Keeping cats cool in the summer
With the record-breaking temperatures of last years summer, there’s no surprise that heatwaves are now thirty times more likely in the UK. It’s not just us humans affected but our fluffy favourites are most at risk. So, think ahead and plan how you can keep cats cool in the summer at home or away on holiday…
Keeping cool at home
Being a cat owner, you’ll know that they cannot sweat like us mere humans. To help keep their bodies cool and temperature regulated, felines will groom their coat and sweat from the paw pads and nose. While you’ll often find them basking in the sunshine, cats can succumb to heatstroke in a matter of minutes so it is imperative to keep a close eye on them during the warmer days. Some of the key symptoms of heatstroke in cats are dribbling, excessive panting and loss of energy. As soon as you notice, move them to a shaded spot and call your vet.
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Some of the easiest and most effective ways to keep your cat cool in the summer are to:
- Keep water fresh and constantly available – maybe throw a few ice cubes in their bowl too!
- Make sure there’s a cool, shaded area for them to relax in
- If possible, leave the windows open on the ‘vent’ setting
- Cooling mats or tuck a freezer ice pack beneath their bed
- Remember to not leave wet food out for too long in rising temperatures. Bacteria are easily spread by flies and can cause illness
- Consider setting up a fan for those stuffy days when you’re at work and unable to leave windows open
- Up their grooming regime. Teasing out that undercoat will help them keep cool
In the garden
Being horizontal in a lovely warm patch is a favourite pastime for many felines. Even though they’ll never tell you they’ve had enough sun (they’re cats after all) you should still make an attempt to check their temperature and move them to a cooler spot. You could simply pop a thermometer next to them to check they aren’t roasting – you’ll be shocked at their body temperature even on a balmy afternoon!
Another factor to consider is the chance of stowaway’s in greenhouses and sheds. While either will be an inviting location for a cosy catnap, temperatures can soar and if the cat is accidentally trapped inside, they could become fatally unwell.
Any cat is susceptible to heatstroke, however, long-haired or flat-faced breeds like Persians and Himalayan cats are more vulnerable. Kittens and older cats are also at a higher risk as are cats with respiratory or cardiovascular diseases. Heatstroke or hyperthermia is a common issue for cats during the hotter days of summer. Watch your cat for signs of over-heating, including breathing difficulties, vomiting, red tongue and loss of energy. As soon as you recognise these signs, encourage your cat to have a drink, put them in the shade and place a damp towel on them. Other signs of heatstroke in cats to look out for include excessive panting, dribbling and if they’ve collapsed.
More than anything, remember it is summer. Revel in it. Enjoy it. As before you know it we will be complaining about the snow, rain, wind or all three. Just enjoy it with an eye on your fur-covered friend’s body temperature.
This article is for guidance only and if you have any concerns about your pet you should always seek the advice of a qualified vet.
If in doubt contact your veterinary practice
And always keep your vet's phone number handy - just in case!