Tips on Keeping Your Cat Cool

Tips on Keeping your pet cat cool in Summer 

It has been well relayed, documented and communicated now that we must keep our pet dogs cool in summer.  

However, keeping your pet cat cool, happy and healthy over the hot, summer months is just as important and essential too. 

Cats were first domesticated from desert species, on continents like Asia and Africa, so they generally do enjoy the sunshine and heat. Unfortunately, however, too much heat can lead to serious problems in cats also, such as heatstroke and sunburn. 

Most cats can regulate their own body temperature to keep themselves safe, but certain breeds, such as longhaired and flat faced cats, overweight and elderly cats are at a much higher risk of developing problems when the weather becomes hot. 

Most cats sensibly avoid overheating by seeking shade, however, if they are trapped in a hot area, for example a shed, porch, or greenhouse, and have no way to cool themselves down, then they are at high risk of heatstroke. Do a thorough check of all your outbuildings, sheds, garages, and cars for cats sleeping inside them before you close them. Cats are naturally inquisitive and could creep into such areas if windows and doors are left open, leaving them trapped in a small space that could then become dangerously hot. 

To keep your cat cool, create a safe shady spot outside. If you have a garden, trees and shrubs make great natural, leafy shade for them. Alternatively, you could try making your own shady spot by creating a cool, shady den or cat-tent area for your pet. You can protect your cat from direct sun by creating plenty of cool, shaded areas for them to lie in. Create shaded spaces both outside and inside the house by closing over curtains and blinds to protect your cat from the sun coming indoors and keep the house well ventilated. On hot, humid days, you might want to encourage your cat to stay in the cool of the house and out of the sun during the hottest part of the day. This is important if you think your cat is more at high risk of heatstroke or sunburn. If weather forecast is set to be very warm, make sure your cat can head out to explore in the early morning and in the evening when the weather is likely to be cooler. A great way of protecting your cat from the heat, is to create a cool, quiet room indoors for them to relax in and sleep. Close over the curtains and blinds and create a gentle breeze with pet-safe fans, and open windows to provide plenty of ventilation. You can also provide flat cool areas and pet cooling mats for them to lay on. 

Make sure that your cat has plenty of access to clean, fresh drinking water. This is one of the most important ways to keep them cool and to protect them from dehydration. So, do provide plenty of bowls around the house and garden and replenish them with cool water regularly, so your cat doesn’t have to venture too far to find a drink. Many cats prefer to drink running water, so you might want to think about acquiring a pet water fountain. You can also provide ice cubes to bat around the floor, give frozen cat treats, or even pop a few ice cubes in their water bowl. 

Some cats can be at risk of sunburn too. Although fur is a great sun barrier, cats can still get sunburnt especially on thin or sparsely furred areas, or areas with no fur, such as the ears and nose. Cats that are hairless, such as Sphynx cats, or are light in colour such as ginger or white cats, are especially at risk. Protecting these cats’ skin from sunburn is vital, as it can lead to a skin cancer called Squamous Cell Carcinoma. When the weather is hot, remember to protect the exposed areas on your cat, such as ear tips and noses, with a pet-safe sun cream too, especially if they might be more vulnerable to sun damage.  

It is so important to keep your cat out of areas that are likely to get very hot on warm days, such as sheds, greenhouses, summerhouses, conservatories, porches, cars, and caravans. Always check before you close doors on these areas and vehicles, to avoid shutting any pets in. 

Some breeds of long-haired cats are more likely to overheat in the summer. A good regular grooming routine is important all year round but is especially helpful and important for long-haired cats in the summer months. A daily brush will help make sure that your cat’s thick undercoat and excess fur is removed, which can help them feel a lot cooler. Some heavily coated breeds or cats that have become severely matted may require to be clipped out and de-matted under a safely monitored sedation procedure at your vet practice. Flat-faced breeds with short noses like Persians or British Shorthairs, can have difficulty breathing because of the shape of their faces, and they therefore struggle to cool themselves down in hot weather. Older cats or cats with health problems are generally more sensitive to the heat and so are more prone to serious problems like heatstroke. It can be safer to keep older cats monitored closely and keep them mainly in the cool of the house in the heat of the summer. Overweight cats carry extra fat tissue, which puts their body under additional strain and insulates them, making it much harder for them to cool down. 

It is important for all cat owners to also be aware of the risks, signs, and symptoms of heatstroke, so that veterinary assistance can be sought if needed.  

Symptoms of heatstroke include Lethargy and apparent low energy; Excess salivation and Drooling; Dry mouth and gums; Vomiting; Diarrhoea; Panting and mouth breathing; Unsteadiness and Collapse. 

If you're worried that your cat is suffering from any of the signs or symptoms of heatstroke, do contact your vet immediately, as with dogs, this is an emergency. 

For a happy healthy summer ahead, do keep your lovely cat’s cool! 

 

Alison Laurie-Chalmers, 
Senior Consultant, 
Crown Vets. 

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