British summer has officially started, with the hottest day of the year on Saturday reaching over 30 degrees in some areas. And while most of us will be taking the opportunity to enjoy the heat and the sunshine, our cats might not be having so much fun.
Hot weather can be dangerous for cats, especially young kittens, elderly cats, and sick cats. The risks include dehydration, heatstroke, and even sunburn. Here’s how to protect your pets as the temperature rises.
Sunburn: This might not be the first thing you think of, but your cats can sunburn just like you!
- Cats that have light coloured fur are especially at risk
- Ears and noses burn easily
- Sunburn can increase the risk of skin cancer
- Ask your vet for a suitable product, as not all are safe for cats.
Food and Water: Most cats will go off their food a little during warmer weather. This is normal, but if your cat stops eating altogether its important that you take them to the vet.
- Feed wet food instead of dry. Cats naturally get most of their water from their food.
- Add a splash of water on the food to encourage your cat to drink.
- Provide plenty of water bowls and keep the water fresh and clean. Place them around the house so your cat always has access to fresh water.
- Try a drinking fountain – many cats prefer to drink from running water.
Keeping Cool: There are lots of easy ways to help your pet stay cool in warmer weather.
- Provide shady spots for your pet to rest
- Use a fan to circulate air. Don’t point fans directly at your cat though!
- Open the windows. If your cats are indoor only, use child locks to restrict how far the window can open.
- Try a cooling mat – you can buy these at most pet shops
- Wrap an ice pack in a towel to make a nice cool spot to lie
- Wipe your cat down regularly with a damp cloth
- Try playing with water! A small paddling pool and some toy fish can provide endless fun for many cats, and it keeps them cool.
Spotting problems: If you cat becomes dehydrated or over-heated it’s essential that you act quickly. If you spot any signs, you should take your cat to the vet right away. Dehydration and heat stroke can be fatal, and cats can become vet sick very quickly. The signs of dehydration or heat stroke are not always very obvious, but can include include:
- Being lethargic or unusually sleepy
- Being floppy
- Breathing fast
- Stumbling when they walk
- Panting like a dog
- Loss of appetite
- Eyes looking dry or sunken
- Mouth looking dry and gums looking pale
This video from Kitten Lady shows how to check for dehydration, and also shows a way of giving your cat some fluids if you can’t get to the vet right away. We would always encourage you to seek vet treatment – never try to treat your cat on your own. This is just a stop gap until you can get to the vet.
We hope this helps you keep your cats comfortable and safe through the summer. Now put your feet up, grab a cold drink, and enjoy the sunshine! Preferably with a cat on your lap, of course.