With the summer comes the problem of heat: here’s how to help our cats avoid heat stroke in a few steps.
Summer is synonymous with beautiful days to spend outdoors: a pleasant pastime even for our 4-legged friends. But what are the risks of being exposed to sunlight for too long? Like us humans, cats could also be victims of heatstroke. So it is our duty to protect them from any risks and prevent the summer heat with a few simple remedies. Here’s what they are.
Hot: which cat breeds are most at risk
Not all cats are the same, in fact there are those who suffer more or less from the heat. Of course it is not just a matter of age, but a lot also depends on the furry coat that covers them: in fact, a particularly hairy cat such as the Maine Coon, the Norwegian Forest Cat or the Persian is particularly exposed to this risk. In short, when cats have a very thick coat it is advisable to be more careful since the body temperature can rise rapidly, considering the fact that they do not have the possibility of expelling heat by sweating. Furthermore, the same conformation of the muzzle, a little flattened, prevents them from releasing the heat properly and without the risk of accumulating too much of it. So how can we help our cat friends to put up with it, especially those who have very thick fur? Just follow a few simple tips.
How to avoid heatstroke in cats
The first advice to follow is of course to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun: cats really like to relax by being ‘kissed’ by the sun’s rays. But you have to be careful not to overdo it! Cats in the house must always have shaded spaces available to be able to find cool and refreshment when they feel like it. But here’s what else we can do to prevent their body from overheating.
Wet the legs
As already stated, cats do not sweat, but have some areas of the body from which they disperse heat. One of them is located at the base of the legs, or in the fingertips. The soft pink pads perform precisely this function. So if we want to lower their body temperature it will be enough to have a damp cloth available to wet them and always keep them well hydrated. We dip the cloth in fresh water and put it under the legs: it will certainly have an immediate refreshment.
Nutrition is also an excellent means of countering the heat. Among the most suitable wet and dry foods in summer there are certainly wet ones that contain a high percentage of water in them. We are wary of the price criterion when we buy food for our cats: it is important that the food is always of excellent quality and that it has the right properties for the health and well-being of our feline friends. So dry food banned!
Fresh water at will
Let’s make sure that our cat’s bowl is always full of fresh water and change it regularly. We can buy a metal bowl that keeps the water temperature better (let’s make sure that the edges are low to facilitate drinking). If we think we have to be away from home for several hours, let’s get water dispensers (there are the same ones for baby food too) that can act on our cat by touching them with his paw.
Even in the house it is important that the temperature is cool and constant. We keep curtains and shutters down during the hottest hours of the day (generally from 10:30 to 16:30), to create shaded spaces in the house. If we have the possibility to install a fan instead of the air conditioner it is better. In this way we could direct the jet of fresh air favoring the circulation of coolness throughout the room; the air conditioning on the other hand may be too cold for the cat to risk a cold.
Don’t let him out
It doesn’t mean that we have to keep him segregated at home, but certainly preventing him from going out in the hottest hours of the day can only do him good. Cats tend to search for shadows in the house by themselves, always managing to find the best spots. They can find refreshment in the bathroom, for example next to the sink or tub and all the tiled and ceramic areas of the house. Let’s leave him free to choose where he wants to stay: on the other hand we know that cats are very independent, even in this!
Don’t stress him out
Cats may not always have to play: resting on hot days is an excellent idea to avoid subjecting them to unnecessary physical stress. There is no need to make him waste energy, so encourage him to rest and dampen his enthusiasm in wanting to play at all costs. An expenditure of energy may not tire him but also cause him to reach an excessively high body temperature. To reduce stress and heat, you can wipe the body with a damp cloth: this will also help to calm down.
Heat stroke in cats: how to recognize it
A cat that reaches a very high body temperature has quite common symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, lethargy, exhaustion and lack of balance, but also hyperactivity and nervousness. You will notice that when they are in the throes of heatstroke, cats have very hot paw pads. To these symptoms are added reddened mucous membranes, fever, vomiting, bleeding and sometimes fatal shock. The first thing to do is to call the vet, and in the meantime move the cat to the shade. It is okay to cool the air with a fan, but avoid directing the jet of air right on our hot cat.
Can cats get burned?
As in dogs (and humans) the danger of sunburn is always around the corner. Cats also have particularly sensitive and delicate areas such as nose and ears. Those most at risk are white-haired cats since the color of the coat itself makes the skin more exposed to sunlight. Even in summer it is essential to take care of the cat’s coat, to prevent hairballs from accumulating on its coat and not protecting the skin.
Some advice for traveling with your cat in the summer
The choice of the carrier is extremely important both to face a long journey and to get to the vet for a visit. In short, it is important that during the summer, stops are made, that the cat drinks little water and eats at least three hours before embarking on the journey to avoid the onset of nausea and vomiting. It is good to leave it free to stretch its paws in some shady rest area, if we travel by car. Finally, we bring with us a cloth and some water to be able to freshen it up when it needs it. In any case, never leave the cat alone in the car, even for a short time and avoid traveling during the hottest hours of the day.