cat

Keep your cat cool this summer

picture of cat drinking from tap

In the wake of a mild winter, predictions are for a scorcher of a summer in Southern Australia, and our cats will need to manage the sometimes fierce bursts of high temperatures that are typical of Australian summers.  Here are some things to think about.

Water

Add a few extra water bowls around the house to make sure that kitty always has one close by.  Refresh them frequently with cool water. Take extra care to keep older cats well hydrated as their kidneys may have become less effective. Try adding a few ice cubes to a water bowl for a treat.  

Grooming

Keep on top of grooming as cats shed their winter coats. Some breeds will benefit from clipping so check with your vet.  Also, check with your cat.  Some individuals will dislike being clipped to the point of becoming badly distressed. Attempting a small clip of somewhere like their tummy will let you know.

Provide somewhere cool and shady

Cats with an outdoor run will need somewhere cool and out of the sun to spend the hottest hours of the day.  Allow for the movement of the sun as different areas become more or less shady.  If it’s a very hot day it might be better for them to stay in the house. If you do, make sure there is adequate ventilation. Some thoughtful owners leave on the aircon!  A box fan set to low is a more economical solution that a cat might enjoy.

Watch out for sunburn

Cats can get sunburn like us. Breeds with pale ears and pink noses are especially prone. Repeated exposure can lead to the development of cancers. If your cat likes to lay in the sun, there are cat-specific sunblocks to apply. Don’t be tempted to use human sun blocks – they are unsuitable and may even be toxic to your cat.

Prevent parasites

Parasites and the insects that carry them (such as mosquitoes) become more active and numerous especially in the Southern states during summer.  Keep up the preventives for fleas, ticks and heartworm.

Keep vaccinations up to date

Many of us like to take holidays during the summer months.  When boarding your cat, remember that individual catteries may have different vaccination requirements so plan in advance.

Watch out for heat stress

When it is especially hot, watch out for signs of distress in your cat.  Cats affected by heat stress appear distressed and restless.  They may vomit. They may drool excess amounts of saliva from their nose and or mouth or become unsteady on their feet and collapse. If this happens, remove the cat from the hot environment immediately.  Apply or spray a little cool (not cold) water and fan them gently to assist cooling.  Take your cat to your vet who will have a range of treatments to address the immediate and longer-term effects of heatstroke.

So… enjoy your summer and, with these few considerations, your cat will enjoy it with you.

Tooth resorption in cats

Tooth resorption is a very common and painful condition that affects an estimated 20-60 percent of cats – but can easily go unnoticed.

The cause is unknown, but seems to be that cells called osteoclasts that naturally eat up and remove baby teeth, persist long after they are needed in some cats.

There may be various levels of resorption in affected teeth, and the destruction can occur at varying speeds until it progresses to a point at which it must be addressed. The dentin in a single tooth (or several simultaneously) erodes and eventually becomes irreparably destroyed. Over time, all areas of an affected tooth, from root to crown, may become involved.

Within each of a cat’s teeth is a chamber (root canal) that contains tissue made up of blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and nerves. This tissue, which communicates with the rest of the animal’s body, is surrounded by a bony substance called dentin, which accounts for the bulk of the tooth’s structure.

In this condition, the dentin in a tooth, or several teeth, erodes and eventually becomes irreparably destroyed. Over time, all areas of an affected tooth, from root to crown, may become involved.

Detecting resorption

Dental pain in all animals is almost always hidden from view, so that they don’t appear vulnerable or weak. Sudden loss of appetite might occur if the crown were to break off from a single tooth. In that case, the cat could be off its food for a significant amount of time, 24 to 72 hours, say, but in general, the condition has to get to an extreme level before the cat stops eating.

One of the first signs would be that the cat starts swallowing its food without chewing it or that it suddenly develops a preference for soft food.

A cat may clearly indicate that it is experiencing excruciating pain when it bites down on an affected tooth or if the tooth is touched by a veterinarian’s probing fingers or examining tool. However, chronic toothaches are not among the condition’s most usual clinical signs.

A more reliable indicator is a cat’s behaviour while eating. The owner may notice that it’s appetite appears to be normal but that it tilts its head and tries to chew on just one side of its mouth. If it is eating kibble, it may try to swallow it without chewing, or the food may fall out of its mouth.

Diagnosis and treatment

The best way of confirming the suspected presence of the condition is with a trip to the vet who can usually diagnose the condition with a visual examination or sometimes an x-ray. A good precaution is to have your cat’s teeth examined annually.

Unfortunately complete extraction of all affected teeth is the only treatment. Drastic as this sounds, it should not cause major concern for the patient. Cats can cope very well with no teeth at all!

Four tips for a happy indoor cat

With more local governments imposing strict cat curfews and owners valuing the health and safety benefits of keeping cats indoors,  just how do you keep those contained kitties stimulated and happy?

1. Sensory buzz

Dust a large paper bag with catnip to create a mini paper paradise.  No catnip?  You will likely have basil, thyme, dill and cinnamon in your pantry which many cats love too.

2. Put them on a toy diet

Cats get bored too and even a favourite toy can become ho-hum if it’s always around.  Try putting that special toy away for a few days and notice the renewed interest when it emerges again.  In the meantime, a small bell rolled into a couple of old socks may make a happy substitute.

3. Food fun

Turn eating into an adventure. Cats love to explore a cardboard feeding ball filled with tasty treats.  An old cardboard egg container will make a ready-made puzzle for a curious cat.  You can create a scavenger hunt by placing strong-smelling treats in hard-to-get-to spots around the house.  Just don’t forget where you put them!

4. Sleeping high

Create new places for your cat to snooze.  Find safe and unused spots on shelves or high furniture and add some old toweling, jumpers or bedding to form a cosy, enclosed platform.

Our thanks to the folk at SafeCat where we picked up these hacks where they have many more ideas for keeping indoor kitties stimulated and happy.

The ‘wet’ brings a threat for northern cats

Keep cats dry in the ‘Wet’

The water and muddy conditions during the Northern Australian ‘wet’ brings an increased threat of a dangerous disease for cats.

Melioidosis (pronounced mel-ee-oi-doh-sis) is caused by bacteria that live in the soil and ground water. Cats are infected through cuts or scratches or by breathing in contaminated water droplets.

It can cause symptoms in like fever, loss of appetite or swollen lymph nodes. Sometimes infected animals will show few symptoms at all before becoming fatally ill.

Melioidosis is difficult to treat, requiring careful diagnosis and long course of antibiotics. It is often fatal.

Humans, livestock and other domestic animals in tropical regions commonly catch Melioidosis, too.

What can you do to protect your cat?

Fortunately, Melioidosis is rare in healthy cats.

Prevention is the best strategy:

  • Provide your cat with a place to live and sleep that is dry and away from soil.
  • Provide an ample supply of clean drinking water, water that is approved for human consumption.
  • Keep cats away from faeces and dead animals in the environment.
  • Keep cats in or close to home. Cats that live in a domestic environment are less likely to become infected than cats that roam widely.

As well as protecting your cat, take care to protect yourself. Melioidosis infects people too so protect your feet and hands when working in wet or muddy conditions. Take care when handling sick or deceased cats. Experts recommend commercial cremation where that is available.

As with other conditions, watch out for any changes in your cat’s habits or behaviour and, if you are concerned, contact your vet.


If you want to find out more, check out

Overview of Melioidosis  Jodie Low Choy, BVSc, BVMS, IVAS Cert, Menzies School of Health Research; University Avenue Veterinary Hospital, Northern Territory, Australia