tray is easily accessible. Cats are fussy creatures, so making it as easy as possible for your pet to use will reduce the likelihood of accidents. Also be sure to place the tray in a relatively private spot and clean it regularly. Experiment with different brands of litter until you find one your cat likes.

            Basic vet care

              Regular check-ups

              It's important to get your cat checked over by a vet at least once a year, as this can help with early detection of any health issues. More frequent checks may be required if your cat is very old or has a pre-existing medical condition. The vet will most likely check your cat's heart and lungs, eyes, ears, coat, skin and overall body condition.


                There are two main types of parasite that affect cats: external parasites, which include fleas, ticks, lice and ear mite, and internal parasites, which include a variety of worms such as hookworm, lungworm and tapeworm. Different types of parasite cause different health problems, ranging from diarrhoea to anaemia, breathing trouble and hair loss, so it is advisable to get your cat treated regularly. Worming and flea treatment should be done every three months or so for adult cats, and more frequently for kittens (monthly, until six months old). Please note, for flea treatments the regularity of recommended treatment will depend on the type of product used.


                  Getting your pet vaccinated is an important step in preventing disease. Vaccinations for cats can be split into two categories – core vaccinations, which are essential, and non-core vaccinations. In the UK, core vaccinations include feline herpes virus (FHV-1) and feline calicivirus (FCV) (the two main causes of cat flu), feline panleukopenia virus, which causes feline infectious enteritis, and feline parvovirus (FPV). Non-core vaccinations are at the discretion of the owner, and depend on whether or not your cat is at risk judging by their lifestyle. Vaccinations are usually done at nine and 12 weeks for kittens, with a booster 12 months later.


                    Aside from removing the risk of unwanted kittens, neutering can have positive health benefits for cats. If you have a female cat, for example, she is less likely to suffer from certain illnesses and complications, less likely to attract male cats, and less likely to leave you with a litter of unwanted kittens to rehome. Toms that have been neutered are less likely to spray or fight with other cats. Male cats who are looking for a mate can wander vast distances, so if your tom is an outdoor cat, having him neutered can help to keep him close by.

                      Looking for some more information?

                      Expert advice available 24/7

                      Vetfone™ is a 24/7 unlimited, free telephone or video call service that provides expert advice from nurses qualified with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. If your pet has a medical emergency, or you need reassurance on grooming, feeding or general advice, vetfone™ is there to help. Vetfone™ is provided at no additional cost with all Tesco Bank Pet Insurance policies.

                      You can call the vetfone™ freephone* number on 0800 197 4949. *Standard network charges apply. Mobiles may be higher. Please check with your operator.

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                          Conditions that apply to your policy:

                          • We don’t cover any claims that result from any of the illnesses listed if vaccinations are not kept up to date: Cats – feline leukaemia, cat flu, infectious enteritis
                          • We don’t cover pets used for commercial breeding (this means used for breeding more than 2 times in the pet’s lifetime) or as a business or to make money or earn an income.
                          • We don’t pay for preventative or cosmetic treatments, routine examinations or check ups, vaccinations, homeopathic vaccination alternatives, flea, tick or worming treatments, clipping nails, bathing, dematting, spaying or castration.
                          • We don’t pay for admin fees your vet might charge or costs charged by a vet to fill or provide a prescription.