If your cat goes outdoors at all, you should be wary of a menace that may be growing in your own yard. Foxtails, a common weed, can potentially pose a serious health hazard to cats. With springtime here, it's important that you wipe out any foxtails that you find before they can hurt your cat. Here's how foxtails pose a hazard to cats and some ideas on what you can do about them.
The Danger of Foxtails
Foxtails are a spiky variety of weed that have evolved to have a sharp shape to more effectively pierce the ground and spread their seeds. However, when foxtails stick to a cat's fur, the movement of the cat can potentially cause the foxtail to become embedded in their flesh. Over time, the foxtail may infect their skin or even travel further into their bodies, causing serious pain and inflammation.
In some cases, a cat may sniff or attempt to eat a foxtail, which can also cause serious problems. Inhaled or ingested foxtails can migrate to other parts of your cat's body and embed themselves there, like in the stomach, trachea, or even lungs. This can cause a severe internal infection that may require surgery to clean out and repair.
Kill Your Weeds
Although cats who are allowed to wander may potentially encounter foxtails in other areas, you should always keep your own yard free of them. If you spot any foxtails, it's best to remove them at the root so that they don't grow back. However, since foxtail seeds can potentially get carried through the air and end up in your yard, the best method may be to use a weed killer to keep them out of your yard entirely.
Keep Your Cat Indoors
While you've no doubt heard that cats live longer, healthier lives if they're kept indoors, you probably hadn't considered that this could be partially due to plant life. However, it's true; cats who are kept indoors can potentially live up to 14 years, whereas on average, a cat allowed to roam may only make it to five. While this is partially due to predators, cars, and diseases, it also exposes your cat to threats like foxtails, which they'd never have to face if they were kept indoors.
If you want to continue to let your cat go outside, make sure that you kill any foxtails that you find in your own yard. Also, examine your cat whenever they come indoors for any foxtails that may be stuck in their fur or skin and remove them. With these tips, you'll reduce the likelihood of your cat being harmed by a foxtail.
For more information, contact Edinburgh Animal Hospital or a similar location.