Your cat is more than just a cuddly friend to snuggle up with on the sofa – they’re a member of the family. But just like dogs, they may need help keeping cool during a heatwave to prevent health problems.
From minimising their outside time and recognising the signs of overheating, to ensuring they get enough water, our guide contains useful cat safety tips to help your loveable feline friend stay relaxed in the hot weather.
How do cats cool down?
Luckily, cats are already good at regulating their body temperature, as their fur naturally helps slow down heat absorption and prevent sun damage. They’ve also evolved to cool themselves down using a few different methods.
Cats instinctively know not to over-exert themselves when it’s warm. This helps them avoid overheating, maintaining their internal body temperature of around 38°C.
Another way is by rubbing themselves up against, or lying on, something cold. For instance, they may find pavement that's been in the shade and lie on it if they’re outside and get too warm.
They can also cool down when grooming themselves by licking their fur. The saliva from their tongues touches their skin and evaporates gradually, cooling that patch of skin – similar to how sweat works for humans.
Signs your cat is overheating
However, some cats – whether because they’re older, have health issues or get taken by surprise by the warm weather – can get too hot.
If your cat is overheating on warmer days, there are a few early signs to look out for. Recognising the symptoms means you can quickly act and cool them down before it gets serious:
- Your cat becomes restless as they look for a cool spot
- They begin drooling, panting or excessively groom themselves
When they display any of these symptoms, this could be an early sign of heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- Faster pulse rate and rapid breathing
- Lethargy or reluctance to stand
- Increased redness of mouth and tongue
- Tremors or seizures
If your cat shows any of the above, call your vet immediately.
Some cats – whether because they’re older, have health issues or get taken by surprise by the warm weather – can get too hot.
How to keep cats cool
If your cat goes outdoors, it’s impossible to keep an eye on them all the time. However, there are things you can do to help them stay cool:
- Keep refreshing their water. Ensuring your cat has fresh water will encourage them to drink. Top their bowls up every few hours. According to the RSPCA you can also add some ice cubes to their water bowl if it’s particularly hot.
- Cool them down with a damp cloth. Wet a cloth, wring all the excess water out so it’s damp, and gently wipe around your cat’s neck and back to help them cool down. Don’t force them though, as this will only make them more agitated.
- Create a relaxing shaded spot. Place a bed outdoors in a shaded space, with a few cat toys to encourage them to stay in the shade. If you can, keep them indoors or in this space from 10am until 4pm, when the sun is at its strongest.
- Brush them daily. Excess fur can make your cat overheat unnecessarily, so regular brushing can help them cool down. This is particularly useful if your cat has long hair.
- Keep inside cool. Having fans in the house to keep the air circulating will help your cat find cooler spots if it needs it.
How to encourage your cat to drink
Depending on the size of your cat, they should be getting around 100-125ml of water per five pounds of their body weight .
But, some cats aren’t too fond of drinking from a bowl, which makes it difficult to increase their water intake when it gets hotter.
Some experts believe this is instinct. In the wild, big cats favour running water to stop them getting sick by drinking stagnant water. So when your cat prefers the tap to the bowl, this might be the reason.
You can encourage your cat to drink more in these simple ways:
- Put water into dry food. Mix water into your cat’s canned or dried food to add a little extra nourishment – try different amounts of water to see what your cat prefers.
- Give them wet food. Switch your cat’s meals over to wet food, consult the advice of your vet first, to increase the fluids in your cat’s diet. Again, see if they’re receptive to it and go from there.
- Use more than one bowl. Sometimes cats are very particular with where they’ll drink from. Many don’t like drinking with their back to the room, for example. Place 2 or 3 bowls around to give them more choice.
- Freeze treats in an ice cube. Turn drinking water into a fun game. Put one of your feline friend’s favourite treats in an ice cube tray, fill with water and freeze. Place them in a bowl for them and they’ll have to lick the cube to get the treat inside.
LV= pet insurance can give you the peace of mind your cat is covered over the summer months and beyond. Vet fees, lost pet advertisements and holiday cancellation cover can all be included in a policy.
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