Summer is a great season for spending time with your cat. Yet, cats are independent enough for you to head out and enjoy the beach or the park without them if you want to. On the whole, cats enjoy summer too! They love lolling around and basking in sunlight.
However, summer can also be a dangerous time for cats and there are dangers lurking in those endless sunny days. To make sure that your kitty stays safe and well this summer, here are some important summer tips for cats that you should be aware of.
Make Sure That Your Cat Has Access to Water
This is the most important summer safety tip for cat Moms and Dads. All cats must have constant access to clean, fresh water. Unlike dogs, cats often become dehydrated because they simply do not drink. They can be very fussy about the type of water that they find acceptable.
If your cat is refusing to drink, it may be that they don’t like the bowl that you are serving the water in. Plastic bowls can transfer tastes and odors to the water and cats find this off-putting. You may want to try a ceramic or metal bowl instead. Your cat may prefer it if you pop a few ice cubes in the water to keep it fresh and cool on a hot day.
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Many owners find that a cat water fountain is the best option. In the wild, cats would prefer to drink from running water, such as a stream, rather than still water which is often stagnant. A water fountain provides fresh running water which is similar to a stream and cats love them.
If you are concerned that your cat is getting dehydrated, you should talk to your vet.
Provide a Cool, Shaded Area
Heatstroke is also a potential danger for cats in hot weather. It is vital that your cat’s body temperature is regulated during the hottest months of the year. It will help if your cat has a shaded area to rest in, especially when they are outdoors. You can provide shade with trees and shrubs. You can also use special animal tents or canopies which are like miniature versions of a human tent. Even something as simple as an open umbrella is better than nothing.
If you have a cat that you can take out with you, to the park for example, it is important that you take some sort of shade with you. A cat cannot sit in the sun all day without overheating. Therefore, you need to take a pet tent or at least an umbrella with you.
Watch Out for Sunburn
Even though cats have fur, they can suffer from sunburn and this can come as a shock to new cat owners. Sun burn is very unpleasant for cats in the same way as it is for humans.
You can protect your cat using sunscreen but you can’t use human products on cats. Human sunscreen contains zinc oxide and this is harmful to cats. You need to buy a special cat sunscreen that contains no harmful ingredients. If you are not sure which one to choose, your vet can advise you.
You need to apply it to the most exposed areas of your cat’s body. The tops of the ears, the belly and the groin have a less thick covering of fur and these are the areas that can get burnt.
Never Leave a Cat in a Car
There is a lot of publicity about not leaving dogs in cars but the same rule applies to cats. You need to think about this if you are traveling with your cat in this season. The reasons for this are obvious.
Cars get extremely hot, even if you are only away from it for a short period of time and even if you leave the windows open a little. There are too many things that can go wrong. Your cat could get overheated, they may get carbon monoxide poisoning and they could suffer from dehydration. Cats should not be left alone in cars at any time of the year but in the summer months, the heat builds up inside a car and it can be stifling. This is enough to kill a cat or at least make them very ill so don’t take chances.
Take Steps to Deter Parasites
Your kitty will like to spend longer outside during the summer and that means that they are more likely to be exposed to fleas and ticks. Once your cat gets an infestation of a parasite, it can be a lot of work for you and bother for your cat to eradicate them. Also, having parasites living on you is no fun. Your cat will be very agitated and could get secondary skin infections around a parasite bite. Heartworm is a disease that is caused by parasites and which causes severe inflammation of the lungs and heart.
Have a chat with your vet about the best ways to prevent parasites in cats. They will be able to recommend a suitable product for your cat based on their age and health status. Make sure that you follow the instructions that come with the product very carefully.
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Protect Your Cat From Stinging Insects
Stinging insects can be a real problem for humans who want to spend time outside in the summer months. They can also cause problems for your kitty.
There are several stinging and biting insects that could cause problems for your cat. The mosquito is the most dangerous. This little insect causes a painful bite which hurts and causes irritation for several days. Unfortunately, mosquitoes also carry heartworm disease and this can have serious implications for your cat’s health. In some parts of the world, you also have to watch out for spiders and ants that bite cats. They can cause multiple bites and this is very painful for your kitty. Here in the US, Yellowjackets are an additional problem. They are a North American predatory social wasp and they have a sting that is excruciatingly painful. Then, as the sting is healing, it is very itchy. Take great care with your cat if you know that there are Yellowjackets close to your home.
