Six autumn hazards for cats: how to keep your cat safe
Falling leaves, cosy jumpers and sunny frosty mornings typically mean autumn is arriving. Autumn brings a new set of hazards for cat owners, especially when the clocks go back. So, whether you are queuing for your pumpkin spice, snuggling up inside or simply enjoying the fresh air, our Joii nurses have got you covered. Learn how to keep your cat safe, happy and healthy as the nights draw in.
1. Car concerns and traffic accidents
As the evenings get darker earlier, your cat may be spending more time outside in poor light. Be mindful, as at this time of year there is an increase in the number of cats that suffer road traffic accidents.
There are a few ways you can keep your cat safe and reduce their chances of being involved in a road traffic accident during the shorter daylight hours:
- Set a curfew: Call your cat in for dinner early in the evening and keep your cat in at night time and early morning if possible. This helps them avoid rush hour traffic and poor light that may make them difficult to see.
- Be safe, be seen: If your cat wears a collar, consider changing to a reflective quick release collar to help them stand out in the dark.
- Consider neutering (if not already): Neutering your cat can help, especially for male cats. Unneutered cats have a higher rate of being involved in traffic accidents as they get into fights with other cats and roam further from home to find a mate.
It’s not only moving traffic that poses a danger. Every year trauma cases arise where a cat has squeezed themselves into a warm spot to sleep, such as under a car bonnet or between car tyres. Before heading out in the morning - have a quick tap on the bonnet and a check around for any snoozing felines before starting up the engine.
2. Fleas and ticks
Cats are at risk of fleas and worms all year round, however during the colder months we often see a spike in the presence of pesky parasites. Prey animals such as squirrels, rats and mice are more active during autumn months, busying themselves in preparation for the winter. This means your cat's hunting behaviours tend to increase, as does your cat's risk of bringing home the unwanted hitchhikers.
Secondly, we often crank up the central heating during the colder months, meaning any dormant flea eggs and larvae around the home will awake to restart their life cycle.
It’s easy to prevent flea and worm infestations. Simply stay up to date with a regular vet approved flea and worm treatment, ensure all pets in the home are treated, and if you do have an infestation on your hands be sure to seek vet advice and treat the home too.
3. Rat poison
With hunting increasing and more active prey, there is a higher chance of cats being exposed to rodent poison during the autumn.
Symptoms can take 3 to 7 days to appear which sadly means sudden death can occur before symptoms are even seen. Symptoms include:
- Bleeding, bruising or very pale gums.
- Swollen tummy which can indicate bleeding
- Changes or difficulties breathing, coughing, wheezing
- Lethargy and weakness
- Wobbly when walking
- Loss of appetite
To prevent accidental poisoning, do not use rodent poison around your home, garden, sheds or garages. Instead consider humane catch and release traps or calling in pest control. If you think your cat has been exposed to any rodent poison or has ingested a poisoned rodent, contact a vet straight away.
Nobody likes cold fingers when scraping their car windows, so we start to reach for the antifreeze. Antifreeze and screen washes containing the compound ‘ethylene glycol’ are extremely toxic to cats. Even the smallest amount of antifreeze can cause fatal kidney failure, however unfortunately the smell and taste can attract some cats.
Cats can be poisoned by:
- Directly ingesting the liquid
- Grooming it off their fur or paws
- Drinking puddles that have had spillages leak into them
You can prevent this happening by:
- Storing antifreeze bottles upright in secure labelled containers
- Avoiding any accidental spillages or cleaning these up right away
- Keeping all antifreeze products well away from areas your cat or other cats may have access to
- Select newer antifreeze without ethylene glycol
If you are concerned your cat may have been exposed to antifreeze toxins, you should contact a vet right away.
5. Weight gain
Cats can start to pile on the extra pounds when spending longer inside. Prevent unhealthy weight gain by making sure your cat is on good quality cat food and is being fed the correct amount. Weighing out dry food is always recommended to prevent over and under feeding. Limit treats and snacks, and reduce meal portions accordingly when any are given.
Keeping your cat in for longer periods of time will mean you need to pay extra attention to their needs. Each cat will need 1-2 litter trays in a quiet location. Keep the tray away from white goods, food bowls or water bowls.
Scratch posts help cats to exhibit their natural instincts and help them burn energy by climbing and jumping. Making time to play with your cat is really important - the best time is before meals. Note that toys like laser pens can increase frustration. If a laser pen is used make sure your cat has a toy to pounce on and catch afterwards.
Need more advice for your cat?
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