Summer Tips for Keeping Your Cats Safe
While you prepare for summer by planning vacations, holidays and activities, take a second to prepare your colony cats for the season. The warmer days can bring cats some serious problems if they aren’t properly taken care of. Here are some tips and things to be aware of so that your companion can enjoy the summer.
- Cats with paler fur are more vulnerable to sunburn, particularly on the ears, nose, and sparsely haired areas.
- Older cats are particularly vulnerable to dehydration. Kittens, pregnant mothers, older cats, obese cats, and cats with heart or respiratory issues have an increased risk of heatstroke.
- Signs of overheating include heavy panting and loss of energy. If you recognize these signs, encourage the cat to drink water.
- Signs of heatstroke include stumbling, collapse, excessive panting, bright red tongue, and dribbling. If you recognize these signs, move the cat to a cool place, wet their coat with cool (not freezing!) water, and contact a vet immediately.
- Keep your cats indoors when the sun is strongest, between 11:00am and 3:00pm.
- Cover vulnerable areas, or regularly apply a non-toxic waterproof human sunscreen. There is also sunscreen specifically for pets.
- Make sure clean water is available to your cat at all times.
- Grooming is important, especially cats with longer coats. Some cats may need their coats trimmed. A tangle-free coat helps to protect the cat’s skin and keep them cool.
- Check your cat’s paw pads for signs of burns from walking on hot asphalt.
- Speak to your veterinarian about flea preventative and which product would be best for your cat.
- Sometimes cats seeking a cool breeze fall out of open windows and get injured or killed. Install tip and tilt windows that allow air into the room without offering access outside to cats, or use a screen across windows when they are open.
- The risk of cats getting shut in sheds, greenhouses, and garages increases during the summer because more cats are left to wander outside. Make sure that your cat is microchipped, with the details up to date. If your cat goes missing, make inquiries and contact local vets and animal shelters in case your companion has been taken to one.
- Make sure the feeding station and shelter are in a shaded and cool place. If it’s too hot for you to stay there, it’s too hot for the cats!
- Provide lots of fresh, clean water at all times. You can out ice cubes in the water to keep it cooler for longer.
- Use light-colored bowls if possible. Dark colors absorb heat.
- If you see fleas on the cats, ask your veterinarian about flea preventative for the cats you can handle safely.
- Keep insects off of cat food: if you place the food bowl in the center of a tray that’s filled with an inch of water, the cats can lean over the water to eat, but ants won’t be able to cross it. Don’t leave wet food unattended.
- Trapping community cats: schedule spay/neuter appointments before you trap, and trap during the cooler hours of the day to avoid keeping the cats in small quarters when it’s hot. Don’t place traps in sunny spots or on asphalt, which gets extremely hot!