Autumn is the season where we regain the hours that we lost in in the spring, but the days get darker earlier and the nights gets longer. Some welcome the landscapes of autumn and its changing leaves, while others long for warmer weather. Whichever season you prefer, we all have some adapting to do as they change, and so do our feline friends.
Learning the common problems our cats might face in autumn can help keep them safe and sound over the next few months.
Road traffic accidents
Autumn days are shorter which means that while our cats might be out for the same amount of time as before, most of their adventure will now be done in the dark. This means that drivers are relying on their headlights to be able to see what is around them, which means cats are sometimes involved in road traffic accidents. Surprisingly, according to our 2019 data, we see less road traffic accidents in September and November compared to the summer months of June, July and August.
Our 2019 claims data also shows that regardless of this decrease, road traffic accidents still cost an average of £1,589.10, which shows just how important having pet insurance can be to help you with those unexpected vet bills.
Seeking warmth in cars
Another danger with the darker days is the colder weather that comes with it. This means that cats might curl up on tyres or near a car’s engine, in their hunt for warmth. Giving a quick bang on the bonnet or tooting your horn can help scare a cat out from its hiding place and potentially saving its life.
This is something that should be shared among cat and dog owners alike, as well as those with no pets at all.
Eating too much food
According to a 2014 study, cats tend to eat more during the colder months and that they should be given more food during this time to keep up with the extra energy they need. They suggested that this was because cats will use more energy to maintain its body temperature during the colder months and will eat more food as fuel for the extra energy it needs.
It is important to speak to a vet about the amount of food your cat needs to see them through the autumn months.
Candles and open fires
With Halloween celebrated at the end of autumn, candles bringing a nice flicker to darker evenings and open fires providing warmth on colder days, there are a lot of ways a cat could get burnt. These flickering flames may attract the interest of your cat, and due to their thick, insulating coats, they might not notice their fur is being singed. This will also keep your cat’s whiskers safe from being burnt as these are really sensitive and are important for their balance.
Fires can not only burn cats, but candles can be easily knocked over so it’s best to put them in places your cat won’t reach, or only use them when your cat isn’t around. Battery operated candles can minimise the risk of accidents and injuries in cats while giving the same warm and cosy glow.
Horror on Halloween
Halloween is great fun for kids, they can dress up as a scary character, knock on different doors and get free sweets. For cats, it’s a very different story. For those that stay indoors, having so many different visitors at the door can be quite distressing, while the cats that spend their night away from home could be just as spooked.
Keeping your cat at home and away from the busy front door can help keep them calm and relaxed, and maybe consider placing a tub of sweets in front of the house to avoid any noisy knocks or persistent bell ringing. If you don’t want to participate in the evening’s events, there are posters you can print or even write your own signs just to make potential trick or treaters aware that you have a pet before they reach your doorstep.
If you have children or have decided to buy some chocolates and sweets to give out to others, be sure to keep any Halloween goodies away from your feline friend as a lot of the night’s popular treats can be toxic to cats.
While cats are out and about, they might be tempted to drink from puddles, ponds and standing water, which means they could be trying to keep themselves hydrated with possibly contaminated water. Antifreeze is highly toxic to cats and dogs, but its sweet taste can make it very appealing to our furry friends.
Any antifreeze products you own should be stored away from cats and ensure spills are immediately cleaned to avoid accidental poisoning.
You might not be able to stop your cat from drinking contaminated water while they’re out on their wanders, but being able to recognise the signs of toxic ingestion can help you recognise an emergency.
The symptoms include:
- Excessive urination
- Fast heart rate
- Seizures or tremors
Fireworks night brings a lot of noise, but also a drastic change to a cat’s routine if their owners decide to keep them indoors. While keeping them indoors keep them safe from the fireworks but can cause a lot of stress for cats.
Because of this, it’s important to look for any subtle changes in your cat’s behaviour that may help you make some adjustments to ease their anxiety or stress.
Signs of stress can include:
- Being withdrawn or hiding
- Less interaction with you
- House soiling or not using the litter tray
- Not eating or drinking as much
- Eating a lot more than usual
- Increased anxiety or fear
- Disturbed sleeping patterns
- Pacing, circling or restlessness
- A scruffy or matted coat
- Excessive grooming
Ticks and fleas
Your cat can still pick up ticks and fleas while out on their daily adventures so always be on the lookout for any pests while you groom your feline friend and keep on top of their preventative treatment.
Arthritis and joint problems
As it gets colder, older cats might start to slow down as they experience joint pains, a very normal symptom of a cat entering their senior years and you might notice some problems developing due to the falling temperatures. Making sure your cat has access to soft or warm bedding can help make things a little easier on their bones but if you spot any signs of soreness or stiffness in your cat be sure to speak to your vet.
Signs of arthritis include:
- Difficulty jumping, running or climbing stairs
- Swelling of their joints
- Sleeping more than usual
- Moving less than usual
- Unkempt or matted fur in areas they find painful to reach
- Swollen or hot joints
- Difficulty using the litterbox
They still get cold
Even with their fur, cats can still suffer from the cold, especially older felines. If your cat still goes outside in autumn, making sure you provide a shelter for them to be able to find some warmth while they’re outdoors. This could be anything from a cardboard box, to a more sophisticated cat den bought from a shop.