As you gear up for summer, we should not forget about our cat’s safety, whether indoor, indoor/outdoor or strictly outdoor. Here is a quick checklist to get you started:
Flea and Tick Control: If you have not already started your cat on flea and tick prevention, speak with your veterinarian about which product would be best for you and your cat. Even indoor cats are susceptible, especially if you have a dog who could be serving as a flea taxi. Fleas can also jump 4+ feet, so they can easily make it through the screen of an open window.
Water: Just like dogs, cats need to have a fresh water supply available. If your cat stays outdoors, keep water bowls in the shade and change them several times a day. For indoor cats, make water as appealing as possible by changing it frequently. Additionally, some cats enjoy the playtime aspect of moving water and the flowing water stays oxygenated so it will taste fresh. You can also add ice cubes to the water bowl on extremely hot days.
Climate Control: If you are uncomfortable then chances are your cat is uncomfortable as well. Indoor environments can get very stuffy so pay attention to indoor temps. If you do not have air conditioning at least get a couple of fans going to circulate the air; it will help.
Sun Protection: Keep in mind that cats can get sunburned as well and their ear tips are particularly vulnerable. On very hot days, consider keeping your cat indoors for his own safety and comfort.
Window Safety: Check window screens for any rips or signs of wear that could provide an escape route for a cat. Many cats enjoy sitting in the open window to look outside and you want to ensure that that they won’t easily slip out through a ripped screen. Check the sturdiness of screens as well. A large and determined cat who spots a bird outside may push through the screen. Make sure screens are secure or only open windows enough to let the breeze in. Pet screens and window gates are also available commercially if you want to have your windows fully opened.
Food Safety: Feeding outdoor cats in hot weather can pose a health risk if the food is left out to bake in the sun. There is also the likelihood of ants, other insects and even unwanted furry creatures helping themselves to your cat’s food. Do not leave food out to become contaminated.
Groom Your Cat: Frequent grooming allows you to check for parasites, signs of sunburn or any other things that might need attention. For longhaired cats, having mats can add to the discomfort of the heat so regular grooming will help the skin stay healthier. Also, look at your cat’s paw pads for signs of burns from walking on hot asphalt or signs of insect stings.
Watch for Heatstroke: If you notice your cat is panting, restless or has very sweaty paw pads, it may indicate that the heat is affecting him too much. This can lead to heat exhaustion and can then lead to heatstroke. Always make sure your cat has access to shade, water and cool temperatures. If you see any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian right away.
Do Not Forget Play Time: Your family is spending more time outdoors and having fun but your cat still needs his daily play sessions and interaction with you. Keep on a schedule of daily interactive playtime to help your cat stay mentally and physically stimulated.