6 tips for keeping your cat cool during a heatwave

Cat Health

Below are some useful tips for keeping your cat cool during a summer heatwave.

Cats are very sensitive to temperature and according to a 2006 study by the National Research Council, the thermoneutral zone for a domestic cat is 30–38°C (NRC 2006). This is a lot warmer than humans generally find comfortable especially here in the Northern Hemisphere where summers tend to be mild with average daily temperatures ranging from 16°C – 18°C during the summer months June to August. 

On the rare occasion we experience a prolonged period of high temperatures, cats are often quite comfortable and will even seek out ‘hot spots’ on window sills or in gardens to laze in the sun.

Unlike dogs, cats do not panic when their body temperature increases. Instead, they will seek a quiet cool area such as a hard floor in a shaded room and become very still and calm so as not to further increase their core temperature by over exerting themselves.

With the mercury consistently hitting over 30°C this past week, even our cool, calm and collected feline friends are feeling the heat. Here are some tips on how you can help keep your cat cool.

Tips to keep your cat cool

1. Prevent dehydration

Cats don’t drink much as they get most of their fluids from their food but it is essential to provide a fresh water source for them both inside and out. If your cat is fed dry food then access to water is even more important as they won’t be getting any of that valuable moisture from their food. If your cat becomes dehydrated then it can lead to serious health issues so make sure to do the following to guard against this:

  • Provide access to multiple water bowls
  • Refresh water regularly
  • Add an ice cube to the water to keep it cool (some bowls have space beneath to add ice)

2. Create a retreat

  • Cats are sensible and will often seek out a cool and shaded spot themselves but you can help by providing sheltered areas. A parasol can create a shaded area outside in the garden where they can join you and enjoy a fresh breeze.
  • Stone floors, baths and basins make excellent cool sleeping areas so make sure your cat has access to these if possible.
  • You can also purchase cooling pads to put in your cat’s sleeping area (do they sell them for humans!?)

3. Keep Calm

  • During hot weather, your cat is unlikely to want to play but if they do move their toys into a cool area.
  • Discourage young children from picking up your cat and carrying it around in hot weather.
  • Try to maintain a calm and quiet environment so your cat can relax.

4. Damp towels

Cats generally don’t like getting wet so only use this technique if your cat will tolerate it. The warmest part of a cat’s body is their tummies, the pads of their paws, their armpits, under their chin and on the outside of their ears.

  • Dampening a cloth with cold water and gently stroking your cat with it from their head and down their back can help disperse heat.
  • Wetting your cat’s ears and paws with your hand can also help to cool them off.
  • If your cats like to play with water, let the tap run or provide a washing up bowl with a few inches of water, add a bottle cap or cork for them to play with and encourage then to put their paws in.

 

5. Stay indoors

  • Much like the advice we get, stay out of the sun between the hours of 12 – 3 pm, keep your cat cool inside during peak temperatures.
  • If you have outdoor cats then it is advisable to encourage them to stay inside during the hottest part of the day.
  • Ensure there are shaded areas in your garden or outside area if you can’t keep your cat inside.

6. Travel precautions

It is unlikely you’d need to travel with your cat in your car during hot spells but just in case you do here is some advice.

  • Obvious but… please NEVER leave them in the car for any length of time.
  • Make sure their carriers are secure, shaded and allow air to circulate, wire cages with a towel placed on one side are best.
  • Take water and a handheld travel fan with you in case you experience an unexpected delay.

Spotting heatstroke

Medically known as hyperthermia, heatstroke is a life-threatening medical condition in which your cat’s internal organs (liver, kidneys, lungs, heart and brain) begin to shut down as a result of elevated body temperature caused by high temperatures and humidity.

Symptoms of heatstroke in cats can include:

  • Rapid panting
  • Bright red tongue
  • Dark red gums
  • Salivating (drooling)
  • Weakness
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting (possibly with blood)
  • Diarrhoea (possibly with blood)
  • Bleeding from the nose

If you notice any of the above symptoms call your vet immediately for advice.

The tips outlined above should help to prevent heatstroke but early warning signs are panting and licking. If you notice your cat doing this during hot weather, move them to a cool area immediately and implement the damp cloth technique to help them cool off. A fan can also help speed up the cooling off process.

In severe cases of heatstroke, the cat may already be unconscious or unable to move, if this is the case they need immediate medical attention.

Cats at higher risk of heatstroke

Any cat can develop heatstroke however some are at greater risk:

  • Brachycephalic breeds with short faces such as British Shorthair, Persians, Himalayans, Scottish Fold and Exotic Shorthair
  • Old cats
  • Very young cats
  • Sick cats
  • Obese cats
  • Cats with heart conditions
  • Cats with medical conditions which affect breathing
  • Pregnant and nursing queens

Don’t let the warm weather stop you and your cat having fun, just be aware of their environment. If you looking for a neat solution for creating a quite area for your cat check out The Energy Pyramid Cat Home by Lovethybeast.

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