Welcome to this years’ summer newsletter. We continue to send you quarterly newsletters in which we give seasonal advice regarding your cats’ welfare and additional up-to-date information about cats in general. Some of the seasonal advice will be similar to that which I gave you last summer however, as veterinary research is always moving forward there may well be new information this time. Additionally, I’m aware that our mailing list is constantly increasing, and we must think of all those cat lovers who have joined us since the summer of last year.
So – let’s start with the perennial subject of fleas. As many of you will know the summer is the peak season for flea activity – coinciding with warmer temperatures. If you do not use year-round flea protection (and I hope that you do) then this is, most certainly, the time to start with serious flea control.
There is a bewildering array of flea products on the market and it can be very confusing to decide which one to use. As a general rule, those provided by your vet are likely to contain the most modern and safest drugs and are probably the easiest to use and are the most effective not only at killing active fleas but also to control their life cycle.
NEVER USE DOG FLEA PRODUCTS FOR CATS
An advice sheet is available at Fleas – Feline Friends (feline-friends.org.uk)
Under legislation which is currently going through Parliament all cats will need to be microchipped by June the 10th 2024. From personal experience I was always very grateful if a lost cat had a Microchip when it appeared at our surgery because that meant that the owner could usually be found easily. Cats are likely to be spending more time outdoors with the obvious increased risk of going missing or even – unfortunately – having an accident. If a severely injured cat is taken to a vet, and no owner can be found it can make the difference between that cat getting treated or not.
While thinking about Microchips; some owners may want to take their cat on holiday with them and if that means travelling on the continent then, since Brexit you need to be aware that the rules have changed. The previous Pet Passport can no longer be used and you will need to get an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) from your vet. Your cat will need to be Microchipped and vaccinated against Rabies but ask your vet for details well before you are planning to travel. More information can also be found on www.gov.uk/taking-your-pet-abroad
DANGERS IN YOUR GARDEN
I am sure your cat is enjoying the garden every bit as much as you are now that we have warmer weather but not everything growing there is safe ?
Most people are aware that Lillies can be very dangerous to cats but so can onions, grapes, foxgloves, tomatoes and hydrangeas. You can find a full list on www.gardenersworld.com/plants/plants-toxic-to-cats
Slug and pest free gardens are lovely, but less so if your cat finds the Metaldehyde slug pellets and eats them. There are safer alternatives now. If you need to use rat poison, then it is absolutely essential that you use proper pet proof boxes to put the poison in.
Always read the labels on weed and insect killers, and fertilisers, since many of these can be dangerous to your cat. The same applies to cleaning products used on patios and paving.
If you have a garden pond, then please make sure there is a shallow end where your cat can climb out. Even the most water averse cat has been known to chase a butterfly into the pond.
If you are having a BBQ please be aware that the meat used may well be delicious to you, but not the best for your cat. Undercooked and fatty foods such as sausages and burgers can cause a variety of problems for your cat (such as diarrhoea and vomiting). Sugar-free drinks are said to be poisonous to cats, and we know that chocolate is too. Some of your guests may be tempted to give your kitty a ‘treat’, so an early warning to them not to is a good idea – particularly if your cat is ‘food-orientated’. Of course the alternative is to put the cat inside whilst there is food outside.
The barbeque itself can be extremely dangerous. When it is first lit the smoke is toxic, and the fumes can kill if breathed in. When the barbeque is no longer in use make sure that it has cooled down and that no food is left where your cat can get to it. Tidy everything away before you go indoors. Remember it is not only your cat but your neighbours’ and stray cats that can be injured.
If you are using glassware outside then if any of it gets dropped and smashed then please clear it up immediately so that small paws don’t get cut, or shards of glass imbedded in the paws.
KEEPING YOUR CAT COOL
In the warmer summer months, we can sometimes forget that our cats do not all enjoy hot sunny days. That is why you need to consider ways to help your cat stay cool.
Cats with very pale or white ears and noses can easily get sun burnt. The areas with thin or no fur are equally prone to burning. Hence it is advisable to use sunscreen on these areas. There are pet specific screens available on the market. Do not use sunscreens designed for human use unless the label clearly states that it is suitable for cats! I often used to see cats coming to the surgery with a type of sun-induced skin cancer, usually on the tips of their ears and often the only way to treat it was to remove the affected areas.
Make sure that your cat can find somewhere shady to go and lie especially around noon. It goes without saying that they need to always have access to fresh water, but you need to check that the bowl is always full and has not dried out.
If you find your cat is lethargic, distressed or breathing quickly it may have sun stroke. If that is the case, then get it to your vet immediately.
Remember cats will actively seek out dark cool places to rest so if you have had any sheds or garages open then please check that your cat or indeed any other cat has not sought sanctuary there before you close up at night.
Finally, a more recent risk in the garden now is artificial grass. This is mainly a plastic product which can absorb and retain a lot of heat so if your cat walks across it in full sun then it is possible for the cat to burn its pads.
Eric McCarrison BVMS MRCVS
Trustee, Feline Friends (Derbyshire)