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How to care for your cat’s health in summer

When summer rolls around, so too do the need to pay particular attention to your cat’s health. Here at Wahroonga’s Fox Valley Animal Hospital, we do what we can to ensure your cat stays in perfect feline health all year round.

We show you how to care for your cat’s health in summer

Summer heat and your cat

Cats love a good sunbaking session. That doesn’t mean they don’t need monitoring and assistance on hot days though! You cat can be susceptible to heat stroke. In this case, prevention is always the best cure.

discussing cats health with cat peeking from a tree

Photo by Koen Eijkelenboom via Unsplash

To help your cat cope with extra hot days-

  • Make sure fresh water for drinking is available at all times and use metal bowls over plastic as the taste is more appealing to your cat’s tastebuds
  • Consider giving your cat a cooling pat session with a wet towel or sponge to reduce their temperature
  • If your cat is fine with water, making water available for paddling and lying in can also help
  • Keep your cat indoors on days where the temperature is high and/or hot winds are blowing
  • Provide cool places your cat can rest and relax in the garden and in the house
  • Ice in the water bowl can also help cool things down, as can gentle ice packs – just make sure these activities are monitored to ensure they are not deterring your cat from drinking or resting. Or put your cat at risk of hypothermia by over-use
  • Close curtains and window coverings to reduce the amount of heat in a locked-up house
  • Reconsider time spent away from the home if your house is not particularly cool and/or is prone to heating up during hot days
  • Make use of fans and air-conditioners to circulate cool air in the house

It’s also a good idea to keep a close eye on your cat and look for signs of feline heatstroke. The sorts of things you should be looking for include:

  • A restless cat that cannot seem to get comfortable
  • Excessive cleaning and grooming in an attempt to cool down
  • Rapid and excessive panting
  • A bright red tongue and gums
  • Unusually pale gums
  • Muscle weakness and tremors
  • Thick saliva and drooling
  • Dizziness, unusual movements and lethargy
  • Anxious, restless behaviour

Kittens, short-nosed breeds and obese cats are particularly prone to heatstroke. If you see heatstroke signs in your cat, please bring them to our vet clinic immediately for attention.

Skin cancers and cats

The harsh Australian sun isn’t only dangerous to people. It can lead to skin cancer and melanoma in cats and dogs as well. Like humans, fairer pets can be at greater risk. Your white cats, blonde furred pets and ginger varieties are at higher risk. Yet, they can afflict any kind of cat or dog and should be taken seriously.

Melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma are seen in both humans and cats. The latter is uncommon, but melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma can be quite common in cats and dogs. Skin cancer can be treated, as long as it is caught early and successfully identified by a vet. Lucky for Fox Valley Animal Hospital patients, Dr Katie is particularly well-versed in animal skin health and makes checking part of her regular pet health regimes.

What to look out for with cat skin cancer-

  • Encourage white, ginger and pale cats (and dogs) to be sun safe by providing shaded areas. Sun baking is generally not ideal when you have fair fur
  • Get any changes to the skin of your cat checked. If you find freckles, lumps, fatty deposits, scabs, changes to skin texture or colour on your feline friend, it’s always better to have this checked instead of waiting for more changes
  • Eliminate the possibilities. Ginger cats can sometimes develop discolouration on the lip or face. This can be the simplex lentigo, a type of pigmentation found in ginger cats. But it’s always safer to check this kind of change rather than assume
  • Keep a close eye on your cat’s ears, nose and face. Skin cancer is particularly common in these areas. At the first sign of change, bring them to our Wahroonga vets for a check up
  • Ask about sun screen options for your cat. There are products that can be applied directly to your cat as well as approved sun protection garments and shades. Our friendly vet nurses can help you find what you need

Preventing feline skin cancer is your best bet. Treating it can involve a vaccination, medication, surgery and treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. Like any cancer, the quicker you notice the symptoms and seek treatment, the better chance you have.

Changes in your cat’s diet

During summer time, you may notice a decrease or change in your cat’s diet. This is due to changes in your cat’s habits and metabolism. It’s estimated they can eat up to 15% less food than in the colder months.

Try feeding your cat less food, especially if they are leaving it in the bowl. It may simply mean they are needing less food in summer.

Cats can be sensitive about changes to their food. Dry food can dry out in hot winds. Wet food can spoil quicker. Both can attract bugs and become unappealing to your cat. This may mean that providing smaller portions throughout the day as opposed to larger main feeding times could be more useful during summer.

Increasing your cat’s ability to stay hydrated is helpful during summer and this too can influence the kinds of food your cat should eat. Wet food can aid with keeping your cat hydrated for example, so supplementing a dry food diet with more wet food can help. Access to fresh water at meal times is also important.

Make sure you spot the difference between your cat’s health changes and summer eating patterns by:

  • Ensuring your cat’s weight remains stable
  • Looking for signs of sporadic eating patterns
  • Monitoring your cat’s water intake
  • Checking the coat for any signs of ill-health
  • Keeping an eye on toileting habits to make sure there are no changes

If you need guidance on your cat’s summer diet or you are looking for veterinary approved food, drop in to our Wahroonga vet clinic and let the vet nurses help you out. We have a great range of cat foods at the clinic.

Flea and tick control

Your cat may be adept at finding the cool, shady places to rest in the garden, but these are also popular places for fleas to hang out. Summer in general sees an increase of both flea and tick activity. We’ve seen a lot of damage done to skin and cats lives placed at risk by ticks all year round due to the changing makeup of the seasons. We don’t expect that to change during summer, either.

Wet days followed by baking hot days create humid conditions that encourage fleas to breed and ticks to become active. That’s why it’s important to have a strong, reliable flea and tick prevention regime all year around.

Please don’t risk your cat to unnecessary exposure to fleas and ticks. Come into our veterinary surgery at Wahroonga and talk to our helpful vet nursing staff about what is the right feline flea and tick prevention for your cat.

Keeping your cat’s health in tip-top shape this summer

Maintaining your cat’s health this summer (and all year round) is our priority. We’re always available for advice on the phone and in person at Fox Valley Animal Hospital.

Whether it’s been a while between check-ups or you have a specific question, get in touch with us. Our friendly team of vets and vet nurses are here to help.

Contact us to discuss your cat’s health this summer on (02) 9489 4805 now.

 

 

 

 

About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.