Summertime hazards for cats
With the lovely long warm days of summer, most cats spend a greater period of time outdoors. Unfortunately this means that we can see more cat fights, dog bites and road traffic accidents as a result.
We also occasionally see injuries associated with BBQs, including burns – where cats have jumped onto the hot BBQ and digestive upsets after eating food they wouldn’t normally.
- Fresh food and water. Ensure your cat always has fresh water available. Just like us they will need to drink regularly to avoid dehydration in the warmer months. Some cats prefer to drink outside, so it is worth checking your pond does not become stagnant or develop algae as this can cause serious illness in pets. Also make sure your pond (or swimming pool) has an escape route should your pet fall in. Always remove any uneaten food as soon as the cat has finished eating to prevent contamination from flies, or spoiling due to the hot weather.
- Hot spots. Cats love sunbathing but will often choose an inappropriate spot. Try and ensure your cat does not get locked into the greenhouse or car by accident. Never leave a cat in its carrying basket in the car when it is hot, even with a window open. Heat stroke kills rapidly. The signs are obvious; your cat will be restless, pant excessively and drool. If your cat is not treated quickly he will collapse and fall into a coma. If you suspect that your cat is suffering from heat stroke, lower its temperature by bathing it in cool - not cold - water and seek veterinary attention immediately... this is an emergency.
- Sun Screen. Animal safe sunscreens are available and it is worth considering applying some to your cat’s ears and nose, especially if they are light coloured. During the summer months it is not uncommon to see white cats suffering from sunburn and just like us this can lead to cancers of the nose and ear.
- Fishhooks. Fishing is a popular spring and summer activity and we occasionally see cases where cats have eaten bait – along with the hook. We have also seen cases where cats have stepped on hooks. If your cat has stepped on or swallowed a fishing hook – DO NOT PULL ON THE LINE. Tie the line to your pet’s collar or keep hold of the end to prevent them swallowing the whole lot and contact your vet.
- Parasites. Parasites such as fleas and ticks are more prevalent in the warmer months. Regular treatment with the appropriate product should keep things under control. Check your pet's fur frequently for any signs of fleas or flea dirt. If you are struggling to keep parasites under control make sure you have treated your cat’s bedding and the house and speak to your vet for further advice about the best products to use. Read more about how to protect your cat from ticks, mites and fleas.
- Bites and stings. Insect stings are another potential summer hazard for cats, particularly for those who can't resist trying to make friends with bees flying from flower to flower. If your cat is stung near its mouth or in its throat the airway may swell and restrict breathing. Some cats may also be allergic to bee and wasp stings. If you think your cat has been stung, contact your vet for advice. Read more about dealing with insect stings.
- Adder bites. Rarely seen, but occasionally cats will disturb an adder in the long grass. Bites result in swelling, pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, incoordination and collapse. If you think an adder has bitten your cat seek veterinary help immediately.
- Poisoning. During the summer sheds and garages are often left open, so it’s easy for cats to get in and contaminate their paws with chemicals, which they then lick off. If you think your cat may have been poisoned contact your vet immediately and give them as much information as you can. Find out more about common seasonal poisons for cats.
Vets Now assumes no liability for the content of this page. This advice is not a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health - even if they are closed, they will always have an out of hours service available. Find out more about what to do in an out of hours emergency.