by Nomi Berger
Picture yourself on a sweltering summer day wearing a long fur coat. Are you hot yet? Itchy? Thirsty? Desperately searching for shade?
Now picture your cats on that same summer day. And you’ll have some idea of how THEY feel.
Keeping cats cool and comfortable is essential to keeping them safe INside. Protecting them from the hot sun, hot air and hot ground is essential to keeping them safe OUTside. All it requires is common sense and some advance planning.
If you have air conditioning, cool down your place as much as possible before you leave for work/play/the day. Draw blinds/curtains and leave the air conditioning on low.
If you don’t have air conditioning, place fans in the windows and run them on “exhaust” to circulate the air without sucking in the hot air outside. Keep blinds/curtains drawn.
Freeze a bottle of water and place it IN your cat’s bed or place a package of frozen peas UNDER the covering of the bed.
Feeling extravagant? Purchase a cat bed that stays cool through low voltage electricity.
Store small plastic containers of water in the freezer overnight. Place the now-iced containers around your cat’s other favorite cuddling/napping spot(s).
Keep your cat’s food and water bowls out of any direct sunlight, and fill the water bowl with ice cubes to help it remain chilled for hours.
Keep activity to a minimum and discourage your cat from playing.
For those with a screened-in patio that their cat enjoys, put up shades on the sides that face the sun, set out several bowls of iced water and check on them throughout the day.
If gone for the day, consider keeping your cat in the bathroom to lie on the tiled floor or counter top or to curl up in the bathtub or sink.
If going on a road trip in a car without air conditioning, place a wet towel over your cat’s carrier or attach a small battery-operated fan to the outside of the carrier.
Fill the food and water cups inside the carrier with crushed ice for extra cooling, and use a spray bottle of cold water to occasionally wet your cat’s coat.
If traveling in a car WITH air conditioning, keep it on and ensure that the airflow reaches your cat’s carrier.
Never leave your cat tethered outside in the shade. As the day progresses and the light shifts, your cat will be directly exposed to the sun’s harmful rays and heat.
Never shave your cat’s fur as it offers SOME protection against sunburn. Pale and light-skinned cats MUST stay out of the sun because their ears and the tips of their noses are prone to skin cancer.
Never leave your cat in a parked car (even with the windows cracked) for even a few minutes. (Leaving the A/C on with the motor running is an environmental no-no). The inside of a car heats up quickly, making it much hotter than the air outside and can lead swiftly to heat stroke.
The symptoms of heat stroke include rapid panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, erratic/wobbly walking, and redder than normal gums.
Should you observe any of these symptoms, wrap your cat in a cool, wet towel, and get to your veterinarian or to an animal hospital immediately.
Being a responsible cat guardian means being an informed cat guardian.
The list of safety rules may seem long, but the hot days of summer are even longer.