Summer and hot, sunny days are just around the corner. Cats can worship their own personal sunbeam, but excessive heat is dangerous. Like us, felines are susceptible to heatstroke, sunburn, heat exhaustion, skin cancer and dehydration. So while you find ways to stay cool, make sure you help your cat do the same.
Keep your kitty safe with these summer tips for cats
Clean water for your cat is crucial any time of the year, but even more so when the temperature rises. Cats are not big drinkers and need encouragement to consume enough water needed to stay hydrated. Make sure their water is always clean, and their dish is washed daily. If you are going to be away from your house for an extended period of time you may want to put a couple of ice cubes in their water.
Expert Tip: Running water, whether from a tap or a cat fountain, is a great idea. The noise of running water attracts cats, and the water is always clean. Place water dishes throughout the house so your cat is never too far away from a bowl.
Senior cats may require additional hydration via subcutaneous fluids. Dehydration is a very common concern with elderly felines.
Pay extra attention to food in the summer heat as well. Bacteria grows much faster in warm weather, both on food and in water. Canned food especially needs to be kept fresh. Try to avoid putting dishes in direct sunlight and store any uneaten portions in the fridge.
Frozen treats aren’t just for dogs. You can supplement your cat’s diet with a variety of frozen treats to keep them cool, hydrated, and entertained. There are many foods that you can freeze and make into popsicles for your cat. You can find recipes for homemade “catsicles” online, or you can buy cat food products that can be frozen.
Their castle (your home)
There is no denying that cats enjoy heat. Whether it’s laying around on a sunny windowsill, in front of a roaring fire, or a heating pad, cats gravitate to warmth. However, high temperatures in the summer can be overwhelming, and interfere with a cat’s natural ability to regulate their own body temperature.
Closing windows, and blinds or curtains, in the morning will help keep your house cooler. Use fans throughout the house to keep the air moving. For a colder zone you can place some ice in front of a fan. You can also freeze water in a large pop bottle, wrap it in a towel, and put it in one of the areas your cat lounges in. If you happen to have air conditioning use a timer (if possible) to turn it on periodically when you are not home.
Brush your cat regularly as matted fur traps the heat. Some cats also like to be covered with a cool damp towel.
Even though cats are much better equipped to deal with heat than us, heatstroke is still a concern during a heat wave. When cats are hot they will pant and breathe with their mouths open, their paws will get moist from sweating, and they may over groom in an attempt to moisten their fur. The first sign that your cat is too hot and may get heatstroke is when the panting becomes frantic. Place a cool towel on their paws (not ice cold since that may shock their system). Give them water, and if they refuse to drink, moisten a dish towel and rub it on their gums.
Signs of a heatstroke that follow frantic panting are red tongue and gums, drooling, confusion, vomiting and diarrhea, and collapsing. You need to call your vet right away if you suspect heatstroke.
Ideally you want to keep your cat indoors during hot weather, but if that is not possible there are several things you can do to help them battle the heat. They will need shady areas to get out of the sun. If your yard lacks greenery put out an umbrella, cardboard box, or anything that will create shade. If you have outdoor buildings be careful not to lock your cat into one by mistake. Water is a must. Place clean, cold water in multiple shady areas around your home. Use stainless steel or ceramic dishes, stay away from plastics. Try to replace the water as often as possible. Apply pet-safe sunscreen to any areas of your cat that lack fur. White cats especially can get terrible sunburns on the tips of their ears if they don’t have sunscreen on.
Finally, if there are any homeless cats in your neighbourhood contact your nearest shelter, but while they are around please give them some water and a place to get out of the sun.
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