Much like us humans, cats need special care when it comes to hot, sunny weather. Sunburn, heat exhaustion and dehydration can affect indoor as well as outdoor cats, so make sure you and your cat are fully prepared for the summer heat.
Cats love the warmth but the hotter it gets, the more likely they are to suffer from heat-related illnesses. There are lots of preventative measures you can take though to help keep your cat safe and healthy during the summer months.
White cats or cats with white ears and faces are particularly susceptible to sunburn. Apply high factor sun cream liberally to their ears and faces, as you can't trust them to stay in the shade! When the sun is at its strongest and you're able to, it's also advisable to keep your cat indoors to protect against serious sun damage.
When it's extremely hot, you can help your cat avoid sunstroke by keeping her indoors in a cool room. Rubbing her down with a damp towel will also help, as will immersing her feet in a tub of cool water and wrapping a cold compress under your cat's neck. Try wrapping a plastic bag of frozen peas in a towel and placing it in her bed for a cool spot to lie in. The peas will naturally rearrange themselves to fit her contours, providing a 'custom spa' for cooling off.
If you do suspect your cat has heatstroke, look out for these early symptoms:
- Anxiety, possibly demonstrated by pacing
- Increased heartbeat
- Respiratory distress or hyperventilation (breeds with flat noses may exhibit this earlier because of compromised airways)
- Dark red gums
- Increased internal body temperature (your cat's internal temperature should be between 100.5 and 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. A body temperature in excess of 104 degrees is a definite warning sign
If your cat shows any of the signs above, cool her down as quickly as possible by immersing her in cool water and then wrapping her in wet towels. Then take her immediately to the vet as, in its extreme cases, heatstroke can be fatal.
Dehydration can seriously affect cats so make sure you leave plenty of water in several locations around the house once the weather heats up. Also, remember to keep replenishing it whenever you see it getting low. Some cats drink less when the weather gets hot but you can encourage them to drink more by adding an ice cube to their bowls and keeping the water fresh and clean. Gently coaxing them by taking their water and placing it beside them may also do the trick.
Providing Shelter Inside
Inside cats need to have plenty of shelter from the blazing sun, so if you tend to leave the blinds fully open all day, it may be wise to think again. The sun's rays can quickly heat up a room leaving cats with little shelter during daylight hours, so if you must leave some of the shades open, opt for just one room and leave the remainder of the shades shut. This will keep the temperature down and give your cat some much-needed shade.