It’s shaping up to be a long hot summer and everybody deserves some treats. We think this includes our furry feline friends as well! Today we will recommend some of the best toys for cats in the summer.
Everyone likes an ice cream on a hot day, and while we don’t recommend sugary human ice lollies for cats, you might want to consider making some cat-friendly cold treats yourself. This could be as simple as keeping their food in the fridge or dropping an ice cube in their water bowl, or it could involve complex recipes for meaty ice lollies. One good recipe is making frozen broth cubes by freezing cat-safe broth (don’t use stock-cubes meant for humans, as they can be very salty). You can make meaty cubes from frozen tuna, pâté or pouch food. There are also commercial cold cat treats available to purchase. Even plain old ice cubes can be fascinating for cats that like to play.
These treats have a few benefits. As well as entertainment and enrichment for bored cats, they help keep your cat cooler and avoid heatstroke, and ensure they remain hydrated on hot days. For elderly cats who are vulnerable to dehydration this can be especially beneficial. As with all edible treats, keep them to a minimum to avoid overeating and obesity – if you are treating them, reduce their normal food portion in turn.
Catnip is a herb related to mint containing a powerful chemical that many cats love! Some cats will go crazy and hyperactive, burning off lots of energy in the process (be wary of this on hot days), while others will become lazy, calm and chilled out. It is also very safe, with no known risk of overdose. It can be given either as whole leaves, sprinkled around the garden or dried and hidden inside things. You can get creative and make your own catnip toys if you’re a little crafty. Catnip can easily be found in many pet shops and online.
For those of you with green fingers, why not try growing your own catnip! Catnip grows well in most gardens and is planted in spring when the frosts have gone, meaning it will be ready for harvest just as summer comes around! Be careful your greedy kitty doesn’t get to it early – you might want to put a fence round it or grow it in a pot up high where they can’t reach. And excess catnip can be frozen for later use (or given as an exciting frozen treat!).
Remember though that not all cats will be interested in catnip.
Climbing Frames and Dens
Everyone knows cats like to climb, so why not get them an outdoor climbing frame or cat tower? There are plenty available that can be placed outdoors. You can even make your own – depending how into DIY you are, this could be as simple as a few cardboard boxes or as complex as a big wooden structure. Especially in summer, many cats love to lounge outside in the sun, so providing a nice sunbathing spot for them can be a good idea.
On the flip-side, other cats prefer to hide, so you could use your newfound craft skills and make a den using boxes. Try filling it with some toys, a water bowl, or even catnip to encourage use. Moving it around and changing the structure can keep it fresh all summer!
Many owners tell us their cat never drinks – of course they do take in water but we often don’t see or recognise it. Cats can be fussy about where they drink, and some will prefer to drink running water. For these fussy felines, you can buy special cat fountains that they can lap from. Particularly in summer, these can be important to prevent dehydration, especially in elderly cats or those with kidney issues. If your budget doesn’t stretch to cat fountains, placing tubs of water around the garden can encourage cats to drink when they pass (and might help the odd bird or hedgehog too!).
If your cat is as lazy as Garfield, consider a cat hammock. These miniature hammocks can come free-standing or attach to trees. Just like climbing frames, they are the perfect place for lazy cats on hot summer days to while away the hours. Again, those of a creative mind may be able to make their own using old bedsheets and some thick string.
Balls and Puzzle Feeders
Many cats love to hunt. In summer, to keep lazy cats active as well as reduce damage to the local wildlife populations, why not see if your cat will ‘hunt’ something else, like a ball, fish on a string, a bag of catnip or even loo roll tubes? Some cats will spend hours attacking their toys!
You can up the ante and the interest by using puzzle feeders filled with kibble. There’s plenty on the market, but a toilet roll tube filled with treats and both ends sealed can work just as well. Just be sure to clear up the remains so they don’t cause problems. And remember to take the calories out of their evening meal!
We will admit that not many cats like water that much, but there are some aqua-loving fishing cats that might appreciate water-based toys. Fill a shallow paddling pool with water and throw in some rubber ducks, plastic balls or a favourite toy and see if your cat takes to them. They might not want to go for a swim, but many cats will stand on the edge and bat the toys back and forth. Perfect for a hot day!
Cat Sun Cream
Okay, calling this one a toy is a bit of a stretch, but it is worth mentioning in summer anyway. Just like humans, cat skin is delicate, and harmful UV rays from the sun can cause sunburn. As well as pain and skin peeling, over time this can lead to increased risk of skin cancer. In cats, squamous cell carcinomas, a particularly nasty malignant skin cancer, are common on the face, nose and ears, where fur is shorter. White and other pale-coloured cats are especially vulnerable. Please always apply a little sun cream on your cat’s ear tips and nose before they go out on very hot days. We recommend a proper cat-specific sun cream, but you can use sun cream for babies too.