How do I protect my cat against a heat wave?
Not only people suffer from the heat, cats and other pets can also experience problems during the summer due to the heat. To make it comfortable for them, we as owners can take various measures; both preventive precautions and steps that actively help the cat in its quest to cool down. In this way, the heat becomes somewhat tolerable for our beloved four-legged friends and we can prevent illness or even death of our cat from the heat.
Every year there are periods when the temperatures are very high. These are not only difficult periods for humans, but also for our cats. Especially older or very young cats are at risk of becoming ill (or even dying) during this time. However, with some targeted measures we can help them get through a period of heat.
First and foremost, as an owner, we can take some precautions to ensure that our cats aren’t overexposed to the heat or its harmful effects.
Movement causes a cat’s body to warm up. Therefore, do not force your cat to exercise a lot, even if it has to lose weight. Just like humans, your animals can overheat with too much exercise during a heat wave.
Make sure your cat has plenty of room and that it has access to areas with plenty of shade. Ideally, you keep your cat indoors between 10am and 1pm (hottest time of the day). Even if your cat does not want to move much, a cat will always look for cooler places during a heat wave. For example, if you have a cool cellar, leave the door open if necessary. This way your cat can find some cooling there. Do not leave a cat or other animal (or human) alone in a car in warm weather, not even for a very short period of time. Cars heat up very quickly in summer and the temperature can reach 50 degrees in warm weather. This is because the metal construction and windows create a conservatory effect. Other places such as conservatories or warm attics are also not places where you should leave a cat in warm weather. So make sure you don’t accidentally lock your cat there.
When you brush your cat regularly, the excess loose hair is removed. As a result, your cat will retain less heat against his or her skin and therefore suffer less from the heat. This is especially important with long-haired cats, which will shed a relatively large amount of hair in periods of heat. Regular combing therefore ensures that your cat builds up less heat in his / her coat.
Of course, sunscreen does not directly help against the heat or its effects, but it does help against the harmful effects of the sun. Cats can also get sunburn, just like humans. White cats are especially sensitive to this. Make sure to cover your ears, nose, and eyelids with a cat-appropriate sunscreen. Otherwise, cats can develop skin cancer in these areas over time. So lubrication is the message.
Offer cooling to your cat
In addition to the above preventive measures, you can also actively offer cooling to your cat. This way the cat will lose excess heat more easily.
The most important thing in warm weather is that you always provide your four-legged friend with fresh water. Cats try to partially regulate their body temperature through their mouths. If they have too little water, they will dehydrate and can dry out. You can give cats cold water to drink. This will help them cool down further. The cats also benefit from some water that is caressed over their bodies. Do this in moderation, such as by wetting your hand and then stroking your pet. A shower or bath can help some cats. However, don’t force the cat to swim or take a bath or shower if she doesn’t want to. Most cats panic because of this. When you apply moisture to the body, it is important to pay close attention to the water temperature. Extremely cold water can cause an (older) cat to go into shock.
Some cats will also enjoy drinking or playing in a special drinking fountain. They can also easily dip their feet in a drinking fountain. The paws are next to the mouth / nose, the main place for cats to lose their heat.
Just like water, ice can play an important role in cooling down your cat. Ice cream does this in two ways: First, you can put a bottle of water in the freezer and, when the water is frozen, place it near your cat’s sleeping area. In this way, this bottle spreads a colder air that will please your cat on hot days. Always keep enough distance so that your cat does not have to lie directly against the ice. Do not put the ice on your cat, because this cold can hurt the animal. A few inches of distance is sufficient.
Cats can also eat / lick ice cream. Ice in the form of frozen water is preferred (e.g. ice cubes). It’s cold and contains no dangerous or unhealthy ingredients. It is best to place the ice in their drinking bowl of water so that there is less chance of the ice cube freezing to the cat’s tongue. Ice cream (for example ice cream and sorbet) can also be given, but has several drawbacks. First and foremost, the sugars in the ice cream are not healthy for the cat, in addition, some cats cannot tolerate certain fruits / ingredients (for example alcohol, raisins and chocolate) and they can therefore become very sick from certain types of ice cream. In any case, most adult cats are already lactose intolerant. It is therefore not recommended to give (ice cream) ice cream or sorbet to your cat for consumption.
Cooling mats and cooling bands
There are also special cooling mats and cooling straps for cats (and dogs). These work like a typical ‘cold pack’. You put them in the freezer and then tie them around your cat’s neck (in case of a cooling band) or put them on the floor in case of a cooling mat. The use of cooling mats is preferable because it leaves the cat the freedom to seek out the cold and stay there as long as it is on. A cooling band can be experienced as difficult by the cat.
A fan is ideal in the fight against the heat. Cats will also enjoy the cooling that a fan provides. However, make sure your cat is not overexposed to the wind. Like humans, animals can suffer from a fan that is aimed directly and very close to them. Just think of dry eyes or sore throat. Therefore, do not let the fan blow directly onto your cat’s sleeping place. It is better to turn on the turn mode on the fan or aim the fan just next to the sleeping place.
Also make sure that the blades of the fan are not accessible to your cat. The curious specimens might stick their legs between them ??
Do you have an electric dehumidifier that you use during the winter to combat mold? Then you can also use it during the summer. Dry heat is much more tolerable for humans and animals than moist heat. Switch on your dehumidifier during the warm months. This creates a much more pleasant environment for your cat. Both the fan and the dehumidifier are safe to use when you are at home, however, due to the risk of fire, it is not recommended to leave these devices on while you are away. At those times, ice and sufficient drinking water should provide cooling.