By Dr. Irfan Ahmed*
Cats love the sunny and warm weather as we do. At times temperature gets extreme and may cause serious issues with cats; here are a few steps that can keep your cat safe and comfortable through higher temperature.
As humans, Cats are also at risk of dehydration and heatstroke; these are serious conditions that can lead to illness and even death.
Make sure your cat has plenty of freshwater. Replacing the water a few times a day can encourage your cat to drink, and placing multiple earthen bowls around the house and garden will ensure that water is within easy reach.
Most cats will enjoy a snooze in the sunshine and then retire to a shady spot when they get too hot. Ensure your cat has a few cool and shady spots to retreat to around the house and garden. Also, don’t be surprised if you find your cat lying on the tiles on the kitchen floor or the bathroom. Tiles and materials such as porcelain keep cool and so cats will gravitate towards them when they are a little too hot.
Opening the windows to let in a breeze can help provide a cool area to rest. Get a small box fan and set it on the floor or near an open window. If your cat gets too hot, they will appreciate the breeze blowing through their fur to keep cool. If your house is not air-conditioned during the summer heat, try putting a frozen water bottle in front of the fan.
Elevate your cat’s bed. Cloth-covered plastic frames with short legs will allow your cat to sleep in comfort during hot weather, and the air passing under the bed will help your cat cool.
CREATE A RETREAT
Cats are clever when it comes to comfort and they will seek out places such as the bath or sink as these often stay cool even when it’s hot outside. You could also try creating a cool and darkened indoor retreat for them to sleep in and feel safe. A top tip is to place a cardboard box on its side and position it somewhere cool and quiet in the house, such as behind a chair or on a cool surface like a wooden floor. Line it with a breathable natural fabric such as a cotton towel.
Brush your cat often. A well-groomed tangle-free coat will help to keep your cat cool. If your cat has long fur, consider professional clipping to help ease their suffering during summer. White and light-coloured cats also have very pale skin and can be subject to sunburn. Talk to your veterinarian about whether giving your cat a clip could help to keep them cool in the hot weather. Another option is to have only the tummy clipped, which offers sun protection as well as cooling.
You may also want to try taking a damp washcloth or paper towel and stroking your cat with it. Most cats don’t mind a little bit of moisture on their fur, especially when they notice how it can cool them off. In fact, one of the ways cats cool themselves down is by grooming, which is nothing more than wetting their fur with saliva rather than water.
If you’re going to be away all day put three or four ice cubes into your cat’s water bowl before you head out.
Fill a small drink bottle with cold water and leave it in the freezer overnight. In the morning, wrap the bottle in a towel and put it in your cat’s favourite lounging spot. Don’t fill the bottle to the top, as the water expands when it freezes and may pop the bottle open.
Always check rooms facing the sun and garages before shutting doors. Cats can find their way inside if they are looking for a shady spot to cool down in, and it is best to avoid trapping them inside as they could become dehydrated.
Ensure that your cat is microchipped so that if it ends up locked in some-one else’s shed or wanders off, you can both be reunited as quickly as possible.
Symptoms of heatstroke include excessive panting; lethargy; droo-ling; fever; vomiting; collapse or unconsciousness. If you are worried about your cat or suspect they are suffering from heatstroke, please call the vet.
The warmest part of a cat’s body is their tummies, the pads of their paws, their armpits, under their chin and on the outside of their ears. Although most cats hate getting wet, try dampening a cloth with cold water and gently stroking your cat with it from their head and down their back.
* Dr. Irfan Ahmed is a Cat Behaviour Consultant. He also runs Mallika’s Cattery – a Cat Boarding Service in Bangalore.