In Brief

Feline Hazards Heat Up in Summer

Tips from Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine for keeping your cat safe and happy
illustration of a cat at a window
Make sure that all upper-story windows in your home are properly screened—and double-check that the screens are tightly fitted and closed. Illustration: Ward Schumaker
June 7, 2016

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Keeping your kitty out of mischief is a daily duty, but owners have to be extra vigilant during the summer, when threats to your cat’s well-being generally rise with the temperature, says Michael Stone, a veterinarian who specializes in small animal care at Cummings School. He points out a few of the hazards and offers up some remedies.

Accidental poisonings. Fleas and ticks are abundant in the warmer months, and cats can get very ill when they’re exposed to anti-tick and anti-flea products developed specifically for dogs. Cat owners should talk with their veterinarian about the safest preventive measures, especially if there are other animals in the home. Never apply a product that isn’t labeled safe for cats.

Antifreeze, a sweet-smelling liquid that’s very attractive to cats, tends to leak out of overheated automobiles during hot weather and puddle on driveways and garage floors. If your cat laps up ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in many automobile antifreezes, it can cause serious damage to the kidneys, and if untreated, lead to kidney failure within 24 hours. Protect your cat by cleaning up spills immediately and fixing coolant leaks in your car right away.

Falls. A cat can sustain serious injury or be killed by leaping or accidentally tumbling from an open window or balcony. Make sure that all upper-story windows in your home are properly screened—and double-check that the screens are tightly fitted and closed.

Encounters with other animals and cars. Of all the warm-weather threats to cats, none is more potentially fatal than being hit by a car. And bite injuries sustained in fights with other animals are a portal through which bacteria can enter and then multiply and cause a serious infection. Fatal diseases, such as feline leukemia, can also be contracted through bite wounds. So play it safe, and keep your cat indoors at all times.

Adapted with permission from Catnip: The Newsletter for Caring Cat Owners, published by Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. For subscription information, visit tuftscatnip.com or call 1-800-829-0926.