Cats like to go out on their own, but the sweltering sun can cause problems, including dehydration and even sunburn.
There are precautions pet owners can take to help their four-legged friends during a heat wave, such as providing shaded spaces inside and outside your home, if your cat likes to wander around the yard or garden. And be sure to check sheds or greenhouses for sleeping cats before you lock them up.
Some cats are more at risk from the sun’s rays than others, especially those with white fur. You can get specific sun creams to help them.
Read more:Heat stroke warning and how to stay cool during the July heat wave
With a heat wave on the way, including an extreme weather warning in the Northeast, follow these steps to help your cat.
How to protect cats during a heat wave
Cats Protection and the RSPCA are among the pet experts who have advice on how to care for cats during a heat wave, to prevent them from becoming overheated or dehydrated. Since cats love spending time lounging in the sun, there are precautions pet owners can take to avoid overexposure.
cat protection says: “Provide plenty of shade both inside and out. From sheltered planters to cardboard boxes, these items offer makeshift umbrellas for outdoor-loving moggies.
“Think about planting bushes or using cat boxes and furs in the garden. This helps your cat hide from the sun’s potentially harmful rays.”
There are also tips for keeping cats cool indoors. “Place fans around the house to keep air circulating, remembering not to point the fan directly at your cat,” says Cats Protection.
You can also try freezing a bottle of water, wrapping it in a towel or pillowcase, and leaving it somewhere your cat likes to hang out. “This prevents them from feeling overheated during the hottest spells,” says the Cats Protection advice.
“Remember to make sure your cat can walk away from the bottle if she wants to, and make sure the bottle doesn’t leak!”
The RSCPA offers more tips for keeping cats cool indoors. The charity says: “Where it’s safe, keep windows and doors ajar to allow breezes into the house. If your cat lives indoors all the time, consider different options, such as windows with locking mechanisms, which allow to get air into the house and at the same time keep your cat inside.
You should also consider spaces that cats like to get into, such as sheds and greenhouses. If they are in one, make sure they have an easy exit route and check it out before blocking it.
“Check sheds, greenhouses, and summer houses before you close them. Cats can get into warm areas if they’re looking for a cozy spot, but they can get too hot or dehydrated if trapped.” says the RSPCA
Do cats need sunscreen?
Cats with white or thin fur are at particular risk for sunburn and even skin cancer. Cats Protection recommends keeping them indoors between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun tends to be strongest, and using sunscreen. Don’t use sunscreen for humans, buy a variety designed for cats.
Cats Protection says: “When choosing a sunscreen for your cat, use a pet-specific one and, if in doubt, talk to your vet for a recommendation. When applying, focus on the nose, tips of the ears, your cat’s belly and groin, as well as anywhere that has fine fur or no fur.”
The RSCPA adds: “Use pet-safe sunscreen on exposed parts of your cat’s skin, such as the tips of the ears and nose. This is especially important if your cat has white or light-colored fur, as it can be very vulnerable to burning. Talk to your vet if you’re not sure which product is best to use.”
How can I tell if my cat is dehydrated?
Like humans, cats are more likely to become dehydrated in the summer. Hydration helps animals maintain normal body temperature and proper circulation.
Cats Protection has these tips to check if a cat is dehydrated:
- Evaluate your cat’s gums. If your cat’s gums are sticky or sticky, this may be the first sign of dehydration.
- Test the elasticity of the skin. In a well-hydrated cat, the skin should immediately fall back into place. If you don’t, you could very well be dehydrated.
- Check your cat’s eyes. Severely sunken eyes that appear dry may indicate significant dehydration.
- Feel your cat’s paws. If the paws feel cool or cold, this could be a sign of dehydration.
- If dehydration is suspected, see a vet.
How to keep a cat hydrated by helping him drink water
Drinking water is key, but cats can be finicky, so sometimes they need encouragement. Below are Cats Protection tips:
- Avoid plastic bowls. In the heat, these can contaminate the taste of the water. Use glass, ceramic, or metal instead.
- Place water bowls away from food bowls. Cats don’t like to drink where they eat.
- Make sure the water bowl is large, with a large surface area as well.
- Keep the water full so your cat doesn’t have to stick her head in the bowl and to make sure she doesn’t run out of water.
- Many cats prefer running water, so try offering them a cat fountain.
- Placing water bowls in different places around the house will help cats always find a place to drink.
- If you feed your cat canned food, small amounts of water can be mixed into the food, which will increase fluid intake.
And never leave your cat in a hot car.
It’s a well-known piece of advice that bears repeating. Don’t leave your pets trapped in your car, especially when the sun is shining, as they can overheat and die.
The RSCPA says: “Never leave animals in hot cars, conservatories, outbuildings or trailers, even if only for a short time. Temperatures can quickly rise to 47°C (117°F) in these environments, which can be fatal”.