It’s hard to be a feral or community cat. Spring and fall seem to last no time at all compared to cold, wet winters and scorching summers. For caregivers, summer brings a relief from worrying about ice, snow, and below zero temperatures, but has its own set of challenges including summer storms, heat advisories, and parasites. Simple kindnesses like providing shade and cool water and making sure that shelters are tick and flea-free can not only make feral kitties happier, they can save lives.
Summer is a great time to bond with your pet. Long summer drives, time spent in the park, hiking, gardening, and even taking a few pet-friendly road trips. But the summer months can also be dangerous for pets (and people). Here are a few tips to help your pet beat the heat this summer.
Autumn has always been my favorite season. I love the brightly colored falling leaves, sweaters and boots, the crisp kiss of frost in the air, and harvesting the last of summer’s vegetables from the garden – fat pumpkins in orange and white, twisted gourds, and even a few squash and zucchini that still cling to the vine. But fall is also a reminder that winter and all its hardships for outdoor and community cats is right around the corner.
For those of us who care for outdoor critters, the seasons have their own rhythm. Spring means making sure that winter debris like old straw is cleared away, that shelters are repaired after a hard season of snow and ice, and that feeding stations are cleaned and often replaced.
Twelve years ago this November one of the feral cats I cared for, Snowy, disappeared. He had been a part of the colony, it’s “king” really, for many years and every morning he greeted me with a sweet, hungry meow and a little headbonk. His appearance was the cue for the other cats in the colony to come stretching out of their little cat houses or leaping out of the ramshackle barn that was the center of their community. Then, one day, he just wasn’t there.
There’s probably nothing more frightening for a pet owner than hearing that little “humpf” from their veterinarian while they’re listening to their kitty’s heart. But just because your cat has a heart murmur doesn’t mean that something is seriously wrong with your cat. Heart murmurs are common in cats of all ages and something that vets encounter on a weekly, if not daily, basis.
Finally, some good news for FIV (the feline immunodeficiency virus) positive kitties and those who love them: Dr. Annette L. Litster of Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine conducted a long-term study which shows that FIV+ cats can live with negative kitties without infecting them and that mothers infected with FIV do not pass their virus on to their kittens.