Keeping your cat cool in the dog days of summer is easier than you think. Cats, the feline embodiment of a solar deity, luxuriate in sun puddles soaking up enough rays to power a small appliance. But even avid sun-worshippers are vulnerable to the effects of hot weather including dehydration and heatstroke. Here are some tips to help cool cats beat the heat in the dog days of summer. #Coolcats
By Ramona Marek
Water. Always make sure your cat has access to plenty of fresh, clean, cool water throughout the day. Set up water stations in a variety of places in your home in locations away from food dishes. “Refresh several times a day if your water bowls are outside or if you do not have air conditioning. For a little bit of fun you can put ice cubes in the water that will keep it cool and provide playtime enrichment,” says Marci Koski, PhD, certified cat behavior and training consultant, owner of Feline Behavior Solutions.
Cool spot. Provide cool, shady spots in your home and yard, if your cat goes outside. Inside your home you’ll likely find your cat stretched out on tile, porcelain or concrete flooring to cool down. Some cats seek a shady corner or get away place, closed curtains create a shaded area. My cats retire to their carriers for a cat cave retreat. The carriers are in a shady corner, have plush cushions, are set up as a water station, and stay out all year. Bonus: they aren’t afraid to get in when it’s time to travel.
Air circulation. Open windows to create a breeze, especially in the early mornings and evenings. Again, drawing the curtains help keeps it cool. Dr. Koski advises to check the screens to make sure they don’t easily pop out of the window. Adding a fan also helps stir the air, especially if you don’t have air conditioning. Tip: put a frozen water bottle in front of the fan for chilled air.
Grooming. Brush your cat more often; this removes excess fur that lightens the coat and allows more air to flow the fur to keep cool. You may consider a summer clip for longhaired cats. White cats, cats with white ears and face, and pink skin are susceptible to sunburn. Keep these kitties out of direct sunlight during midday.
Cats naturally cool down by grooming themselves, the wet saliva evaporates which generates a cooling reaction, similar to what happens when we sweat. You may assist your cat in this activity by gently wiping a cool, damp (not dripping cold) towel across the body, tummy and top of the head.
Keep it chill. Limit playtime to cooler times of the day, this is especially important for kittens and senior cats who are at greater risk of heatstroke. “If the temperature is extra hot and not cooling down at night, wait until another day; it’s okay to miss a day of rigorous exercise,” says Dr. Koski. Give you cat a special chilled treat, a feline version of an ice cream truck. “You can give your cat ice cubes with treats in them (like catnip, or freeze tuna water in an ice tray) or make a wet-food catsicle,” suggests Dr. Koski.
Heatstroke. One of the most serious conditions in summer is heatstroke. Senior cats, kittens and cats with shortened faces and muzzles, like Persians, need extra precaution in hot, humid weather. Know the warning signs of heatstroke. Dr. Koski warns, “If you see your cat panting, drooling, vomiting, being excessively lethargic, has a fever, rapid pulse or collapses, get to your vet right away. Heatstroke is no joke—it can cause permanent organ damage or death.”
With a few warm weather precautions your feline sun-worshiper can be safe and have summer fun.