Keeping cats cool in hot weather

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Hot summer weather may be welcome, but some cats struggle in the heat – with limited capacity to cool off by sweating, they can overheat quite easily. Because hyperthermia and heatstroke are emergencies, you should find out now where your local Healthy Pet Club practice is, in case you need a vet in a hurry.

Keeping your cat cool

These strategies will help keep your cat cool during a Heatwave:

  • Ensure that fresh water is always available
  • Provide a cool, well-ventilated space for your cat
    • If they are outside, make sure shade is available from morning to evening
    • If they are indoors, use the air conditioning, open windows or use a fan to cool off rooms
      • Placing a bottle of frozen water in front of a fan may help
  • Make sure your cat’s coat has no tangles or mats (matted hair traps heat), and consider clipping a long-haired cat
    • You could try clipping the tummy region only
  • Stroke your cat with a damp towel
  • Wrap an ice pack in a towel and put it in their favourite sleeping spot
    • You can make an icepack by freezing a water-filled plastic bottle; remember that water expands when it freezes, so don’t fill it to the top, and squeeze the air out before you freeze it
  • Check sheds, greenhouses and cars before closing the door; a cat trapped inside could end up with heatstroke
  • Never leave your cat in a car, even with the windows open – temperatures inside cars can rise very rapidly, with fatal results.

Recognising hyperthermia and heatstroke

The signs of heatstroke are listed below – your cat may show only some of these symptoms.

  • Panting/distressed breathing
  • Drooling/salivating
  • Very red or pale gums
  • Agitation/restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weakness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness/staggering
  • Seizures
  • Collapse/unconsciousness.

What to do if your cat is too hot

Heatstroke can kill cats, so you must act quickly. Your aim is to get your pet’s body temperature back to normal – but don’t use ice or very cold water as this may exacerbate the problem. Here is a checklist:

  • Call your vet and do as they say
  • They will probably advise you to:
    • Move your cat to somewhere cool
    • Offer water to drink
    • Spray cool water onto your cat’s fur
    • Use a fan or any available breeze to help your cat to cool off
    • If possible, continue this treatment while transporting the cat to the vet, which you should do immediately.

Cats at increased risk

Any cat can get too hot. However, predisposing factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Breeding
    • Flat-faced breeds (e.g., Persians, Himalayans)
    • Long-haired breeds
  • Respiratory/heart disease
  • Age
    • Young/old
  • Excessive exercise
  • Dehydration.

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