How to have a pet-friendly BBQ and garden party
Make sure you keep your pet safe when hosting a BBQ with this advice from Cats Protection
BBQ season is so close we can almost taste it! The weather is warming up and summer is finally on its way at last. But before you grab the tongs and get grilling, there are a few things to consider if you have a pet. Cats Protection give their top tips for the ultimate pet-friendly summer BBQ
How to keep pets safe at BBQs
Put up barriers
Open flames can be a big risk for animals as they don’t understand the immediate danger the way a human would. Cats are curious creatures, and they like to investigate new things. It is important to ensure that your BBQ is never left unattended, and the grill is kept covered, even once the flames are out and it is cooling down. You could consider constructing a little homemade barrier around the BBQ to keep your cat out of harm’s way.
Make the BBQ a treat-free zone
If your cat approaches the BBQ, as hard as it might be, avoid giving them any sneaky bits of grilled meat. Cats are opportunistic feeders, so if they think hanging around the BBQ is going to get them fed, then they will stay close. If your cat approaches, make sure to gently discourage them or ask someone else to distract them. Fishing rod toys and puzzle feeders provide great sources of distraction for cats. It’s tough to turn away your beloved pet, but it’s better to keep them safe.
Ask your guests not to feed your pets
BBQ food is not necessarily safe for your cat or dog to enjoy. Foods in the onion family can break down a cat’s red blood cells, which can lead to anaemia, and also cause gastrointestinal upset. Keep onions, garlic, and chives well out of reach and make sure no one offers your cat any food that has been cooked with these ingredients. BBQs can be messy by nature, so it’s worth checking the floor for any dropped scraps your cat might hoover up.
If you’re serving up dessert, remember that chocolate is poisonous for cats and dogs, due to a chemical called theobromine. Chocolate can cause some nasty side effects and even result in death, so keep all puds stored either high up or in an airtight container.
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Watch out for the punch bowl
If you’re popping out the punch and leaving guests to ladle, make sure you put it somewhere that a cat can’t get to. A curious moggie will almost certainly try and give the punch a taste, but alcohol can be dangerous for cats to ingest. To be on the safe side, get a lid for any open alcohol bottles and cover any bowls.
Create a cat safe space
Cats can be stressed by the sudden arrival of new people, so it’s worthwhile creating a space for your cat to retreat to if they feel overwhelmed. To create this safe space, place a spare food bowl, water bowl, and litter tray somewhere quiet and away from the main party area (their food bowl and water bowl must be kept separately from their litter tray, i.e., on opposite sides of the designated safe room). Cats also like to climb up high or hide when they feel stressed, so you could consider putting a cat-friendly shelf in your safe room or a cardboard box lined with blankets for them to hide in.
If you know you have a more nervous cat, it might be worth creating this safe space the day before your BBQ. Hoovering and frantic tidying can also be quite stressful for a cat, so it’s a good idea to prepare your safe space in advance.
Be sun aware
It’s not just the heat of the BBQ you need to be aware of, the sun poses risks too. Hopefully the weather will smile on you for your garden party, and you’ll have a beautiful sunny day, but just like humans cats and dogs can get sunburnt too. Avoid any overheating issues by making sure there are plenty of shady spaces for them to relax in. White or pale-coloured cats are much more susceptible to sunburn, so try chatting to your vet about suitable cat-safe sun cream.
It’s also wise to think about dehydration in the heat. Make sure to put out plenty of fresh water for your pets to lap throughout the day. If you want to take an extra step to keep your moggie cool, try wrapping a bottle of frozen water in a towel and pop it in a shady place for them to lounge over.