Cool for cats – How to care for your kitty in hot weather
We’ve spoken a lot about keeping dogs cool in the heat and spotting the signs of doggy heatstroke, but his blog isn’t just about man’s best friend. Although we tend to think of our cats as sun-worshippers who can take care of their own business better than a dog can, they may still need some help to get through those hot summer days and can get heatstroke just as easily as dog can. So this week we're talking about what to do if your moggy is feeling the heat!
unshine cat photo by Luiza-Maria Scurtu on Pexels
Signs of heatstroke in cats
- They are agitated or restless
- They are stretching out and breathing rapidly
- They appear very distressed
- Their skin is hot to the touch
- They have glazed eyes
- They are drooling or being sick
If your cat is exhibiting some of these symptoms and you are concerned, place them somewhere cool, you may need to shut them in somewhere to make sure they are safe. Dampen their coat gently with tepid water on a cloth– but don’t over cool them or pour water on them – then take them to a vet for treatment.
Deck cat photo by Neil Daftary on Unsplash
Tips for keeping your cat cool
Of course the best thing you can do is be prepared and do everything you can to avoid this from happening in the first place.
Some breeds and types of cat are more susceptible to the risks and you need to take additional care to make sure that they are safe and comfortable. Just like flat-faced dogs, flat-faced cat breeds such as Persians and Munchkins are at increased risk of suffering in the heat. It’s harder for them to keep cool as they may struggle to breathe with a shorter muzzle. Likewise if your cat has breathing difficulties due to a pre-existing condition, is old or overweight then you'll need to keep a closer eye on them during a heatwave too.
Sun worshiper cat photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash
Keep them hydrated
Make sure your pet has access to plenty of clean, fresh water at all times. Check that their bowl is always full and set a time to clean it out and put fresh water in every day as well. Your cat may prefer to spend a lot of time outdoors in this weather, if so place some shallow dishes of water in various places around the garden. This helps in three ways:
1. It means your cat has water close by at all times
2. It encourages them to drink – speaking from my own experience, cats seem to prefer drinking from anything other than their water bowl! They may prefer to drink out of vases of flowers, from the toilet, your fish tank or even a puddle! By placing this water around the garden you may find that they may enjoy drinking it more and drink it more frequently as they think it’s not meant for them!
3. It’s also providing hydration for local wildlife, such as birds and hedgehogs who can also dehydrate in this heat. If you find that birds are enjoying it make sure it’s in an open space so that your cat can’t hide and pounce on them otherwise they may be getting a snack and a toy thrown in with their drink, like a feline Happy Meal!
Older cats in particular are prone to dehydration and may not realise that they need to drink regularly so make sure you keep a special eye on them.
Sunlight cat photo by Norbert Buduczki on Unsplash
Protect their skin
Light-coloured or pink-skinned cats (and dogs) can get sunburnt. This is not only painful but can also lead to skin cancer if they are repeatedly exposed. If you’re worried about this, keep your cat indoors when the sun is at its peak. You can use some of your own sunscreen on them (as long as it is non-toxic) or buy some that is specially formulated for pets and apply it to any vulnerable places such as the tips of their ears or the bridge of their nose.
Groom them regularly
If your cat has a thick coat then groom them regularly to help them shed their winter coat and remove any matts or tangles which could cause them additional discomfort in the heat.
Fluffy cat photo by Kelian Pfleger on Pexels
Provide cool spaces
Some cats may like to sit on a cool damp towel. You could also buy a special cat cooling mat for them to sit on, online. If you don’t have much shade in your garden, make some and make it a comfy space to encourage your cat to sit there by putting down a folded blanket or cushion. You could also put out a large cardboard box with something for them to sit on so they are out of direct sunlight.
Cool cat photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels
We hope you're keeping your cat cool this summer - if you have any extra tips for helping your kitty to stay safe in the sunshine be sure to share them in the comments!
Main photo by Romario Roges on Pexels