A quick trawl of the internet brings up plenty of news stories about dogs dying from heatstroke, but hardly any about cats.
Our feline friends are either well adept to dealing with the hot weather or just sensible. Indeed most cats choose to head out at night when its cooler instead of being dragged out by their owners for a walk in the heat of the day, which dogs often are.
That said cat charity, Cats Protection[i], recently warned about the dangers of sunburn and even skin cancer if cats are over-exposed, after a 13 year old cat in Wales had to have the tops of her ears removed following a skin cancer diagnosis.
So with the heatwave showing no signs of letting up, we’re offering a few tips for keeping your cat cool and safe in the sunshine this summer:
Stay out of the sun
The most obvious tip is to keep cats indoors during the hottest part of the day (11 am until 4:30 pm). As cats generally sleep during the day and hunt at night limiting outside access should be fairly easy. If you are out all day just close the cat flap and windows and ensure they have a litter tray to do their business. If you are in just make sure back doors are closed and windows just ajar and not big enough for them to escape through.
Provide clean, fresh water daily
You are probably already fastidious about ensuring your cat always has clean fresh water, for fear of them turning their nose up, but in hot weather it is essential to make sure they have a full clean bowl at all times to encourage them to drink enough. You can even pop a few ice cubes in now and then to keep it cool which many cats will welcome.
Keeping the house cool
A cool house can provide a welcome respite from the heat for both owner and cat so keep the house as cool as possible in very hot weather. Curtains and blinds should be kept shut. It could be worth investing in black out blinds to keep the glare of the sun out too. A fan or two might help and if you really want to bring the temperature down a portable air conditioning unit is a great investment during a long heatwave.
Put on sunscreen
As we noted above cats can get skin cancer and light coloured cats in particular are prone to sunburn on sensitive areas such as noses and ears. If your cat is light coloured or even just as a precaution to any cat outside on sunny days you can apply sunscreen. There are specially formulated pet sunscreens on the market that can be used, but don’t use sunscreen meant for humans as this can be toxic to cats.
There are a number of products that you can buy such as cooling mats and ice packs to put in bedding to keep cats cool. You could also make your own ice pack by freezing a bottle of water and wrapping it in a towel and placing in the cat’s bed. Fans can be useful to have on in a few rooms to keep the air flowing and give your cat a bit of breeze. You could even use a hand fan on the cat if they are willing. Making some icy treats for your cat can also be a good way to cool them down. Try freezing a mix of water and tuna in an ice cube tray.
Finally keeping your cat well groomed, especially if they are long haired will help cats stay cool.
During hot weather it’s also important to keep an extra eye on your cat to spot any signs of heatstroke early, which include dribbling, excessive panting and collapse. Should you suspect they have heatstroke move them to a cool room, dampen their coat using a cool flannel or towel and seek veterinary advice as soon as you can.
If you are going on holiday consider using a homesitter to stay in your home and look after your cat while you’re away, pass on these tips so they can ensure your cat stays cool and comfortable until you return.
If you are looking for a homesitter this summer contact Homesitters on 01296 630 730.
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