When we think of protecting ourselves against excessive heat, how many of us ever think of protecting our pets too?
Cats are hot stuff! Their bodies run a few degrees warmer than ours so they actually enjoy the heat most of the time. They have their own heat defense mechanisms, but we can help them too. Most of the suggestions below are plain common sense, but not all of us think of them, so let’s go through them.
1. Schedule a proper time for a walk
It’s best to keep your moggy indoors between 10 am and 3 pm. This is the hottest part of the day and the time when the sun is at its fiercest. Not only might this cause dehydration and sunstroke, but white and light colored cats may be in danger of having their noses and ears burnt. Invest in a protective pet sunscreen which can’t be licked away, and apply it frequently.
2. Keep heat out of the house
While kitty is indoors, keep blinds and curtains shut to keep out the heat of the sun. If it’s really much hotter outside than inside your house, close the windows too. This may sound counter-intuitive as you want to let fresh air in to cool the place down, but it isn’t. I have a brick path outside my house, and in the summer it literally bakes. If I leave a door or window open, I might as well be turning on a hair dryer!
3. Specialized cooling mats
Cats always go where the most comfort is, so it will be a warm spot in the sun in winter, but in the summer your cat will instinctively seek out the coolest spot he can find, usually something like a tiled or lino-covered floor. Keep plenty of fans around, and if you’re lucky enough to have an air conditioner, use that too. There are certain specialized cooling mats you can buy online or on the high street which are manufactured specially to cool your pets in summer.
4. Hydration is the key
Keep your cat hydrated. Bowls of water placed all around the house in areas which your cat frequents help to keep him from becoming hot and thirsty. Remember, though that they prefer their water and food to be far apart (Fussy creatures!), some cats like fountains and running water and will drink from them more easily. Breeds like Maine Coons are especially delighted by these.
Sleep time is increasing during hot days
Cats are the Olympic champions when it comes to sleeping. For various evolutionary reasons, their bodies need up to sixteen hours of sleep sleep a day, and this can be longer in hot weather, so don’t be alarmed if his naps turn into sleep marathons. It’s quite normal. Cats listen to their bodies, and they’ve figured out that it’s best not to exert yourself too much when the sun is high. The real action begins at twilight!
Keep an eye on his feet
Your cat may spend more time licking himself than he normally does. Cats groom themselves a lot anyway, but in hot weather, they do it more often. They have no sweat glands on their bodies, so the saliva evaporates and cools the kitty off in the same way as perspiration does. In fact, the only place a cat has sweat glands is on his feet, so keep a careful eye on them when the weather is hot. If you see that kitty is leaving wet footprints on the floor, then he’s perspiring excessively and needs a lot more water, which is why you should leave bowls of it lying around.
Signs of Hyperthermia
Did you think dogs were the only animals who pant in the heat? Not so! Cats seldom pant, but they will do so if they are feeling really, really hot. However, if your cat is panting extremely heavily he could be in danger of developing heatstroke. One of the most common causes of this is pets being left in the car with the windows closed. This is a recipe for disaster, so please don’t do it.
Heatstroke or Hyperthermia is an extremely serious and life-threatening condition, which is made worse if the animal is overweight or has another condition like heart disease. It’s caused when the cat’s temperature rises beyond its natural ability to cope with the heat. The first stage is heat exhaustion. Your cat becomes agitated as he attempts to find some shade to lie down in. He begins to pant, his pads sweat and he grooms frantically to try to get his temperature down. If he can’t, he will develop other distressing symptoms, such as a fast pulse, rapid breathing, staggering when walking, sluggishness, vomiting, and a red mouth and tongue. By this time his temperature is over 105°F and unless immediate treatment is given, his internal organs shut down. Seizures, coma, and death follow quickly.
How to treat Hyperthermia
In the first stages, if kitty is only uncomfortable but not dangerously hot, take him to a shaded place and give him water. If he’s beginning to show some of the symptoms above but is still conscious, wet him thoroughly with cool water, put him in the shade and let him drink, then take him to the vet, since his temperature will have already risen to around 103°F – 104°F. If your cat is already unconscious, soak him thoroughly with cool water, taking care that none gets into his nose and mouth. Put a bag of ice (or frozen veggies or something similar) between his legs and take him straight to the vet. I can’t stress enough how serious this is. His temperature is now critically elevated and he will definitely die without medical intervention. However, if caught in time, he can easily recover, but speed is of the essence.
Love her and protect her
Anyway, on that cheerful note, I hope that this has given you some food for thought and helps you to have a cool comfortable cat this summer, but you can’t go wrong if you keep on loving him!
About the Author:
Hi, I’m Jane Miller! I’m a certified cat lover and an unapologetic writer! That’s why I created SweetieKitty! Born in Connecticut, one sunny day of April, during the most interesting decade of past century! Nowadays I live in South Carolina, with my three tomcats! I’d love to read your comments on my article!