Hello and welcome to our Autumn newsletter.
Well, it’s been a very strange and unsettled summer, with the Met Office saying that Surrey and Lincolnshire saw the highest recorded temperature in the UK (32.2C) back in July. However, because this temperature did not last for 3 consecutive days we cannot say that the UK has experienced a ‘heatwave’ this year (although the criteria for this vary from area to area). Never-the- less, due to the high temperatures reached here, and because our newsletters are read by cat lovers all over the world, I do recommend that you read our new web page for advice on the precautions to take for your feline family in very hot weather: https://www.feline-friends.org.uk/dangers-in-very-hot-weather/.
Around the world we have seen so very many tragedies for both humans and animals due to extreme heat. The devastation caused by wild fires and other inclement weather disasters is unimaginable when we sit looking out of our windows at the rain.
Autumn is the most dangerous season of the year for our cats. As usual the days start to shorten, and the darker evenings are arriving so what does this mean for our feline companions?
If your cat goes outside, it may well help to feed them earlier in the evening to encourage them to come home earlier. There tend to be far more road accidents involving cats, and fighting between cats, when it’s dark, so that is why we always advise keeping your cat indoors at night. Remember that if your cats are restricted to the house for longer periods then they will need more litter trays. A rule of thumb is one tray per cat plus one – and more regular cleaning of the trays is obviously needed. If you just cannot face having your cat indoors at nights then the sensible thing for you to do (if you haven’t already) is to buy him/her a ‘reflective’ collar.
If you have a garden then no doubt you will be busy getting it ready for the Winter: trimming bushes and trees, and starting the inevitable chore of collecting-up dead leaves. Many of us start having bonfires to get rid of the resultant rubbish – if we can do this without causing trouble to our neighbours (who might have their washing on the line). All of these activities (except the washing of course) can be a source of danger for our cats.
Please remember that cats are curious creatures so great care needs to be taken that there are no sharp implements or thorns (such as pruned hawthorn twigs and rose cuttings) around that may injure them, and you must make a regular check to ensure that your – or someone else’s – cat is not in any sheds and garages before you lock up.
If you decide to plant Autumn bulbs you must keep them away from pets. Many of them (especially Autumn crocus) can be very dangerous.
If you are burning any garden wastes on a bonfire, please check that you cat has not gone exploring looking for rodents in the pile before you set fire to it and please check for hedgehogs.
Whilst talking about bonfires, November the 5th will be with us soon and we all know that setting off fireworks can start much earlier and last much longer. Most cats are very nervous of sudden loud noises and bright flashes. This is another reason for getting your cats in earlier than usual. Even indoors cats can become extremely distressed by the sounds of fireworks – but, as your vet can advise you, there are products available to help with this, as well as some environmental changes that you can make.
Firstly, make sure that all your curtains are closed, keep the tv on or play some music to try to mask the external noises and give your cat access to a quiet spot, perhaps in an internal room that is quiet and with no windows if possible. As I have mentioned before there are a host of stress relieving products on the market for cats the efficiency of which can be very variable. Please ask your vet for advice on these but be aware that you must start using a lot of these products well in advance for them to have time to take effect, so start thinking about it now.
Every morning after a nearby fireworks display it is sensible to walk around your property to collect up any bits of fireworks which might have landed and which might be a danger to cats.
Energy bills are finally reducing slightly, and we are likely to be putting the heating on soon. It is worth remembering that to a flea, this could feel like the start of summer as the house warms up. If you have not been using flea control regularly through the summer you may find an odd visiting flea appear. More advice regarding flea control can be found at https://www.feline-friends.org.uk/fleas/
With the very damp weather and lots of very tasty vegetables and plants in the garden I have noticed a lot more slugs and snails in the garden recently. I know it is upsetting to see the damage that these creatures can do but it is very important that you do not use most of the slug pellets currently on the market to kill them off. The Metaldehyde in many pellets can be lethal to cats. If you really must use pellets then ensure that they are pet- safe !! Of course, there are lots of much safer alternatives for eradicating/deterring slugs which are just as effective.
In my newsletter last Autumn I mentioned the toxic nature of antifreeze. I will obviously highlight this yet again in my Winter newsletter. However, if the weather later this season turns cold enough for you to consider using it then do please remember to either keep your car in a garage if you have one that your cat can’t get into, of if you keep your car outside on the drive/road then be sure that it doesn’t leak antifreeze. Too many cats can be killed by licking it up.
Yet another danger to outside cats from cars in the colder weather is that, in an attempt to keep warm, they curl up onto the top of the wheels near to the heat of the engine. A sharp double-tap on the bonnet will normally chase them away.
Finally, as temperatures get lower, cats (particularly older ones) can suffer from arthritis and joint problems. Keep an eye out for the signs and talk to your vet if you see any.
I hope that you will all enjoy any celebrations which you might be going to this season. If they are outside then keep warm, and remember our feline companions !
Eric McCarrison BVMS MRCVS
Trustee, Feline Friends (Derbyshire)