Owning A Cat In Switzerland: What You Need To Know

owning cat switzerland

Thinking about getting a cat in Switzerland? Or maybe you’re moving to the Alpine country and you want to know what the rules are if you want to take your pet with you? Either way, you’re in the right place because this guide will tell you everything you need to know about owning a cat in Switzerland.

The good news is that there aren’t too many pet regulations in Switzerland for cat owners. The process of adopting or buying a cat is fairly simple, and cat ownership isn’t generally regulated by Swiss laws. So, keep reading to learn all you need to know about getting or importing a cat in Switzerland!

Rules for Keeping A Cat in Switzerland

Zoe, the Tortoiseshell cat
Zoe, the Tortoiseshell cat

There aren’t too many rules for keeping a cat in Switzerland. Cat ownership isn’t that regulated by law, certainly not as much as dog ownership. You can pretty much just grab the first cat you see on the street, take it home, and become a cat owner.

Cat owners don’t have to be registered in Switzerland, and they do not pay any additional taxes. However, even though cat ownership isn’t legally regulated, there are various recommendations for people who want to adopt or buy a cat and they mostly concern animal welfare.

It is recommended to microchip even indoor cats, in case they run away or get lost. It’s estimated that only 1 out of 5 owners is reunited with their lost cat, and this is because of a lack of microchips. It’s also strongly suggested to spay and neuter your cat, especially for free-roaming cats, to keep from increasing the population of strays.

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Adopting or Buying A Cat in Switzerland

Adopting and buying a cat in Switzerland is pretty easy, at least much easier than doing the same with a dog. While there is an entire list of potentially dangerous breeds of dogs that are not allowed in Switzerland, there are no banned breeds of cats. You can adopt any cat you see in the shelter, and if you want a pedigree cat, you’ll need to turn to a professional breeder.

Such animals are often higher maintenance, especially long-haired breeds like Ragdolls and Persians. But you will rarely find pedigree cats at the shelter and you will need to pay good money for a specific breed of cat.

Adopting a cat in Switzerland is fairly easy – you can literally take in a cat off the street or you can adopt a cat from the shelter. It will usually cost you 150-200 CHF to adopt a cat, but keep in mind that these cats are already spayed/neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, and treated against worms and fleas. In terms of those initial costs, you will spend less money on cat adoption, than if you were to take in a stray.

If you want to purchase a cat, it’s recommended to look for trusted and established breeders. Avoid those who sell cats for very little money because there’s usually something shady going on there, and the last thing you should be doing with your money is supporting someone who is inflicting pain or endangering the lives of these animals.

Importing Cats into Switzerland

Mimi, the Persian Blue
Mimi, the Persian Blue

Considering moving to Switzerland with a cat? It’s possible but you will need to present some documents for the kitty. Depending on which country you’re importing the cat from, the necessary documentation varies. The import of domestic animals is regulated by the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office of Switzerland.

If the cat is an EU resident, all it needs is an up-to-date EU pet passport. Proof of rabies vaccination is also necessary to import a cat and other pets into Switzerland. The cat needs to be immunized at least 21 days prior to the day of entry, and not longer than a year. If the cat had been vaccinated more than a year ago, it must be vaccinated against rabies again, at least 21 days before the trip.

It’s worth noting that Switzerland doesn’t allow entry to kittens younger than 12 weeks. It’s also not possible to vaccinate such young animals, which is one of the reasons why they will be denied entry to Switzerland.

Importing pets from a non-EU country required additional documentation. Proof of rabies vaccination is still necessary, as is an EU health certificate signed by an accredited veterinarian. Import permits are required only if you are importing more than five pets at a time.

Cost of Owning A Cat in Switzerland

Cat Essentials
Cat essentials

The average cost of owning a cat in Switzerland is between 100 and 200 CHF per month. This is what you can expect to spend monthly on food, litter, and toys, but keep in mind that it doesn’t really include any unforeseen medical expenses.

Also, it’s important to note that the first month of owning a cat will be the most expensive one. In addition to the standard expenses of food and cat litter, you need to purchase a kitty toilet, food and water bowls, toys, a scratching post, and some other accessories.

On top of that, when you first get a kitten you need to take it to the veterinary office to get it checked. The cat will need to be neutered or spayed, it might need a pet microchip, vaccines, treatment against worms and fleas, etc. All of that adds up quite quickly, so expect to spend around 500 CHF to cover all the basic expenses for the first week. Keep in mind that this doesn’t include the cost of adopting or purchasing a cat.

It’s 150 CHF to adopt a cat from a shelter, but keep in mind that all the sheltered cats are spayed/neutered and have undergone the necessary medical treatments, so you’ll save some money on the medical expenses, as opposed to taking in a cat from the street. If you want to purchase a pedigree cat, you can easily spend north of 10,000 CHF for certain breeds.

Most Common Cat Breeds in Switzerland

Papaya, the European Shorthair
Papaya, the European Shorthair

The European Shorthair is the most common cat breed in Switzerland. Most of the strays throughout the country are this breed, and it’s the cat breed you will see the most in shelters. European Shorthair is regarded as the original domestic cat, and you’ll commonly encounter it in many European countries, not just Switzerland.

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Tips for Owning A Cat in Switzerland

As a lifelong cat owner, the best tip I can give you is to make sure that you are indeed ready to care for a cat before you adopt/purchase one. If you’ve never owned a cat, sign up for a foster program and see what it’s like to live with one for a few weeks or months first.

Cats shed, they throw up, they might pee everywhere, and they demand quite a bit of attention. Owning a cat is a serious responsibility, and if you’re not ready to care for the animal properly, you shouldn’t bring one into your home.

Owning a cat entails a lot more than feeding it and petting it daily. You’ll need to clean your house more often, you’ll need to pick up poop from the litter box at least once a day and change the litter every couple of days, provide accommodation for the cat when you go on trips and vacations, and a whole lot more.

Also, the difference in owner’s responsibilities substantially varies depending on the breed of the cat. Long-haired cats are a lot more maintenance than short-haired cats because you need to comb their fur every few days to prevent it from getting tangled. These kitties also throw up hairballs more often and need special malzpaste to help them digest the hair.

Pet owners are responsible for the well-being of another living being, and if you have any doubts about whether you are capable of caring for the animal, or providing it with a good home, you should rethink your decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Switzerland a cat-friendly country?

Yes, Switzerland is absolutely a cat-friendly country. There are approximately 1.7 million cats in Switzerland, so your little furry friend would fit right in! 

Are there stray cats in Switzerland?

It’s estimated that there are between 100,000 and 300,000 stray cats in Switzerland. The main culprit for such a high number of strays are owners of free-roaming cats who don’t spay/neuter them. 

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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