Take Great Care With Chemicals
Another problem associated with spending a lot of time outside is the risk of coming into contact with poisons. There could be things outside that you don’t realize are poisonous for cats. The rodent poison that you left out in the garden, the insecticide that you spread on your lawn and the paint stripper that you applied to your fence – these are all potentially very dangerous for your cat.
Try to supervise your cat when they are outside. Have a quick safety check of your garden or your yard before you let your cat outside. If you do notice that your cat is displaying any symptoms that could suggest that they have been poisoned, take your cat to the vet immediately. Always read and follow the safety instructions that are provided with garden chemicals.
Don’t Let Your Pool Present a Danger
It is no secret that cats are not big fans of water. Unlike dogs who seem to love a swim or at least a paddle, cats will not voluntarily jump into your swimming pool. However, accidents can happen and cats can end up in pools. Sadly, some cats have drowned in this way.
When there is a big crowd of people in your garden, perhaps because you are having a party, it is possible for cats to fall into or get pushed into pools. This may not be noticed by any of the humans at the party. Initially, this will not be a problem. Cats may not like water but they are naturally good swimmers. The problem arises if your cat cannot get out of the pool. Remember that they cannot use swimming pool ladders and the side of pools are slippery. This will cause the cat to panic and thrash around and they will become exhausted and drown if they are not spotted and rescued. The best plan is to lock your cat in the house if you are having a lot of friends over.
Look After Your Cat’s Paws
The paws are a very delicate part of your cat’s body. Cats are constantly on their feet and their paws get exposed to whatever is on the ground.
If you let your cat walk around on paving slabs and on the sidewalk during the summer, check that the ground is not hot enough to burn them. Road surfaces that are very hot, can cause painful burns and blisters on your cat’s paws. Keep checking your cat’s paws for any sign of damage. If they do have an injury, take them to your vet for treatment.
Don’t Forget the Indoor Environment
It’s not just the outside that can cause problems for your cat in the summer months. There are also some hazards inside your home. Houses and apartments can get very hot in warm weather. Therefore, it is important that you make sure that there is plenty of air circulating to keep your cat cool.
Cats will be happier in rooms that are air-conditioned as long as they are not disturbed by the noise. If this is not possible, you can use a fan or just open a window. This will help to prevent suffocation and heat stroke. Check that your AC unit is working well before the hot weather starts.
Keep Windows Screened
Whilst opening your windows is a smart move for keeping your cat cool, it can also present dangers that you need to control. Cats love to sit on and near windowsills. If the window is open and they can have a good look outside with the breeze ruffling their coat, they will love it even more.
However, if the window is any higher than the ground floor, this could be very dangerous. Cats can and do fall out of windows and this is why you need to fit screens. A sturdy screen will stop even a large cat from falling out of a window. It also stops them from leaping out! If something catches your cat’s interest outside, they will often jump out to take a better look. They could get injured and if they are not used to going outside, they could get lost. Check the window screens periodically to make sure that they are secure.
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Try Trimming Your Cat’s Coat
Some cats with long coats have regular sessions at a professional groomer or their owners trim it themselves. If your cat has a very long and thick coat, you may want to trim it even shorter in the summer so that they will be cooler.
Cats with short coats will not need a trim but grooming them is always a good idea. It will remove dead hair and keep the coat healthy. Never be tempted to shave your cat! You will expose them to the risk of severe sunburn because their skin is not adapted to be exposed to the sun.
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Remember That Humidity Is Also a Problem
It’s not just the temperature that you need to take note of. Cat owners also have to think about the humidity levels. If the air is very humid, your cat will not be able to remove heat from their body by evaporation. This will lead to them heating up even quicker and could cause heat stroke.
If you are going to take your cat out and the conditions are very humid, go prepared. Have a thermometer with you just in case you need to check your cat’s temperature. Take plenty of water and try to find a cool place for your cat to rest.
Follow these top tips to keep your cat cool and safe this summer.
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- How to Keep Your Cat Cool in Summer – PDSA
- Summer Safety Tips for Cats as the Weather Heats Up – Alley Cat Allies