We all know that cats like it hot – cuddling under the covers, napping in toasty beds, and lounging in sunny windowsills. But with all that heat come summer concerns.
First of all, it’s good to know that cats don’t sweat the way we do and it’s its very important to watch for the signs of over exposure to heat. Cats can only sweat through the pads on their paws. This is why it is very important to make sure that in hot weather your cat has a way to stay cool. Here are some tips:
- Keep your house cool by drawing the blinds during the hottest times of the day. Use fans and/or air conditioning if you are able.
- Make sure your cat has a cool place to be – ventilation or moving air is very important. If the air is very still and warm use a small fan to get the air moving. Often cats will find cool places on their own – tile floors, sinks or bathtubs. Some cats will enjoy a damp towel laid over their favorite sleeping spot. You can also place an ice pack under the towel to provide a very cool spot.
- Make sure if the cat is outside they have shade and cool spots in the garden. Make sure they are not able to get trapped in a hot garden shed and/or crawl into a car.
- Never travel with your cat in a carrier in very hot weather. Your cat’s body temperature can rise dramatically. If you must travel with them, avoid the hottest times of the day and use the car’s air conditioning. NEVER leave them unattended.
- If your cat has a very thick or long coat consider having them groomed. Have you ever seen a cat with a “lion cut”? A lion cut is a charming hair style for cats in which the fur is clipped very short except for on the paws, tail and head. Brushing your cat will also help remove thick and matted fur that traps heat.
- Provide plenty of cool fresh water at all times for both indoor and outdoor cats. Add water to your cat’s food to provide extra moisture. This is important for all cats but especially important for cats living in hot and dry climates.
- Do not engage your pet in play or allow them to exercise and possibly become overheated.
Seek veterinary care at once of you notice the following signs of heatstroke:
- Nervous, distressed or agitated behavior
- Open mouth breathing and/or heavy panting
- Unsteady walking or staggering
The very first thing you must do, though, is get the cat to a cooler, well ventilated place. If you are not able to get them to the veterinarian quickly, begin to cool them gradually. Never pour cold water over the cat or submerge it in cold water as this may make matters worse. Gently spray the cat with cool water, especially over the head (while avoiding the face.) Seek the advice of a veterinarian and stay with the cat until they are well recovered. Once the crisis has passed, please make a plan to avoid such problems in the future!