We’re not the only ones desperate to go outside when the weather starts improving. Your cat has big plans that include trading a lukewarm windowsill for a sun-baked patio, lazing away the long days, and casually strolling around the neighbourhood on hot summer nights. But before you set your cat loose on the great outdoors, here are five top summer safety tips from a vet.
1. Protect against fleas
You wouldn’t go outside in the summer without putting on sun-cream. Your cat needs protection too — though not so much from the sun. Applying regular flea and tick preventives stopsyour kitty from becoming irresistible to parasites.
“While they are important year-round for outdoor cats, preventives are essential in the summer when flea and tick populations are at their peak,” according to Dr. Zarah Hedge, DVM, vice president and chief medical officer at the San Diego Humane Society. Fleas can spread disease, and it’s not only your cat that’s at risk. “Cats with fleas can transmit a bacterial infection called ‘cat-scratch fever’ to people by scratching themselves, then scratching their owners. The best thing to protect your cat’s health — and yours — is to put them on flea preventives.” Not convinced? Fleas and ticks can jump from your cat to your carpet, sofa, bedding…and infestations are not easy to stop.
2. Avoid pest poisons
Scampering creatures, like mice or rats, that your cat would love to get their paws on are abundant in the summertime. You might be tempted to use pest control measures, but the same poisons that kill rodents can be just as fatal for cats. Pest poison can cause coughing, trouble breathing, diarrhoea, vomiting, bleeding from the nose or rectum, and death. “Humane, non-lethal pest control methods, including live traps, are a safer option,” says Dr. Hedge. But even if you steer clear of rodenticides, your neighbours may use them. If you notice signs of illness, Dr. Hedge suggests taking your cat to the emergency vet.
3. Eliminate toxic plants
Before choosing plants and flowers to add a pop of colour to your garden, remember that a lot of them — including lilies, tulips, azaleas, and gladiolus — are toxic to cats. They can cause symptoms from vomiting and seizures to kidney failure and heart attacks. Even if you don’t think your cat will be tempted to treat your garden like a salad bar, Dr. Hedge suggests avoiding growing these toxic plants just in case. “Dogs tend to be more indiscriminate eaters than cats, but kittens can be very exploratory and are more likely to get into trouble,” she says.