The most popular pet

Every fourth Swiss household is home to at least one cat which makes cats the nation's favorite pets. Fortunate cats are treated like princesses: They enjoy many comforts and liberties and are spoilt with much loving care – which they pay give back in their very own and personal manner. A harmonious relationship with a happy cat is extremely gratifying.


Frequent animal protection problems

Generally, cats in Switzerland are treated well - but this most popular of pets is also abused:

  • Sometimes, the decision to acquire a cat is not thought through properly. Many people who acquire a cat or a kitten for the first time make the error of believing that cats have few demands or requirements and are easy to keep. Some of the possible consequences of this are neglect, „deadly“ boredom (this primarily applies to cats kept on their own in apartments), behavioral disturbances (often a lack of cleanliness), being dumped in animal shelters – or worse still – being abandoned.
  • Uncontrolled proliferation. Approx. 1.35 million cats live in Switzerland. Roaming and not castrated cats breed rapidly, which leads to overpopulation with all of its consequences: killing of excessive kittens, careless placing, improperly held animals, strays, traffic victims, etc.
  • Fatal illnesses. Cats are extremely sensitive to viruses. Some viruses are highly contagious and the danger of their spreading increases proportionally to the cat population.
  • Unhealthy humanization. Cats want to be treated like cats and not like human beings. There are several possibilities to spoil them in a species-appropriate manner. Feeding them excessively with delicacies of any kind is certainly not a wise way to spoil them. Overweight cats are pitiable, ill creatures.
  • Breeding lapses. Human’s desire to breed new races knows practically no boundaries. Although the breeding of cats is less dramatic or eccentric than the breeding of dogs, there are cat species that should be rejected from an animal protection perspective (cats without tails, without hair; with shortened legs; extremely flat faces; domestic cats crossed with wild cats).

Legal protection of cats

The Swiss Animal Protection Act stipulates the following (article 28 of the Swiss Animal Protection Act as well as article 80, addendum 1, table 11 of the Animal Protection Ordinance):

  • Breeding. The intentional crossing of domestic cats with wild animals is prohibited.Between breeding cycles, tomcats may not be held in enclosures.
  • Social contacts. Cats kept alone must have contact with human beings or sight contact with other cats every day.
  • Living space. Enclosures must be at least 2 meters high and 7 square meters large. Cats may only be held alone in enclosures on a temporary basis.
  • In addition to this, a cat’s living space must have alleviated resting spaces, the possibility to withdraw, appropriate possibilities to scratch and to keep busy as well as one droppings bowl per cat.


These stipulations only cover the absolute minimum requirements that should not prove to be too difficult to fulfill. Consequently, all cat holders are called upon to consider further requirements and what more can be done to ensure the species-appropriate keeping of cats.



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Cats kept in apartments

It is not forbidden to hold cats in apartments. However, cats kept alone in apartments are pitiful creatures. Keeping cats without allowing them to run freely is a great challenge for cat holders. Read more on the subject under “Cats kept indoors”.


Additional information

  • Cat shelter of the Zurich Animal Protection Association