We all take measures to keep ourselves cool during hot summer days, but are we doing enough to ensure our pets are kept safe, too? Just like humans, cats can overheat and suffer from dehydration, shock and heatstroke (which can be fatal).
Fortunately, there are multiple ways we can make sure our furry friends remain cool and comfortable even on the hottest day of the year.
Whether your cat is a house cat or spends most of their day outside, our tips will help make summer more bearable. While cats do have their own ways of keeping cool, these are often not effective enough during hot weather, so to ensure your cat is happy and healthy, make use of our guide for steps to keep your cat safe in the heat:
Always provide fresh, clean water
Make sure your cat always has access to plenty of fresh water during heat waves and other hot spells. As many cats don’t seem too interested in drinking water, you can encourage your cat to drink more on hot days by replacing the water a few times a day or by using a cat water fountain. A water fountain is a great option because it keeps the water moving, meaning it is better oxygenated and more appealing to your cat.
Ensure your cat has adequate shade
If your cat spends a lot of time outside, ensure your yard has a shaded spot for them to enjoy.
Many cats end up venturing into sheds and garages when searching for shade, which could result in them accidentally getting locked in overnight.
Keep your feline friend safe by making sure they have a comfortable, cool spot to enjoy within your yard and by always checking your shed before locking up for the night. While we are on the subject of cats getting trapped, always make sure your greenhouse and conservatory are closed, because if a cat gets into these areas they can overheat very quickly. Remember that these rooms magnify the heat and do not get any breeze, so they can become dangerously hot, even on days that are seemingly cool outside. It takes just a couple of minutes for heatstroke to occur, so it is important to keep these rooms closed and inaccessible to your cat.
Open windows or use air conditioning
Cooling breezes make a world of difference, so opening windows will help with air circulation and temperature control.
If you are worried about your cat escaping through an open window, consider using protective mesh or screens to prevent your cat from going outside. This is a great way to allow fresh air into the room without allowing your cat outside access. Another option is to control the temperature of the room using AC. Many people will turn the air conditioning unit in their house off as they go out for the day--but don’t forget about your precious companion animal. Consider setting the AC on an average constant temperature as a way of ensuring your pet will be comfortable when the temperature rises.
Groom your cat daily
Brushing your cat each day will help prevent knots and tangles from forming in their fur. If your cat has knotted fur there is less airflow and the matted fur will trap heat, meaning they will get hotter quicker. Although it sounds simple, keeping your cat's coat free from knots will support their ability to control their temperature and prevent them from overheating.
If your cat enjoys being stroked and groomed, you may also want to take a damp washcloth and use it to stroke your cat. This can help to cool them down; many cats actually enjoy this on a hot day because you are only applying a very small amount of moisture to their fur just as they would when grooming themselves.
Create a cooling spot
You can give your cat a cool area to enjoy by wrapping an ice block or a pack of frozen peas in a towel and placing it in an area your cat likes to lounge. That way if your cat begins to feel too warm they can use the cool spot to help bring their temperature down. It is important not to use commercial chemical ice packs for this as they are dangerous to your cat if they break or burst.
Keep some curtains closed
Keeping a few of the curtains in your house closed during the day is a simple way of reducing the effects of the sunlight coming through the windows and heating up rooms. Not only will this help to keep the temperature within your house down but it will also help to provide shaded areas within the house for your cat to enjoy.
The risk of heatstroke
The above steps will help you to keep your cat safe during hot weather. One of the serious risks of hot weather is heatstroke. Heatstroke can occur for a number of reasons, the main factors that contribute to heatstroke are:
- A hot, humid environment with limited ventilation
- Inadequate drinking of water
- Inadequate shade
- Excessive exercise
Warning signs of heatstroke
Heatstroke is a very real hazard, dogs tend to suffer from it more often than cats, which is mainly because dogs tend to spend more time in cars and will go out to exercise with their owners. With that said, cats are also at risk and some cats are more prone to suffering from heatstroke than others, this includes; elderly cats, overweight cats and kittens. Flat-faced breeds such as Persian, Exotic Shorthair and Himalayan are also more at risk of heatstroke.
How do you know if your cat is suffering from heatstroke? Below are the key signs to look out for, it is important to note that heatstroke is an emergency, so if you see these symptoms you should call a vet immediately:
- Increased heart rate
- Sunken eyes
- Little or no urine production
- Pale or very red gums
- Muscle tremors
Your cat may also be dehydrated. If you think this may be the case, a good way to check is by gently pinching your cat’s skin between the neck and shoulders, when you let the skin go it should quickly ping back into place. If it doesn’t and stays "tented," this is a sign that your cat is dehydrated.
What to do if your cat shows signs of heatstroke
During hot weather, it is important to keep a close eye on your animal companions. If you see any of the above signs, you should take immediate steps to cool your cat down and contact a vet.
You can cool your cat down by removing your pet from the hot environment and gently wetting their fur. Once you have wet your cat’s fur, you should call a vet for further instruction and advice.
Heatstroke is an emergency, so you will most likely need to take your cat to the vet so the vet can check them over, assess the severity of the heatstroke and provide immediate treatment to prevent internal issues.
Veterinary treatment for heatstroke may include intravenous fluids, cooling treatments, supplemental oxygen, blood tests and medication. Heatstroke can be fatal, which is one of many reasons it is so important to keep your companions safe in the heat.
Article via our partner, Tuxedo cat