While summer is often a fun time for us, it can pose some increased
risks for our pets, including our cats. A little knowledge and
prevention can help ensure your summer is enjoyable for everyone in
your family, including your pets.
Heatstroke is a very common and deadly problem for our pets. Cats are
more sensible about regulating their body temperature when it is hot
outside than dogs, but underlying medical conditions such as heart
disease, which may not be apparent in normal circumstances, can be
exascerbated by heat and result in obvious symptoms of distress such as
open mouth breathing. A regular exam by your vet each year can help
detect such problems early. Never leave your pet unattended in a car
on hot summer days because the temperature rises quickly to levels that
can be fatal. Even more temperate weather (70 degrees) can become
dangerous in enclosed cars in very short periods of time. If you
suspect your cat is having difficulty with heatstroke, use cool, not
cold, water to help lower the body temperature and seek veterinary care
There are many summer activities such as gardening that also pose
increased risks to pets. Fertilizers and insecticides may contain
ingredients that can be deadly if ingested. Many foods grown in
gardens such as tomato plants can also pose risks if ingested. Plants
such as lilies cause kidney failure if ingested, even in small amounts.
For a complete list of common toxic plants and foods, visit the ASPCA
Many people travel more in the summer to visit friends and family.
Always be careful that your pet cannot escape and get lost during
travel. Having a microchip implanted can also help ensure if you do
become separated from your pet that you will be more likely to be
reunited since most shelters and vet offices scan all stray animals
they encounter to determine if the owner can be located.
Cats that are allowed to roam outside have increased risks for injury
including fights with other animals and getting hit by vehicles. In
the summer, more animals are out roaming and the likelihood of a
danerous encounter is also higher. If your cat does go outside, make
sure it is up to date on all recommended vaccines, including the rabies
vaccine and feline leukemia vaccine to help reduce the risk of deadly
White cats and cats that have been groomed/shaved are at an increased
risk of sunburn. Even indoor cats that spend time near windows
sleeping in the sun are at risk. Besides being uncomfortable,
increased exposure to the UV rays may also pose a greater risk of
certain types of skin cancer developing in these cats. The ears and
nose are common areas for potential problems. Always monitor these
areas for any changes in the skin’s appearance, including changes in
pigment color and appearance. Sunscreen for human babies is safe for
daily use on cats and may be used in lotion or spray form. The
waterproof varieties tend to be more resistant to grooming.
Keeping these potential risks in mind can help prevent common but
dangerous health problems in your cats so that everyone can have a safe
and enjoyable summer.