Summer is a great time of year – long evenings, warm sunshine, holidays, garden parties and kids at home. But what about your cat? How can you help them cope with the changes that summer brings?
Cats are not fans of change; they like routine and can become stressed if things are altered around their home, or the usual order of things is disrupted – such as by summer holidays!
Longer daylight hours
Humans, of course, have clocks to tell the time. But our feline friends don't have that benefit!
So when routines change, especially around Daylight Savings Time switches, humans know to rise earlier, go to work earlier and change mealtimes. But that can be very confusing for cats – in effect, their routine has changed!
You can take several steps to help your cat adjust.
- Before the clocks change, start to feed them a few minutes earlier every day until you are closer to the summer times.
- Alternatively, gradually change your pets routine by moving their feeding time back by an hour. So, if your cat is normally fed at 5.00 pm (according to your clock) feed them at 6.00 pm. It will still be 5.00 pm for your cat when the time changes!
- You can also adjust the rest of their routine the same way. For example, you might start to adjust your playtime or grooming session together, to prevent a sudden shift of all activities.
- Some people find an automatic feeder useful – these can be timed to feed your cat at specific times of the day, so can be adjusted to reflect a change in routine slowly.
- Don’t forget that cats are crepuscular, so you may find that they wake you up earlier because of the lighter mornings!
- Try introducing your cat to a puzzle feeder. This can be filled before bed and be available for the cat when they wake up – remember to put it somewhere accessible for your cat, but far enough away so that it does not disturb you from your summer slumbers.
If your cat is used to a quiet house when your kids are at school, they may wonder what’s happening when summer holidays begin! Kids will be making more noise and be around during the day. Plus any playdates will mean new guests in the house which might disrupt your cat’s normal space.
Help your cat cope with a busier household by providing them with plenty of safe places to retreat to. FELIWAY Optimum placed in the room where your cat will spend time will help them adjust and feel calm and serene. It will also help to make sure any children or visitors know that your cat should be left alone when they retreat to their quiet spot. They’ll come and say hello when they are ready!
Plan ahead if you are going to be away on a family holiday. Make sure your cat’s needs are catered for while you are away.
- If you are going away for a weekend break, your cat may well be able to cope for a night or two on their own, as long as they have enough resources. Make sure your home is safe (e.g. they can’t get locked into a room by mistake, or they can’t get tangled up in loose wires etc.) and you have arranged for a neighbour to check in on them.
- If you are going away for a longer period of time, you should take into consideration your cat’s age and plan accordingly. You may need help of a cat sitter, or a friendly neighbour who can check in daily to and spend some time with your cat. Or you may consider a cattery stay.
Summer routine for indoor cats
It’s tempting to open all doors and windows during the summer months to allow fresh air through your home. However, if you have an indoor cat, you should take care to keep them safe:
- Cover open windows with a mesh curtain that will allow fresh air in but stop your cat from escaping.
- If it is not practical to screen all doors and windows, put your cat into a safe room with the door closed; you can screen off a window which will still allow fresh air in for your cat.
- Make sure your cat is microchipped in case they do manage to escape.
- Consider building a catio outside so that your cat will get the best of both worlds.
- If you are mowing your lawn, remember that sudden noises can spook your cat, so make sure that they are in a safe place away from the noise.
- Keep your cat as cool as possible. Cats will usually find a cool corner to escape to, but you can help by making some frozen treats for them, letting them play with ice cubes.
- To prevent overheating through play, move kitty playtimes into the evenings when it will be cooler.
- Importantly, make sure your cat always has access to plenty of water. Although cats don’t like to get wet, they do like drinking from running water so a water fountain may be an engaging way to keep them hydrated.
Summer routine for cats with outdoor access
Does your cat like to spend some time outside? If so, they will often find cool places to retreat to. Favourite spots could be under a bush in the shade, high on a fence where they watch what is going on around them, or a comfy garden chair! Help them stay cool on hot days by providing shade they can use, tempt them with frozen treats, and again make sure they have plenty of water to drink.
In the summer it’s important to keep your cat away from spaces like greenhouses, sheds, garages – and even parked cars – where temperatures can rise rapidly. If you have not seen your cat for a while, always check these areas in case they have climbed in without you being aware.
Watch out for signs that your cat is over-heating. These could include a red tongue and mouth, lethargy, breathing rapidly, stumbling around or vomiting. Take your cat into a cool area and encourage them to drink water, but always consult a vet.
With your help, your cat can enjoy a safe, sunny summer!