Most cats love warm and sunny weather and with the warmer, summer climate now here, here are some steps you can take to keep your cat safe and comfortable throughout the summer months, and while out in the sun.
Your cat should always have unlimited access to fresh, clean drinking water. If your cat prefers to stay outside place the bowls in shaded areas of your garden making sure that your cat always has plenty of fresh water outdoors and in. Replenishing their water with a fresh, cool supply several times a day, can encourage your cat to drink. Placing multiple bowls around the house and garden will ensure that fresh water is always within easy reach. Cat’s love running water, so a cat “water-fountain” is also particularly useful. If your cat is not eating as much in the hot weather, it is common for cats to eat less in the heat of the summer but do monitor this and keep a check on their weight.
Although some cats love to lie out in the sun for hours on end, it is still important for them to be able to cool off in the shade when they get too hot. Ensure that your cat has a few cool shady spots to find easily around the house and in the garden. Make sure that they can always come back inside when they want to and, if possible, provide access to shaded areas outside if the house also gets too hot. Do not be surprised if you find your cat indoors lying on the cooler tiles on the kitchen floor, or in the bathroom in the warm summer months, or even in the base of the shower or in the bath! Simply opening the windows to let in a breeze can help provide a cooler, healthier area for your cat to relax and rest in. You can also get a small box fan and set it on the floor or near an open window. Elevate your cat’s bed. This will allow your cat to sleep in comfort during hot weather, and the air passing under the bed will also help to keep your cat cooler. Pet cool-mats are also an excellent way to provide a cooling area for your cat to lie.
Groom your cat often. A well-groomed, tangle-free coat will also help keep your cat cool. If your cat has long hair and a matted coat, consider professional clipping here to help keep them as cool and comfortable as possible during the summer months.
White and light-coloured cats also have very pale skin, and they can be subject to sunburn, particularly on the delicate skin on their ear tips or nose area. A Cat-friendly, safe, high-factor, pet sun block can be used as directed topically to avoid Ultraviolet skin damage, which can if left lead to skin cancer lesions developing. Applying a sun block to these exposed areas of skin can reduce the risk of sunburn.
On a hot day take a dampened cloth and stroke and wipe down your cat's coat with it. Most cats do not mind a little bit of moisture on their fur, especially when they notice how it can cool them off. In fact, one of the ways cats cool themselves down is by licking and grooming themselves.
Fill a small drink bottle with cold water and leave it in the freezer overnight. In the morning, wrap the bottle in a towel and put this in your cat’s favourite lounging spot to keep them cool.
Always check any garden sheds and greenhouses before shutting and locking any doors. Cats can find their way inside if they are looking for a shady spot to cool down in, so always check first to avoid trapping them inside, as they could then quickly become dehydrated. The same goes for checking cars. If you leave your windows open to let the car cool down, always check that a cat has not crept inside before you lock the car or drive away.
Ensure that your cat is Microchipped, so that if it ends up locked in someone else's shed, or wanders off to cool down, then you can both hopefully be reunited as quickly as possible.
Cats keep themselves cool by seeking out the shade, sweating through their footpads, and by physically licking their coat to allow saliva to evaporate and transfer heat away from their body. Cats generally only pant to cool down as a last resort, so if you notice them panting excessively, this may well be a sign that they are overheating.
Symptoms and signs of heatstroke include excessive panting; anxiety; unsteadiness; lethargy; drooling; inflamed, dry gums; vomiting; collapse or unconsciousness.
If you are worried about your cat and suspect they are suffering from heatstroke, then please call your Vet surgery immediately for assistance here, as severe heatstroke can be fatal. Do make sure they have access to clean, fresh water, wrap them in a cool, wetted towel and gently dampen their coat and paws with cold compresses and seek an appointment at your Vet surgery urgently.
Hopefully though, with this advice, you, and your lovely cats will have a happy, and healthy summer ahead.