Summertime can bring unique health issues to both indoor and outdoor cats, some of which include insect bites, encounters with animals, allergies, and accidents. As pet parents we want to keep our cats as healthy as possible, and it’s important to limit their exposure to harsh chemicals and drugs when treating these symptoms. Fortunately, there are several holistic medical alternatives for your cat.
“In general, you need to be careful with anything topical when dealing with cats because they are groomers. Also, not everything is 100 percent natural—check the ingredients,” explains Olivia Harris, DVM, who has a home-based veterinary care clinic, Creature Comforts, based in Glencoe.
Holistic Wound Treatments
For scratches and wounds, Tricia Stimac, DVM, CVA, CVSMT of LePar Animal Hospital in Evergreen Park suggests, “… to clip the hair away from the area of concern …[to] see how bad it is and allow air to get to the area. If it is full of hair you can harbor an infection in the area and prevent healing. I like disinfecting the wound with either povadone iodine (also called Betadine) or chlorahexaderm (also called Nolvasan) both diluted with water. Dilute concentrated Betadine with water to a light ice tea color (or Nolvasan with water to light blue color) and use the solution as a flush. Flush area one to two times a day until healed.”
For cats, Stimac also suggests simply keeping the wounded area clean because cats lick so much, but suggests the cat may still need an oral or injectable antibiotic depending upon its severity.
Insect bites are a common occurrence during summer months, but Harris heeds caution when treating them. “Cats tend to be very sensitive to aromatics, but Tea Tree Oil and Calendula Oil are excellent remedies with light scents. Tea Tree Oil repels insect bites and Calendula Oil reduces inflammation. Topicals with a coconut oil base or olive oil or Aloe Vera are safe to use on cats for skin irritations too.”
Warmer weather also brings other pests: fleas. “Keeping your cat indoors is the best flea prevention. A good diet which builds a stronger immune system [plus] using a flea comb once or twice a week also helps,” states Harris.
Stimac also suggests weekly to bi-weekly baths to remove allergens, keeping the skin free from infection. But since cats don’t appreciate baths, she suggests foot soaks or body wipe downs. “[Use] the Betadine or Nolvasan. Place your cat’s feet in the foot bath for one to five minutes, remembering to irrigate in between their toes. When finished, pat dry their feet; no need to rinse off. You can also use this mixture and apply to the skin with a wash cloth for body wipe down/baths.”
Other Warm Weather Health Concerns
Chemicals have become a common occurrence in on our everyday lives, especially on our lawns. Stimac recommends giving one-half capful daily of Milk Thistle for one week after each heartworm pill to help cats detoxify from the flea/tick medication and lawn and environmental chemicals.
To holistically treat fleas Stimac also suggests Diatomaceous Earth, “a natural powder which causes fatal dehydration to fleas and is one hundred percent safe if ingested or encountered by mammals, but are fatal for all insects. This can be [sprinkled on] the yard, your carpet or your pet’s living areas.”
These are just a few suggested holistic treatments for common summertime ailments that your cat may face. As with conventional medicine, monitor the amount of medication given to your cat and if you do not see any improvement within a few days take your cat to your veterinarian.
Lara Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in the Chicago area. She writes articles on the environment, animal issues, local interests, health care, aviation, and other subjects. Visit her website at lrjwriteedit.wordpress.com or her “green blog” at laraj71.wordpress.com.