How to protect your cat during forest fires

Forest fires ravaged the west coast, affected air quality, ruined homes and businesses, and created an apocalyptic sky. The fires have also put cats at risk of smoke inhalation and exhaustion from the heat, which can be fatal.

“Like everything else, smoke is an air pollutant, regardless of whether it is car exhaust or fossil fuels. As an air pollutant, we all, animal and human, should limit our exposure, ”says Jennifer Sergeeff, DVM, DACVIM, internist and medical director of the BluePearl Special and Emergency Veterinary Clinic in Daly City, CA, whose practice and home were in the Smoke zone of the fires during their peak.

Domestic cats are also susceptible.

“You still get some smoke,” says Dr. Sergeeff. “It’s a lot less than [a dog or outdoor cat] because when it comes in it’s usually not the big particles. The ashes will stay outside. “

In addition, the California wildfires coincided with a heat wave.

“Those of us who have it were running our air conditioning at the same time because it was 97 degrees,” says Dr. Sergeeff.

The air conditioners brought air in from the outside and smoke in, where cats breathed it in. According to Dr. It is important to Sergeeff to ensure that the air vents in the AC are clean and updated. She also shared other tips on spotting smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion, as well as safely evacuating with a cat.

What are signs of smoke inhalation in cats?

If you notice that your cat’s eyes are watery or red, they may be suffering from smoke inhalation. It is especially important to monitor cats with pre-existing lung or heart conditions.

“[They] can tend to aggravate coughing, wheezing, and almost asthmatic symptoms, ”says Dr. Sergeeff.

The difficulty breathing may gradually worsen during the first 24 hours after inhaling the smoke.

What are the signs of heat exhaustion in cats?

Heat exhaustion occurs when a pet’s body absorbs more heat than it can remove. Unlike dogs, cats generally do not gasp.

“Cats will hide,” says Dr. Sergeeff. “You will be flat and sluggish. You will be limp. You don’t usually vomit. It’s not a thing with cats. When it is very serious, they will remember that they will have their mouths and pants. This is a real emergency system for cats. “

If you suspect your cat is suffering from heat exhaustion, place them in the luggage rack and call the vet. You may be able to sit at the top of the car with the air conditioning.

“If they don’t wake up or behave normally in 10 to 15 minutes, they have to see the vet,” says Sergeeff.

The veterinarian may use IV fluids to cool kitty internally.

You should keep your cat indoors during the wildlife season

No judgment on leaving kitty outside during normal hours, but this is the time to keep her inside, and not just because of the fires themselves.

Connected: Heart problems in feline wildfire victims

“Normal wild animals that live in canyons come into residential areas,” warns Sergeeff. “It’s not unusual where I live [to see] Bobcats, cougars and foxes. Your cat is a meal for this species. “

How to evacuate with a cat

Preparation is key when you need to evacuate. Try to get your cat used to the carrier by putting in treats, which Dr. Sergeeff made successful with one of her two kittens.

“If I open the closet it’s kept in, it’ll run in and I can just rip it,” she says.

Regardless of whether Kitty loves or hates the wearer, Dr. Sergeeff to put it in before collecting other things.

“Find your cat before it knows something is wrong because as soon as you start taking your medication or yelling at your husband, your cat’s instinct is, ‘Something is wrong, I’m hiding,” “she says.

If possible, opt for a more private space rather than a pet friendly shelter, which can make your cat more anxious.

“Many evacuees stay with friends, rent an Airbnb, or go to a pet-friendly hotel,” says Dr. Sergeeff.

Featured photo: AaronAmat / Getty Images

Continue reading: Be Prepared For Disaster: How To Evacuate With Cats


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