By Dr. Irfan Ahmed*
Preventive and precautionary measures are taken to ensure that you stay away from contracting illnesses and diseases, and it is important to do the same with your cat friends. Rainy season brings in a lot of risk of infections, so it is vital that your pets are taken good care of during this cold, humid, and wet spell.
Heaviness in atmosphere can raise humidity, which in turn makes spreading of infections very easy. Fevers and infections are very common during monsoons because of the elevated levels of humidity and moisture in air. Digestive problems, unclean environments and lack of physical activity can also lead to a whole lot of serious conditions and illnesses.
List of the most common and potentially dangerous conditions that pets can develop during cold and wet weather are: Leptospira, Maggots, Parvovirus diarrhoea, Distemper, Hepatitis, Paw wounds, Bugs, ticks, and fleas.
There is no alternative to vaccinations. If you haven’t been sticking to your pet’s vaccination schedule, this season demands that you make a quick visit to your vet and get your cat vaccinated. You can also consult doctor to gauge what collars, powders or lotions are good for prevention of common diseases amongst pets during the rainy season.
Warmth and dryness
The first thing to do is to ensure that your pets are kept dry and warm since temperatures fall quickly and substantially after summers. Make sure your cat has easy access to dry and warm places in your house. It is also important to keep your pets dry, in case they have been exposed to rain. Keep a few soft and clean towels handy – pat your pet dry every time they enter the house after being outdoors. It is also crucial that temperature inside the house is regulated and not too cold. Floors and walls go really cold during monsoons, so keep dry rugs, mattresses, and bedding at different places in your home, where your pet can comfortably sit or sleep. When selecting the right bedding for your pet, make sure you pick one that keeps it warm.
Be sure that your pet’s bedding stays dry. Damp bedding can aid in the growth of nefarious organisms, lower your pet’s immunity to infection, and is generally uncomfortable.
Skin and fur
Unlike humans, cats tend to retain a lot of moisture in their skin and fur. This can lead to a wide range of skin infections and diseases. It is best to maintain a regular cleaning and bathing routine for your pets. Use a reliable antiseptic conditioning shampoo with warm water to bathe your pets and make sure you pat them dry after their bath with a soft towel. While cats are known to be averse to water and self-sufficient in terms of licking themselves clean, it is equally important for cat owners to clean them once in a while to ensure that their fur stays healthy and clean and groom them. You can also use a pet fur remover to get rid of any loose or excessive hair and fur on your pet. If you notice that your pet’s coat has become noticeably dull in colour and appearance, see your vet immediately.
The neck area, especially amongst cats, can react in different ways to collars and leashes that have been in use for a long time. It is not a bad time to think about replacing your cat’s collar and leash that you’ve been using. Pick a collar and leash that is adjustable, durable, comfortable, made from breathable fabric, and features rust-free buckles.
Just like we take extra care and caution when we talk about what food we should eat and what we must avoid during the rains, it is essential that pets are treated the same way. Find out from your vet that what foods are to be steered clear of during monsoons and get a deworming session done before it is too late. Worm infestation could potentially lead to conditions like general debility anorexia or anaemia. Usually, a fibre-rich diet should help your pets maintain good metabolism and prevent indigestion or worms. Stagnant water can also attract germs and lead to stomach infections. It is advisable to boil the water that your pets drink, in order to get rid of any contamination in it. Also ensure that the plates, bowls, and containers your cats eat food and drink water from are kept clean.
The ears of cats are prone to infections due to moisture content present in air. It becomes essential to clean your pet’s ears more frequently during the monsoons in order to avert any such ear infections. Schedule a visit to your vet in case you see your pet scratching their ears more than they usually do. You can even buy an ear cleaning product online or from a pet store and clean their ears at home using a cotton swab. Just ensure that you are very careful while doing this yourself since the inside of ears is a sensitive area.
Paws and nails
We all know how dirty and germ-infested the soil and streets become when it rains. Pets that step outdoors often during rains are susceptible to getting infected via their paws. Health and cleanliness of your pet’s paws is of utmost importance, since dirty paws may lead to a variety of infections. Clean your pet’s paws using warm water and a clean cloth, cotton swab or soft towel every time they come back into the house. Paw creams, like the one mentioned below, can soothe and soften your pet’s paws, enrich them with essential minerals and also deal with cracks, itching, inflammation, and cuts. The nails, too, accumulate a lot of dirt in them. It is advisable to clip your pet’s nails before or at the start of the monsoon.
Dull weather and heaviness in air may make your pet feel lazy and lethargic. Don’t we all feel like sleeping a little more during monsoons? It is no different when it comes to cats. You will find them lazing around for a few extra hours and not being as active as they normally are; it is important that they are made to run around and play fetch indoors or any activity that interests them. Lethargy can quickly lead to obesity and you don’t want your pet to become a huge ball of fur that simply sleeps all day, do you?
Anxiety and depression
There is nothing more despairing than to see an unhappy pet. It is natural for your pets to feel low and depressed during monsoons – and the weather is to blame. Cats often show signs of sadness and detachment during this season, so it is important to spend time with them, cuddle them, and reward them with little treats for everything they do. Thunderstorms, lightning, and heavy rains can also be quite frightening for your pets, so make sure they aren’t left unattended or outdoors when you know the forecast says there are high chances of storms and showers. Ensure that your furry pal gets your time and attention, and can sneak into your room or under your bed in case they feel scared. Play with them, talk to them, and engage them in physical activities to uplift their moods. In case your pet shows too many unusual signs and symptoms of anxiety (including excessive scratching, loud noises, etc.), it is best to consult your vet.
* The author is a professor by profession. He is a self-confessed cat slave who has loved cats all his life. He is a pet parent to 3 ragdoll cats. He runs Mallika’s Cattery – a cat boarding service in Bengaluru.