Summer is finally here. Just a few simple precautions will keep your kitties cool, safe, and healthy through the sunny days.
Heatstroke is a deadly summer visitor. Although it is more common in dogs, cats can suffer from overheating too. If your cats go outside, make certain that fresh water and shade are available at all times. Cats are good at hiding their ailments, so it might not be apparent that your cat is overheated. Cats might have originally been desert creatures, but if it's hot for you, it's probably just as hot for a kitty in a fur coat!
Symptoms of overheating include: panting, shaking, lethargy, and vomiting. If overheating occurs, get kitty out of the heat. Take his temperature and get him into some cool water, until his temperature is below 103. Then, you can wrap a cool, wet towel around him. He might not like it, but it could prevent things from getting worse. Heat exhaustion is an emergency! Even though kitty might appear fine, his internal organs could be affected. Call your vet.
Want a cool cat? Put some frozen peas in a plastic bag and wrap it in a towel. Place it where he sleeps for a nice, cool nap. An ice cube in his drinking water can keep it cool, unless he decides to take the ice out and bat it around for summer fun.
If you have a white cat, remember that he can get sunburned, even through a closed window. His skin will turn red and burn just like ours. Ask your vet what he recommends for a safe sunscreen, especially for kitty's nose and exposed parts, since cats constantly groom and will lick anything you put on them. Aloe is usually safe and soothing. Sunburn will heal. However, bleeding, small pimple-like spots, or sores that don't heal can be a sign of skin cancer. Early treatment, can mean the difference between life and death.
Anti-freeze is just as dangerous in the summer as it is during the winter months. Cars tend to overheat and boil over, spilling anti-freeze all over ground. The sweet taste of that green liquid can be a deadly temptation for a thirsty cat. There are some safer anti-freeze products available. They're a little more expensive, but I think they're worth it.
Pesky insects are everywhere in the summer! Hunting them might be a fun activity, until kitty decides to mess with the wrong bug.
Bee stings and spider bites are common during the warm months. A little ice will take down the swelling, along with 1/2 teaspoon of Children's Benadryl (or any other brand of Diphenhydramine). It might make him a little sleepy, but it's not harmful and it works for all kinds of allergic reactions. You can use a little anti-biotic ointment, but keep in mind he'll probably lick it off.
If kitty gets stung by a bee, you'll have to remove the stinger. The best way to do it is to gently scrape it out with a credit card or straight edge. Removing it with a pair of tweezers could squeeze more venom into the skin. A little vinegar will help keep the itching and burning away.
Ticks have heat sensors and just hang out waiting for a victim. It takes hours before a tick imbeds itself. So, if your cat has been outside, make sure you check his body thoroughly. Throw those ticks in a little alcohol bath to kill them, pronto. If the critter has already made itself comfortable inside his skin, grab the tick as close to the skin as possible (use a pair of tweezers if you don't want to touch it) and pull it straight out. There might be a little bump where the tick was removed, but the swelling will subside. Even if you don't remove it, the tick will fall off after it fills itself up with blood. Female ticks drink more than males, just so you know. (Yuck) You can keep the tick in a capped medicine bottle for testing. Watch for signs of a rash, limping or fever. If you notice any of those symptoms, call your vet.
Mosquitoes aren't a big problem with most cats, as their fur protects them from the bites. However, noses and bellies don't have as much protection, and some cats are extremely sensitive to the bites. Cats have powerful immune systems and will kill off most parasites. Just remember that mosquitoes can cause heartworms. Make sure buckets and garbage pails are not collecting rainwater that could be a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Cutting your lawn a bit shorter will allow the sun to penetrate and kill susceptible larvae. Also, Catnip is supposed to be better than DEET as a natural insect repellant! Seems like a great way to keep kitty happy and keep the bugs away at the same time.
In the U.S.A., the 4th of July is a time for outdoor parties and celebrations. Unfortunately, your pets don't see it that way. The noise and commotion of fireworks and visitors are enough to send even the mellowest kitty into hiding. Provide a nice, safe place for him. Rub his scent (and yours) on a small blanket and place it in open box, in a closet, or under the bed. Keep his litter-box, food and water nearby, and keep him indoors for the day. Some cat-parents have had success with Flower Remedies and homeopathic cures. There are even cat friendly pheromone plug-ins available. Just keep in mind that some essential oils might have a negative effect on cats, and can even exacerbate asthma! Enjoy your barbeques, but don't allow guests to share the food with your kitty. Hamburgers and hot dogs are not cat food. (That's another story).
So, before it gets crazy, just pull the shades, turn on the lights and turn up some nice, soothing music. Harp, flute, and piano music even calm me! Remember to take a couple of "stress" breaks, yourself!
Have a wonderful, safe summer!
Diana, Loki, Sidney, and Jennyanydots