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There are approximately eight million cats kept in the UK [Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) 2012].

They all vary in size, body shape and temperament. The majority of cats owned in the UK are non-pedigrees. Typically, cats live for fourteen years, but many live for much longer. Take a look at a Medivet infographic showing the average lifespan of popular breeds of cat.

Your duty to care

Owning and caring for a cat is great fun and very rewarding, but it is also a big responsibility. If you own or are responsible for a cat, even on a temporary basis, you are required under the Animal Welfare Act to care for it properly.

Understanding cat's needs

Cats retain much of the biology and behaviour of the wild cats they originated from, this means they have very complex needs that must be met if they are to be kept healthy and happy.

There is no one 'perfect' way to care for all cats because every cat and every situation is different. It is up to you how you look after your cat, but you must take reasonable steps to ensure that you meet all its needs.

Read our expert reviewed pet care information to find out more about the needs of cats: Environment, Diet, Behaviour, Company and Health and welfare.

You can also download our booklet: How to take care of your cat (PDF 1.90MB).

Cat factfile

Domestic cats (Felis catus) are thought to originate from the African Wildcat and retain much of this species’ biology and behaviour. Why not view our full Cat Factfile (PDF 44KB).

Cats have highly developed senses

  • Cats can detect higher frequencies of sound than dogs or humans.

Cats use a range of methods to communicate

  • Cats communicate visually using different body postures, facial expressions, ear and tail positions, as well as visual markers such as scratch marks or the deposition of faeces.

Cats are territorial

  • Cats mark their territory by scratching, spraying urine and depositing faeces.

Cats are meat eaters

  • Cats cannot survive without the nutrients found in animal-derived materials.

Cats are playful

  • Play helps improve motor skills, brain training and social behaviour.

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