Everyone loves summer, even cats! Our feline friends get to enjoy the sun, the warm breeze, and the outdoors in general. But with the hot weather comes a unique set of risks that could harm your kitty. In this article, we’ll go over 8 essential safety tips that will help keep your cat safe and cool during the dog days of summer.
Understanding Heatstroke in Cats
Heatstroke1 is a serious condition that can be fatal to cats, especially those that spend most of their time outdoors. It occurs when a cat’s body temperature rises above 104°F. The most common cause of heatstroke in pets is exposure to extreme temperatures, either from direct sunlight or from being trapped in a hot environment.
Symptoms of heatstroke include:
If your cat is showing any of these symptoms, it’s vital that you take immediate action to cool them down and call a veterinarian.
With that in mind, let’s get to the top tips recommended by vets and pet experts:
The 8 Summer Safety Tips for Cats
1. Keep Kitty Hydrated
Let’s start by stating the obvious: it’s crucial to ensure your cat drinks enough water during the scorching summer days. Always keep their water bowl filled with fresh water throughout the day. You can also add some ice cubes to keep it cold longer. Also, consider varying your kitty’s diet and offering them wet food to help them stay more hydrated.
If your feline friend likes to roam free, you should always make sure they have access to clean water at all times. This can be done by providing them with a water bowl on your porch or setting up a water fountain for cats outside (but keep an eye out for little birdies who might want to take a quick dip in it!).
2. Keep Your Cat Indoors
Cats are natural explorers and hunters, but unfortunately, they can easily encounter dangers like parasites, extreme temperatures, and toxic plants. Keeping your cat indoors will help protect them from these dangers and allow them to have a safe and happy summer.
But if you do decide to allow your cat outside, make sure you do it safely. Find a safe outdoor space where your cat can play, such as a fenced-in yard. Make sure your cat has identification tags on, such as a microchip, so they can be identified if they ever get lost. Also, always keep an eye out for potential dangers, like the neighbor’s cat who might want to fight with your pet.
3. Watch Out for Signs of Heatstroke
As mentioned, you need to be able to recognize the signs of heatstroke1 in your cat. Look for excessive panting, drooling, rapid breathing, vomiting, restless behavior, and lethargy. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your cat to the vet immediately.
Also, flat-faced cats, like Persians, are more susceptible to heatstroke because they can’t pant as effectively. Be even more vigilant if you have such a cat at home, and avoid letting them out.
4. Watch Out for Pests
Summer brings more pests than usual, and these tiny parasites can be dangerous to pets. Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes can carry diseases that can make your cat sick, so make sure to keep up with parasite prevention year-round, but especially during summer.
There are many methods of flea and tick prevention, such as topical treatments, collars, and even oral medications. Regardless of the method you choose, be sure to check your pet regularly for signs of fleas and ticks. If you see any signs of these pests on your cat, bring them to your vet right away to begin treatment.
5. Discipline the Mane
Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. Additionally, you can help protect your cat’s skin from the sun by applying sunscreen, but make sure any product you use is labeled specifically for use on animals.
6. Beware of Toxic Plants
You should be aware of any plants or flowers in your yard that could be toxic to cats. Some common poisonous plants include azaleas, rhododendrons, and geraniums. If you’re not sure, you can look up the plants in question on the Pet Poison Helpline1 website or on the ASPCA’s Toxic Plants List1.
Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center1 at (888) 426-4435 if you suspect your cat has ingested a toxic plant or any other poisonous substance.
7. NEVER Leave Your Pet Alone in Your Car
It’s less common to take your cat on a road trip, but even for short trips to the vet, you should never leave them alone in your car. Even for just a few minutes with the window open or the air conditioning on full blast (think there may be a technical problem) and the car parked in the shade, don’t make the mistake of leaving them there.
Likewise, if you see a pet alone in a vehicle in hot weather, do not hesitate to call 911: an officer will then judge the seriousness of the situation.
8. Monitor Your Cat for Signs of Illness
Finally, it’s essential to monitor your cat for signs of illness. Look for any changes in behavior or appetite, and keep an eye out for any signs of distress or health issues, such as vomiting, lethargy, or diarrhea. If you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible.
With the extra sunshine, cats may feel like exploring their outdoor environment, relaxing in the sun, and enjoying all the summer sights and smells. But with the hot weather comes potential health risks for pets.
Featured Image Credit: Alexander Sobol, Shutterstock