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The sun is shining

18 May 2018
The sun is shining

The sun is shining and it’s important to keep your cat comfortable and as cool as possible during these hot days. Below are a few handy tips which will help

Try keeping kitty in during the hottest part of the day which is between 11am and 4pm or make sure there are plenty of areas in your garden where they can seek shade. Exposure to the sun can be a trigger factor for a type of cancer that is more commonly seen in cats with unpigmented white ears or noses so it is certainly a good idea to try to offer some protection. There are sunblocks available that have been manufactured specifically for use on animals, some of which are designed to be lick proof. Your vet should be able to recommend one or source one for you. It is very important that it is suitable for cats as they can be more sensitive than other animals to the chemicals included. Please check with your vet before using anything intended for human use on your cat.

Make sure fresh water is available at all times. If you can, provide a few places where they can access the water and make sure it doesn’t get hot as this may prevent them from drinking it. Cats prefer not to put their heads over the top of or in the bowl so keep the water topped up at all times. Try offering a water fountain as cats favour moving water. Cats need to be able to access their water without having to pass objects that they perceive to be frightening, such as other felines, so ensure the water bowl is sited in a location acceptable to the cat.

When arranging your cat-friendly garden, be aware of potentially poisonous plants. Lilies are particularly dangerous and can cause kidney failure if eaten or even if the cat grooms after contact with the pollen. Common symptoms of poisoning are: collapse, repeated vomiting, severe diarrhoea or excessive irritation of the mouth or throat – red, sore or blistered. If you see the cat eat something you think may be poisonous take a sample of the plant, or preferably the label, to the vet with the cat, as this will help the vet find the appropriate antidote. Make a note of the time of eating and any symptoms – there can be a delay of several days.

Cats may react to certain plants by developing rashes or a hypersensitivity to sunlight resulting in sunburn. They can also cause blistering of the mouth or gums which may be confused with gingivitis. The other symptoms are sneezing and eye problems. Plants such as tomato, strawberry, rhubarb, parsnip, carrot, celery, marrow and cucumber all have the potential to affect the cat in this way. Common plants to avoid, as well as lilies, are lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), monkshood (Aconitum), spurge (Euphorbia) and foxglove (Digitalis). Garden Centres usually label plants that are harmful to humans and, as a rule, these will also be harmful to animals. Your cat is less likely to chew on dangerous plants if he has a good supply of yummy cocksfoot grass (Dactylis glomerata) in the garden. Cats love this delicious grass and it can help as a natural medicine for relieving bile and sourness by inducing the bringing up of hair balls. It is really easy to grow and you can ensure a regular supply of grass is available for your cat by sowing a fresh pot or box every week or 10 days.

Catnip is another garden treat that you could try introducing to your garden. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) contains aromatic oils which act as a mild hallucinogen which makes some cats start to rub, sniff, lick and eat the plant. Cats can often be seen pulling the gums back from the teeth, creating a cat ‘smile’. The reason they do this is to concentrate the smell so that they can taste the catnip too. Catnip causes behavioural changes, with some people describing their cat as being ‘intoxicated’ or having a ‘wild’ or ‘drunken’ appearance. Basically, cats appear to be having a wonderful time! Effects of this nature will usually last a few minutes and then wear off, not being recreated for at least an hour if the cat returns to the catnip. Catnip can be easily grown in the garden or bought as a dry herb from pet shops. Being part of the mint family, it can be an invasive plant, so it is recommended to confine the plant to a pot rather than directly in the ground.

Pop the potted plant under the shade of a tree or man-made cover to give your cat a little sanctuary to enjoy himself in the shade.

Following these tips will hopefully ensure that kitty and family have a fabulous summer and enjoy all the hot and sunny (we can dream) weather to come.