A Cat’s Summer Survival Guide

Alicia Bailey

Summer seems to always go to the dogs … they swim, wear sunglasses, eat pupsicles … but what about the cats? We’ve put together a summer survival guide that any finicky feline is sure to find begrudgingly delightful.

THREE RULES TO KEEP YOUR CAT COOL

1. Always have fresh water available for your feline.

2. If your feline is allowed to go outside, make sure they have access to clean outdoor water, shady areas, and a secure enclosure to keep them safe.

3. Never leave your cat in a vehicle, home, office, or kennel that is not air-conditioned—summer heat can cause heatstroke and, even worse, death.

THE COOL CAT’S SUMMER TREAT MENU

Don’t forget to “paws and treat” this summer! Here are some cool treats that cats love.

Cat Ice Cream by PetWinery: petwinery.com

Ice (literally, how much easier could this be)?

Frozen Cat food—yep, it’s a thing. Throw your cat’s wet food in the freezer or make it cute and divide it up in an ice tray, and you’ll always have a cool treat on hand.

Churu Pops: inabafoods.com

Nulo Medalseries Perfect Purées: nulo.com

5 Things Your Cat Wants to Learn (and show off on the ‘Gram)

1 WALK ON A LEASH AND HARNESS: Introduce your cat to leash walking with a comfortable cat harness. Take short walks around the house and give treats while your cat is on the leash. Eventually, move to small sessions outdoors. Learn more about training your cat to walk on a leash here: https://anticruelty.org/pet-library/leash-training-your-cat

2 SIT: Use treats to lure your cat into a seated position while using the command “Sit.” Give a reward once seated.

3 HIGH-FIVE: Using a clicker is helpful in this trick. First, show your cat the treat and make sure it’s close enough for them to touch it. Then, keeping it out of reach, wait for your cat to hit your hand with their paw. CLICK the clicker, give the treat, and repeat. Here’s a video showing you how to master the high-five: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7-__FBVfpU

4 FETCH: Select a high-value toy and have plenty of treats on hand for this one. Start by tossing the toy and telling your cat to “Fetch.” Show them the treat. When they pick up their toy and bring it to you, reward them with the treat. Check out this link for tips: https://www.petmd.com/cat/behavior/how-teach-catfetch

5 ALLEY-OOP: Train your cat to jump up into your arms or onto your shoulder. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcmN-6F4AqqI&t=2s

Summer Scrolling

Deepen Your Knowledge: If staying cool means a lot more surfing the web, then make those minutes meaningful and deepen your knowledge around issues you care about (or should care about). For example, did you know that the top three reasons people ask their veterinarian about declaw surgery are these?

■ Furniture is getting damaged

■ Kids are getting scratched

■ Multiple animals in the household are not getting along

Did you know that removing the claws from a cat’s paws is the equivalent of amputating the tips of your fingers? Declawing is still happening in veterinarian offices across the country, but progress is being made to stop this harmful and cruel procedure. One organization leading the way on this issue is The Paw Project, a non-profit organization founded by a veterinarian to debunk the myths and uncover the cruelty of declawing cats.

You can find them online at www.pawproject.org to learn more about the dangers of declawing; crueltyfree solutions; what states, including California, are taking action on behalf of cats; and how you can get involved.

Safety First: 5 Common Household Dangers For Your Cat to Avoid

■ Toxic Plants: Keep your cat away from lilies, birds of paradise, eucalyptus and many other poisonous plants. A full list from the ASPCA can be found here.: aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/cats-plant-list

■ Candles: Swap out your wax candles for the LED variety in case your cat gives it the paw. You don’t want your cat to get burned or for that wax candle to ignite once it hits the floor.

■ Chocolate & Sugar-Free Candy: Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which is a proven toxin for cats. Sugar-free sweeteners, including xylitol, are equally dangerous. Symptoms of ingestions could present as diarrhea, vomiting, restlessness, hyperactivity, excessive thirst, increased heart rate, and rapid breathing.

■ Alcohol: Even in small amounts, alcohol is poisonous to cats and can cause trouble breathing, seizures, and vomiting, among other serious side effects.

■ Twine, ribbons, wrapping paper: While these might seem like harmless items that your cat enjoys playing with, these items pose a choking hazard. It’s best to keep them out of reach.

If your cat ingests any of these toxins or you suspect they have ingested something potentially harmful, seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Scratchy Solutions

If your cat is scratching the furniture or other items in your home, two popular solutions are nail caps and furniture barriers. Other home safety ideas include tying up blind cords, investing in LED candles, and making a commitment to provide your cat with plenty of enrichment activities. Here are just a few of our favorite solutions that will help you create a cat-positive environment:

■ Nail caps

■ Furniture barriers

■ Replace wax candles with LED candles.

■ Tie up window blind, computer, and electrical cords so they are out of reach.

■ Be sure to keep your cat busy and active with toys, puzzles, adequate exercise, and training beyond the litter box.

■ Build or invest in an indoor/outdoor cattery enclosure.

■ Teach your family how to respect the cat’s space, boundaries, and play cues. This is especially important for curious children and guests unfamiliar with the ways of the fancy feline.

WATCH & LEARN FROM A COOL CAT ON INSTAGRAM

If you’re not following Nala Cat on Instagram, you need to. Not only is she the cutest dang cat you’ll ever see, but she holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for “Most Instagram Followers by a Cat.” Even better, her humans are superb at creating cat enrichment challenges for Nala and her cat and dog siblings. Tune into their IG feed, reels, and stories to watch them play and be sure to try their cat challenges at home. instagram.com/nala_cat

5 WAYS TO HELP CATS THIS SUMMER

Summertime poses unique challenges to animals and rescue groups, including a lack of resources and volunteers. Whether you are ready to get out and about or prefer to stay in, there are plenty of things you can do to support your local animal welfare organizations. Here are a few ideas:

1. Foster a cat: Whether it’s a kitten, a litter of kittens, a bonded pair, or a senior cat, opening your home to homeless animals is one of the best things you can do to help save lives and support your local animal welfare organization. Foster situations can be tailored to your lifestyle, just be up front about what you can and cannot do when you apply to foster a cat. For example, fostering can be a short- or long-term commitment, and most organizations cover all expenses, including food and vet care—you just provide the love and nurturing.

2. Spay and neuter your cat(s): This one is easy—just do it. By spaying/neutering your companion cat, you’re doing your part to stop the flow of unwanted litters and homeless cats into shelters.

3. Adopt an adult cat: The truth is, kittens usually get adopted pretty easily, but the mama cats, adult cats, senior cats, and cats requiring special care tend to wait the longest for their forever family to come along. If you’re considering adopting a cat this summer, take the time to meet the grown-ups.

4. Become a Cat Cuddler: If you want to cuddle cats all day, you can! Shelters and animal rescues need volunteers to interact, play, and yes, cuddle the cats who are waiting to be adopted. By giving homeless cats the love and attention they need, you’re helping them become more adoptable.

5. Donate Supplies: Most animal welfare organizations make it super easy to donate much-needed supplies, toys, and cat food by having an Amazon Wishlist. This is by far one of the easiest way to support your favorite organization, and you don’t even have to leave the house!

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