December 25, 2018 5 min read

Abnormal heat, dry air, burning sun rays - not many cats are indifferent to summer swelter. Overheating of the body - sunstroke or heatstroke - can lead to a serious violation of the internal organs and even death. A loving owner must try to make their cat’s life as easy as possible during the hot period. 

The following cats suffer from the heat worse than others: 

- Suffering from chronic diseases (especially heart, vessels, airways);

- Overweight;

- Older cats (older than 7 years);

- No coat (short-haired or bald). It’s acceptable to shorten a Persian’s fur a littlе; 

- Cats with short muzzles (Persians, exotics). 

If you are an owner of a cat that is at risk, be sure to consult a veterinarian. The vet will prescribe a medicine that will reduce the cat’s body load during the heat and will tell you what medicines should be in a first aid kit in case the condition worsens. Only a professional can prescribe medicine and calculate dosage! Don’t trust anyone who doesn’t have special education, no matter how persuasive they are. 

Cat’s Body: Thermoregulation

Largely, cats like warmth as they require much energy to maintain body temperature at a constant level. Besides, during the heat, cats are less sensitive to a rise in temperature (compared to people) as their skin has a few thermoreceptors. But cats almost don’t sweat (there are very few sweat glands on a cat’s skin) and cannot cool their bodies breathing with their tongues out (like dogs do). That’s why overheating for a cat is as dangerous as for human and other domestic animals, though it’s less probable (in natural conditions). 

Cat at Home 

Cats feel rather comfortable in summer, even if the temperature inside the room has risen up to 25 degrees. However, a room must be ventilated: during abnormal heat, don’t forget to leave small windows open or slightly ajar if a window isn’t protected with a mosquito net. 

        When a cat feels hot, it always sleeps, moving from shadow to sun and back from time to time - that’s how cats regulate their body temperature.

That’s why you don’t drive a pet away from a sunny windowsill and try to lay it down in the shadow. But be sure that a cat doesn’t nap under burning sun rays too much (on the balcony or on the windowsill) as it can get heatstroke during its sleep, and she won’t have the strength to move to a cool area of the flat. Some cats like to take a bath in summer washing with cold water. If your cat is one of the water treatments lovers, don’t forget to turn on the water tap several times a day - if a cat wants to, it will come to a bathroom to cool itself, but don’t force a cat to have a bath. 

During the heat, cats like to lie in the sink, bathtub or on the cool tiled floor - leave a bathroom door slightly ajar. Don’t let old cats or cats suffering from chronic diseases lie on the cold floor. Make sure that the cat doesn’t fall asleep under the airstream from the ventilator or air conditioner. 

If the heat is unbearable, you can improve the room atmosphere by hanging out wet cold-water towels and sheets in the flat. 

Cat Outdoors 

A healthy adult cat which spends a huge amount of time outdoors will feel more comfortable outside, even during the heat. And domestic cats which seldom go outdoors (or walk only with a harness), old cats and little kittens, unhealthy cats and cats with flat muzzles cannot be allowed to walk or taken for a walk during the heat (temperature higher than 25 degrees). 

If a cat comes through the heat with difficulties but is used to relieving itself only outdoors, an owner must go out with the cat, wait for it while it is “minding its business” and carry it home at once. If there’s a necessity to transport a cat, be sure to use a carrier, don’t forget to carry a bottle of water and a towel (in case a cat feels very hot). There’s no way you can leave a cat in a locked car (as well as in any stuffy unventilated room). 

Feeding 

If a cat is hot, its appetite is getting lower naturally; that’s why you don’t need to worry if your pet doesn’t eat anything but water for one or two days (providing that a cat is absolutely healthy and there are no signs of illness). During the heat, cats are better to be fed once a day about evening time with light food. If a cat eats natural products, you need to reject beef, removing it with white poultry or diet rabbit meat. If a cat eats dry food, you need to be sure that the food is not stale in a bowl - in the heat, feed pellets lose their appetizing smell and taste very quickly. 

        Dry food, which has been in a bowl more than 24 hours (during abnormal heat), can cause poisoning. Preservatives can rot if left for several hours.

During the heat, a cat always must have access to fresh cool water. In case a pet does not feel good, a bowl with water must be put in every room. 

Heatstroke: Signs and First Aid 

Heatstroke symptoms:

A cat is breathing quickly (like a dog does with its mouth open – this is a very alarming sign such breathing is not typical for cats); 

A cat is lying stretched out and sprawled, doesn’t react to sounds, its owner’s voice and touches; 

If a cat doesn’t lie and tries to walk away, and its movements are constrained, it is disoriented;

A cat is breathing quickly but not deep; 

The pulse is filament; 

The pupils are dilated, don’t react to light, mucous membranes are red or pale; 

Body temperature is higher than 39.5 degrees. 

        Tip: to measure a cat’s temperature and minimally disturb it, cover a thermometer top with a thin layer of Vaseline oil.

For measuring a cat’s temperature, it is preferable to choose not a digital thermometer as it works much faster. The thermometer is inserted into the anus of a cat lying on its side for 1-1.5 cm. If a cat is resisting and trying to escape, wrap it in a terry towel (or any other thick fabric), hiding its paws and leaving only its head and tail free. After manipulation, the thermometer must be rubbed with a cotton pad dipped in any disinfectant fluid (for example alcohol) and then dried with a paper napkin. 

If despite all precautions, a cat got heatstroke, you need to help her cool immediately. It’s simple - wrap a cat in a cool wet towel, attach ice bags to its belly and hips (or just wet these parts with cold water). Overheating can lead to pulmonary and brain edema, and that’s why a cat urgently must be transported to a vet clinic even if it is awake and seems to feel better.

Kawaii Meow
Lover of Japanese culture, cats, and self-help hacks. The biggest cat online store.

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