In Calgary, it’s nearly summer, and for cat parents, that means having some strategies at the ready to prevent our kitties from becoming overheated.
1. Ice cubes in your cat’s water
Some cats love having ice cubes in their water for a cool treat on a hot day and/or batting around ice cubes. Make sure your cat has plenty of fresh, cool water at all times.
2. Damp towels and fans
On hot days, my old cat Sabrina absolutely loved having a damp towel rubbed down her entire body and then sitting/napping in front of a fan. If your cat will let you, also dampen their paw pads because cats sweat through their pads.
3. Brush out loose fur.
This is particularly important for long-haired kitties. Not having as much loose fur on their coat will help your cat stay cool.
4. Make your home cool for your kitty.
Draw curtains and lower blinds to block out the sun. Have windows open to bring in a breeze and fresh air. Turn on fans and/or air conditioning as needed. Have cool, shaded kitty hiding spots in your home.
5. Don’t leave your cat in a hot car!
Just as with small children and dogs, never leave your cat in a hot car or a car that could become hot. Cats are susceptible to heatstroke and death from extreme heat. Make sure any pet carrier you use provides shade and allows for fresh air.
6. Know the signs of heatstroke in cats.
Heatstroke is a being’s inability to regulate body temperature when exposed to too much sunlight and heat.
According to Walks’ N’ Wags, heatstroke signs are as follows in increasing order of severity:
- panting and brick-red gums
- increased heart rate
- increased temperature
- pinpoint bruising
If heatstroke isn’t caught with the above, the signs progress to
- difficultly breathing
- blue gums and tongue
- pulse weakens
- respiration ceases
This is a medical emergency that requires you to take immediate action to lower your cat’s temperature. According to Walk ‘N’ Wags, you should
- place the cat in a cool, shaded area
- spray the cat with water from a hose
- use a fan to encourage the cooling process, but ensure the cat doesn’t become too cold
- encourage the cat to drink to replace lost body fluids
- stop cooling when the cat’s temperature reaches about 39.5 Celsius or 103.1 Fahrenheit because you don’t want to induce hypothermia
- dry the cat when the cooling process is done
- don’t use ice packs or anything extremely cold on the skin; this can cause damage/shock
The above treatment also applies to dogs.
I would highly recommend contacting your vet or animal urgent care centre if your cat has heatstroke and after you’ve treated them per the above protocol.
7. If you walk your cat or let them outside, only do so in the early morning or late evening.
This will allow your cat exercise outside but won’t expose them to the hottest parts of the day.
8. Cats can get sunburns!
Just as with humans, exposed skin on cats can get sunburned and increase their risk of skin cancer. The nose, lips, and ears are particularly at risk for sunburn in cats. Human sunscreen is not safe for cats, so if you feel your cat could use sunscreen, discuss it with your vet.