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Summer Safety for Outdoor Cats

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Whether they live outdoors or just like to spend time in the backyard, use these tips to keep cats cool in the summertime.

Food

  • When feeding cats outdoors, don’t leave food out for too long. After about 30 minutes, it will attract bugs.
  • Feed cats dry food in the summer—it attracts less insects.
  • Invest in “ant-proof bowls” designed specifically for feeding cats outdoors. Some have moats of water or other complications that make it hard for the ants to get to the food.
  • Create your own “ant barrier” by surrounding a cat’s food bowl with a line of food-grade diatomaceous earth without chemical additives (available at most natural food stores and pet supply companies).

Water

  • Cats can dehydrate quickly, so when it’s warm out, extra sources of water are helpful.
  • Dropping a few ice cubes into a water bowl can keep the water cool (if the cats are not bothered by the ice!).
  • Pet water fountains give a constant stream of water, inspiring cats to drink even more.
  • Keep water bowls out of the sun, saving water from quickly evaporating in the summer heat.
  • Find a shaded area for water bowls to keep the water from evaporating too fast. Use a narrow, deep bowl, as opposed to a wider, shallower one.

Shelter

  • Cats excel at finding places to escape the sun, but be sure to provide easy access to shaded places—like under a deck—for them to rest and eat.
  • Try your hand at building an outdoor cat shelter on the cheap with supplies easily found at any hardware store. Alley Cat Allies has easy outdoor cat shelter instructions, including a shelter that can be built in less than 30 minutes, at AlleyCat.org/ShelterGallery.

Trap-Neuter-Return

  • All cats should be spayed or neutered. But some community or feral cats won’t allow people to touch them, and so to best care for these cats they need to be humanely trapped and brought to a participating clinic or veterinary office. After they’re neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped for identification, the cats are returned to their outdoor home.
  • If you’re trapping in the summer months, it’s important to be extra careful. It can be dangerous for cats to stay in traps in the heat too long—making heatstroke, which can be deadly, a possibility. For the safety of the cats, once they’ve been trapped, keep them in the shade or in an air-conditioned space, and do not leave them in the car while trapping additional cats.
  • Placing traps on surfaces that absorb the sun’s heat can also be dangerous, making the metal traps hot enough to burn cats’ paws.

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