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Keeping a cat

There is a Japanese saying: "A dog will remember three days of kindness for three years, a cat will forget three years of kindness after three days." That makes it all the more important to know what cats need.

Basic needs

In addition to an adequate supply of food and water, the basic needs of cats include:

  • hunting or hunting games
  • moving around
  • observing
  • resting and sleeping
  • social contact
  • personal hygiene

You can find more information about the needs of cats in our leaflet.

Lurking or chasing: whether with real prey or a play mouse – hunting is one of the basic needs of every cat.
Cats are very social and easily form friendships if they have had contact with other cats from an early age.

Keeping a cat indoors or outdoors

Meeting the basic needs of cats is more difficult when they are kept indoors. However, the owner can furnish the apartment in a cat-friendly way and provide various new toys. It is highly recommended not to keep indoor cats alone – there should always be another cat to play with. 

If a cat is kept outdoors, it can satisfy many of its needs on its own. Nevertheless, cat owners must take additional care of their pets. Especially during the breeding season of birds, cats should regularly be played with. As a result, they are less likely to act on their need to hunt young birds and more likely to tolerate their "house arrest" in the morning. The downside of keeping a cat outdoors is the danger (traffic or other animals). 

Keeping a cat in a secure outdoor enclosure is a compromise. The cat can fulfill its needs outside but is not exposed to the dangers of roaming wildly. 

Merkblätter zu Freigängerkatzen

Before keeping a cat outdoors, it should be neutered, chipped, and at least six months old, preferably 12 months.

Equipment for cats

  • food and water bowls
  • litter trays (at least two in different locations, as big as possible and without a cover)
  • cat tree with scratching pillars and raised lying areas
  • sleeping place
  • toys
  • transport box

Additionally useful:

  • cat door
  • balcony and window protection
  • cat stairs if necessary

For the complete equipment, one has to expect costs of at least CHF 200. Depending on the quality of the items, the expense can be significantly higher.

A net on the balcony prevents the cat from falling and injuring itself.
Shy cats like to observe their surroundings from a safe hiding place.

Nutrition of cats 

An appropriate and balanced diet is essential for a cat's health. Since cats are obligate carnivores, a vegan diet is not adequate and should therefore not be offered! However, this is not the only aspect that needs to be considered. You find detailed information on this subject in our leaflet "Information on cat nutrition" as well as in the chapter "Preventing obesity in cats".

Health and care of cats

There are a few things to bear in mind to keep your cat healthy – because prevention is better than cure. You will find information on vaccinations, parasite prevention, and care measures in our information sheet «Infos rund um die Gesundheit und Pflege von Katzen» [Information on the health and care of cats]. In addition, you will find essential points concerning regular health check-ups in our checklist «Wie bleibt mein Haustier lange fit und gesund?» [How does my pet stay fit and healthy for a long time?]. Consult a vet in case your cat behaves conspicuously, appears ill, or is injured.

Always have the emergency number of your vet or a veterinary clinic handy so that your cat can quickly receive help in an emergency.

Reproduction and castration of cats

Cats are very fertile – within ten years, a population of 80 million cats could result from one pair of cats. Therefore, both females and males should be neutered. Depending on the development of the animal, castration can be carried out from the age of four to six months. This procedure also increases the life expectancy of a cat. 

  • Reproduction of cats

    Cats can have up to three litters a year. When they are ready to mate, they call loudly and mark more often to attract males. If a cat in heat is not mated, it will be ready to mate again soon after. Nine weeks after mating, the cat gives birth to up to six kittens, which are suckled for eight weeks. However, they should remain with their mother until they are at least 12 weeks old to be properly socialized to other cats.

  • Advantages of castrating a cat

    Being in heat means a lot of stress for a female – many cats even stop eating. If a cat in heat is not mated, the interval between the periods when it is in heat can become shorter and shorter until one speaks of permanent heat. That increases the risk of tumors and inflammation of the uterus. Neutered cats will no longer be in heat, have less stress, have a lower risk of diseases, and are more compatible with other cats.

  • Advantages of castrating a tomcat

    Unneutered males roam widely in search of a cat willing to mate. They also react aggressively to other males. Neutered tomcats have a smaller roaming area and are involved in fewer fights. In addition, neutering prevents them from starting to mark the house with urine.

  • Disadvantages of castration

    Neutered cats and tomcats have less stress and smaller areas to roam. However, neutering changes their metabolism, which is why they need less food. If the daily ration is not reduced, they become too fat. You can find tips against this in the chapter "Preventing obesity in cats".




Cats should be regularly vaccinated against feline epidemics, cat flu, and leucosis.
Cats are very fertile and can have three litters a year.

Legal basis of keeping a cat

Keeping cats is subject to various laws: the Protection of Animals Act and the Animal Protection Ordinance. In addition, cats are listed in the Hunting and Wildlife Protection Act as huntable all year round. The conditions as to when cats may be shot are regulated on the cantonal level.

As a cat owner, you are legally obliged to ensure that your cat can maintain sufficient social interaction with other cats or humans. Furthermore, you have to care for your cat and look after it in an animal-friendly manner if it is ill or injured. 

Prohibited actions

The following actions, among others, are explicitly prohibited when keeping a cat:

  • getting domestic and wild cats to mate
  • removing claws
  • abandoning or leaving the cat in order to get rid of it
  • keeping cats permanently in cages

Animal protection issues when keeping a cat

When keeping a cat, various developments are relevant to animal protection. The main animal protection issues are:

  • Thoughtless acquisition

    Whether on farms or in small ads: cats are easy and quick to acquire. However, the needs of the animals are often not taken into account. As a result, the owners are overwhelmed with the care of the cats, and cats react with uncleanliness. Most of the time, the cat is then sent to an animal shelter. In the case of cats kept outdoors, it is not uncommon for them to wander off and become feral.

  • Uncontrolled reproduction

    Cats are very fertile and have up to three litters a year. The only way to prevent uncontrolled reproduction and the associated problems is by neutering (read the chapter "Reproduction and castration of cats").

  • Lack of identification

    Cats do not have to be chipped. However, should an unchipped cat run away or travel to another city as a stowaway, it is almost impossible for the police, animal shelter, or vet practice to find the owner. A chip also helps the municipality. The owners can be informed in case of a traffic accident with a cat. 

  • Torturous breeding

    Focusing on appearance has led to cats suffering from health issues. Although the situation is less dramatic than with dogs, there are breeds that one should refrain from buying. You will find more information in the section "Acquisition of cats" under "Torturous breeding". 

  • Impact of cats on biodiversity

    Cats are skilled hunters, which can harm wildlife in your garden and the neighborhood. Since many cats need a wide area for a balanced and good life, preventing cats from hunting wildlife is not completely possible. However, one can reduce a cat's hunting success (read more under "Cats and wildlife"). 

Cats from uncontrolled breeding are often poorly cared for and roam wildly.
Anything but cute: every cat with lop ears suffers from a painful change in the bones and cartilage.

Preventive care

Be prepared for an emergency and save your cat from unnecessary suffering.

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