Summer is over, the days are getting colder and nights are drawing in. You might not have seen much of your cat through the summer as she played and rested in garden, but now she's back!
Autumn is a great time of year, from the "nearly summer really" beginning to the "almost winter" end. The leaves change colour, the first mists and even frosts will be here, and the harvest of fruit, seeds and nuts arrives. Your cat will probably enjoy playing with the leaves, and hunting spiders in their webs, but spend time rediscovering all her comfortable, warm spots abandonned when the weather got hot.
We thought we would collect some tips to halp you and your cat to have a happy and safe Autumn this year.
Nights are drawing in ....
As it gets darker, the dawn and dusk, when cats are often most active outside, coincide with Rush Hour on the road. This sadly results in more road traffic accidents for cats. You might decide to keep your cat in after dark, or at particularlly busy times.2 If you cat goes out by herself, think of giving her a shiny, reflective collar. If not, and she walks on a harness, one of the illuminated collars are very helpful for seeing where she has got to (and got the lead tangled round!).
More than ever, it is important to urge everyone you know to check sheds and garages before locking them, as a cat waiting for an owner to return, or caught in the rain, or feeling a bit nippy, might well have taken shelter there.
And everybody - slow down and watch out!
Comfort Food ....
In the past, when homes were colder, people used to feed their pets (and themselves) more food, as protection against the cold. These days, when we have central heating, cavity wall insulation and so on, and with many cats becoming effectively indoor cats as the temperature drops, this is not really necessary. A lot of pets are becoming obese, and extra rations at the same time that activity levels go down is not a good idea. Increase the time you spend playing with your cat as the days get shorter, to compensate for less exercise in the garden, and then, if your cat is very active but there is no need to change the amount you feed.
On with the fur coat ....
Even indoor cats will moult in the Autumn, though the new coat will not be as thick as that of a cat that regularly goes outdoors. This can result in more furballs, which nobody likes. If you don't brush your cat every day, it's a good idea to start; it's best to use a specific cat brush as it is designed to safely remove only loose and dead hair without pulling the cat's skin. You may have to train your cat to accept brushing, but most cats do enjoy it, and it's also a good time to check for grass seeds in ears and between toes, knots and tangles, and other problems that can happen outdoors.
If you already brush, you might find you need to increase duration or number of times per day to stay on top of fur balls.
The switching on of the central heating can also trigger flea eggs in carpets and soft furnishings to hatch. Regular brushing is a good time to check for flea droppings or even live fleas.
Sitting by the fire ...
Candles and fireplaces give a warm, cozy glow, but can be dangerous. Cats have thick, insulating coats and do not always realise their fur is getting singed - I grew up with a cat that would regularly get inside the fireguard and end up singed brown on one side. Don't leave your cat unattended in a room with an open fire. Candles can be easily knocked over, or an unwary tail may waft into a flame - think about where to put them so your cat can't get into any trouble.
High days and holidays.....
Halloween and Firework Night will soon be upon us, so be prepared!
And finally ....
"A nice reek of burning autumn leaves came from Cousin Jimmy's smouldering bonfires in the lane. My cats were there, too, stealthy, goblin-eyed, harmonizing with the hour and the place. The twilight - appropriately called the cats' light - is the only time when a cat really reveals himself. Saucy Sal was thin and gleaming, like the silvery ghost of a pussy. Daff was like a dark-grey, skulking tiger. He certainly gives the world assurance of a cat: he doesn't condescend to every one - and he never talks too much. They pounced at my feet and tore off and frisked back and rolled each other over - and were all so a part of the night and the haunted place that they didn't disturb my thoughts at all."
-- L.M. Montgomery "Driftwood"