While you and your cat are both sure to welcome some warmer weather (and naps in the sun!), this time of year can bring added safety and health concerns. We’ve rounded up the facts, and asked Petplan vet Brian Faulkner to share his tips for keeping your pet safe and well this season.
While cats thrive as both indoor and outdoor pets, exploring outside can have benefits for your pet’s mental and physical fitness. However, heading outdoors more during spring is not without its risks: 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. Having your pet microchipped 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. Head to check-a-chip.co.uk to find out which database holds your information and how you can verify your details.
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 contagious diseases, such as cat flu and feline leukaemia virus, spreading. 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.
Prevent pesky parasites
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.
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.
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. Outdoor plants such as rhododendrons, daffodils and azaleas and indoor ones such as lilies, are highly toxic to pets and can cause especially adverse reactions in older cats. If you’re in doubt, head to icatcare.org/advice/poisonous-plants for a comprehensive list of what to avoid planting. Also keep in mind that lawn fertilisers, insecticides and herbicides 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.