While you and your cat are both sure to welcome some warmer weather (and naps in the sun), this season can bring added safety and health concerns. Here are some top tips for keeping your pet safe and well.
1. Boosters for health
At this time of year, your cat is likely to come into contact with other felines who are also exploring the neighbourhood, increasing the chance of her catching a contagious disease, such as cat flu or feline leukaemia virus.
And even if your pet mostly stays indoors, she can still be at risk from viruses transmitted via your hands or clothes from other cats you could come into contact with. For a healthy and happier spring, play it safe and be sure your pet’s vaccination boosters are up to date.
2. Prevent pesky parasites and insects
Spring isn’t the only thing to have sprung: so have fleas and ticks! These parasites emerge during warmer weather and, as your pet will be venturing outdoors more and more, she’ll be at a higher risk of encountering them – especially in long grass.
While both fleas and ticks can cause severe itching and discomfort, ticks can also spread conditions such as Lyme disease (a bacterial infection that can result in lameness, lethargy and kidney problems). Spot-on treatments are a good way to keep your cat protected all year round. Speak to your vet to find the best products for your pet.
Another factor to consider are cats and insects. Cats often enjoy chasing after wasps and bees, and can be stung in the process.
In most cases, these are not emergencies, but if your cat is stung near the mouth or neck, then you may need to contact your vet. Cats, like humans, can be allergic to stings. If this is the case, you may notice swellings, distress and breathing difficulties.
If the sting is not too serious, you can treat it yourself. With a bee sting, remove the sting if it’s still in place and clean the area with a little bicarbonate of soda. For a wasp sting, gently clean the area with lemon juice or malt vinegar.
3. DIY safety
The new season is the ideal time for a spot of spring-cleaning or home improvement, but take care as cleaning agents, glues, paints and wood treatments contain substances that could be toxic to your cat. Keep all bottles and tins out of reach or locked away for safety. And be sure to keep your cat away from treated areas to prevent gastrointestinal or pancreatic problems.
4. Microchipping matters
While cats thrive as both indoor and outdoor pets, exploring outside can have benefits for your pet’s mental and physical fitness. Heading outdoors more during spring is not without its risks, however: your cat could encounter other animals or traffic, or even wander too far. This doesn’t mean you should automatically change an outdoor cat’s habits, though.
Ensuring your pet is microchipped when you get her will keep her safe while still allowing her to enjoy those adventures. And, that way, if the unthinkable does happen and your cat is found injured or lost, you can be notified straight away.
Just remember to keep your contact details up to date with your microchip database. Head to check-a-chip.co.uk to find out which database holds your information and how you can verify your details.
5. Going green
With gardening in full swing at this time of year, it’s worth paying special attention to poisonous plants that are accessible to your cat. Be aware of the following plants, which are highly toxic to pets and can cause especially adverse reactions in older cats:
While it’s impossible to know where your cat is at all times, ensuring your garden is free from these plants will limit their exposure to potentially harmful flora. If you’re in doubt, head to International Cat Care for a comprehensive list of what to avoid planting.
Also keep in mind that lawn fertilisers, insecticides, herbicides and snail and slug pellets could contain ingredients that are dangerous if your cat ingests them. Store these products out of reach, and try to opt for ‘green’ or pet-friendly versions wherever possible.
If you notice any of the following signs of poisoning, contact your vet immediately:
Other spring hazards to be aware of this season include cat allergies to plants, grass and pollens – the symptoms can often be very similar to ours. Plus, it’s good to be mindful of Easter treats such as chocolate and hot cross buns, which can be poisonous to cats.