Keeping Cool Cats in the Summertime
Yes, we all know that cats a heat-seekers, and often love the warmth. However, even cats can get overheated in a heat-wave, so in this blog, we’re going to look at how to keep the coolest of creatures comfy!
Aren’t cats basically heat-proof?
This is a common myth - but it is a myth! Yes, cats are descended from desert animals, but they lack many of the heat-loss systems that we have. They are much better able to cope with warm weather than a dog is, but are actually no better than humans at dealing with heat. So, if you feel uncomfortably hot, the odds are that your cat does too!
What are the signs of heatstroke in a cat?
Initially, cats usually seem restless, as they try to find somewhere cool. Then, they’ll often start drooling and licking themselves (to make up for the fact that they have no sweat glands under their fur). If they start panting, it means they are becoming significantly overheated, and need to get somewhere cool, immediately. If they can’t, further signs include redness of the tongue and mouth, vomiting, wobbliness or abnormal behaviour, collapse and, ultimately, death.
What do I need to do?
Try and cool them down with airflow and applying cool (not icy) water (which, if they’re conscious, you should also offer to drink), and get them to us as soon as you can. Heatstroke - or hyperthermia - is uncommon in cats, but is potentially life-threatening if it does occur.
How can I keep them safe in the hot weather?
- Remember, cats need water! However, they’re often reluctant to drink, so you may need to encourage them - flowing water may help, and of course it has to be clean so refresh water bowls regularly. Sometimes, a drop of chicken or fish stock can encourage them to have a sip!
- Insulating fur tends to trap heat. By grooming your cat and removing excessive and long hair you can help; this is especially important for long-haired breeds. Grooming also gives you some “friend time” with your cat too!
- Cats may hate to be wet, but stroking them with a cool damp cloth or flannel can be really appreciated in hot weather!
- Direct sunlight may be great in the winter, but in summertime cats can easily overheat, so it’s really important to provide cats with some shade. You can create a shady patch with a cotton bed sheet and cardboard - which, given how much cats love boxes, can be really popular!
- Sometimes, cats will go looking for a cool patch (like a garden shed or outhouse) - but if so, they can easily get trapped in there, so make sure there are water bowls inside, and check them before locking up for the night!
- Outdoor cats might be persuaded to become indoor ones if it’s a nice cool retreat... Curtains closed against the sunlight, a fan to move cool air around the room, and iced bottles of water will lower the temperature nicely for him to be relaxed until the cooler evening.
- Active kittens and youngsters may enjoy “cool play” with ice-cubes - great fun, skittering across the floor, and nice and cool to boot!
- Just like us, cats can get sunburn - especially those areas with thin hair (like noses or ear tips), and especially cats who have pink skin. A drop of cat-safe sun cream (beware, some brands of human suncream may be toxic to cats) can make all the difference, and reduce the risk of skin cancer later in life.