This is a guest post by journalist Sloan McKinney.
Summer is the time for relaxation, family fun, and taking things slow. It’s the perfect opportunity to re-energize and rejuvenate. However, with the excessive temperatures that can accompany summer in some regions, it also can be a time of extreme danger for pets. This usually brings dogs to mind, but cats are also at risk with hot temperatures and high humidity.
Just like their barking buddies, cats can overheat and suffer heat stroke or exhaustion. Signs to look for are restless behaviours, panting, moist or sweaty paws, drooling, or excessive grooming in an effort to cool themselves. More severe signs include bright red gums and tongue, a racing heartbeat, vomiting, extreme lethargy, and/or collapsing. If any of these signs are evident, you should take immediate steps to cool your cat off.
To cool your cat, remove him from where he is and immediately place him in the shade or ideally, inside with air conditioning. Give him cool water, but make sure it is not too cold. If his body temperature cools too quickly, it could shock his system. He needs to drink some water to rehydrate himself. If he is unable to drink on his own, you can use a child’s medicine dropper to squirt water into his mouth. You also can wet his nose, paws, and fur with room temperature water, or place a damp towel on him if he will let you. More often than not, these steps will have your cat cooled down and acting more like himself within 10 or 15 minutes. If not, you should take him to your vet for more immediate, advanced care.
In addition to heat stroke and exhaustion, our feline friends can burn their paws on hot pavement and get sunburned, as well, especially those with lighter fur and pink skin tones. While cats naturally will avoid the hot pavement and prefer to stay in the shade when it’s really hot, check the pads of your cat’s paws regularly during the summer months, and check the skin around his nose if he seems uncomfortable.
There are several preventative steps you can take to keep your cat protected from the heat of the summer. The most obvious of these is keeping him inside with the air conditioning. If this isn’t always feasible, make sure he has access to plenty of cool water and shade, and brush his coat regularly to keep his fur lighter. Keep tabs on your cat when he is outside. Cats are naturally curious and love adventures. They love to explore and will naturally seek out areas that are either dark and narrow and/or cooler in temperature. This could include an old storage shed, a tree stump, or the underside of a porch, for example. All of these can be potential dangers for either getting stuck and being trapped in the heat or running into other animals also seeking shelter from the heat. Sickly animals can become aggressive and territorial, so be sure to check your property for any unwanted animals regularly. And leave your cat at home when you run errands. Most cats don’t particularly enjoy car rides anyway, and leaving them in an overheated car is an invitation for an ill pet.
The same rules apply to your furry family members as the rest of your crew. Take heed of the temperatures, and pay attention to any signs of distress they make be showing. Make sure everyone has access to plenty of shade and water. If anyone shows signs of overheating, get them in a cooler setting, and work to bring the body temperature down and get them hydrated. Summer is a time for fun. Be prepared and with proper preventative measures, your whole family can have a safe and enjoyable summer.
Sloan McKinney is a journalist based in Southern California. After writing about pop culture for a number of years, she has recently begun writing for a new audience. Inspired by DeAnthony, her cat, as well as her dog Max, Sloan now hopes to help other pet owners guarantee their animal companions happy and healthy lives.