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How to Help Your Cat Cope with the Heat

 by jaime on 18 Jul 2014 |
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As we approach the middle of summer and the temperatures really begin to soar, spare a thought for your feline friend who may be suffering the effects of the heat much worse than you are…

Cats sweat through their paws so it can be difficult to detect when a cat is getting too hot. You may notice them groom themselves a lot more than usual because as the saliva on their fur dries and evaporates it aids in cooling them down. If it reaches 90 degrees (F) indoors, your cat will begin to pant, which is a sure-fire way to tell that they are really feeling the heat.

The best thing you can do for your cat when it gets really hot is to have a constant supply of cold, cool water and that there are plenty of shady locations for your feline to hang out in. In addition, there are some other methods you can adopt to help keep your kitty cool.

Tips for keeping cats cool
  • Wrap a bag of frozen peas or ice in a towel and place it somewhere for your cat to lie down on. The peas and ice move about and is quite comfortable for your cat.
  • Place a pan of ice in front of a fan and let it blow in your cat's direction, providing refreshing cool air.
  • Dampen some towels for your cat to lie down on.
  • If you have a long-haired cat, get them a summer suitable haircut, particularly on their bellies so they can cool off by lying on tiles.
  • Rub your cat down with wet hands or wet paper towels.
  • Groom them regularly to get rid of any hairballs. Grooming also helps to keep them cool.
  • Make an alcohol/water mix that you can rub them with.
  • Let your cat stand for a few minutes in 2 inches of cold water - they might not enjoy it at first though!
  • Keep your cat calm and don't get them to exert themselves too much.
  • Buy an automated water fountain or at least have a few bowls of fresh, cool water dotted inside and outside your home.
  • Play a game by getting your cat to chase ice cubes on the floor - fun and cooling at the same time!
For some cat owners, their overheating cats might refuse to drink water, making symptoms of dehydration much worse. It is very important that your cat keeps their fluid intake up so you may be forced to get involved. You achieve this by filling an eye dropper or syringe with water and drop a couple of drops into the corner of your cat's mouth. DON'T shoot the water in their because you may cause them to choke or for the water to enter their lungs instead.

A special mention goes to owners of white cats because they are the most at risk of becoming sunburnt and potentially developing skin cancer, particularly on their ears and nose. If you own a white cat, keep them out of the sun as much as you can and apply sunscreen to their most vulnerable areas. You can speak to your vet to get a recommendation on a cat-friendly sunscreen.

More than just hot: heatstroke

Your cat's temperature should be between 100.5 to 102.5 degrees (F). You would have to use a rectal or ear thermometer to check on this as that's the only way. If your cat gets very overheated they could be in danger of developing heatstroke...

Heatstroke is a fever brought on by the failure of the body's normal temperature regulation system due to being in overly high temperatures. It can have disastrous effects including organ dysfunction, so if you suspect your kitty is more than just a little hot, take them to the vet for immediate assistance so their body temperature can be regulated and receive IV fluids.

Signs and symptoms of heatstroke include:
  • Dehydration
  • Panting
  • Excessive salivation
  • Respiratory distress / hyperventilation
  • Seizures
  • Congested mucous membranes
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Dazed state
  • Coma
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea with blood in it
  • Anxiety or pacing
  • Lethargy
  • Dark red gums
If you believe your pet has heatstroke you need to take them to the vet, in the meantime you can help them by rubbing alcohol on their paws, use wet towels or place a fan towards your pet as you transport them. However it shouldn't be done continuously or for long periods of time because your pet's condition could quickly transform into hypothermia. And never immerse your pets in ice, although periodically placing ice on top of their head can help alleviate their condition.

Note: If your pet has heatstroke once, it is possibly more susceptible of developing it again.


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