Dogs pant to cool down, humans sweat through their skin, cats do not do either of these as their primary way of regulating their body temperature. Panting is not normal for a cat, if your cat is panting you should seek veterinary help immediately without stressing the cat. Cats and dogs can sweat through glands on their paws. They do not sweat from the rest of their body. On a warm day cats like to spend time resting to avoid overheating. While cats love to sunbathe they also seek out shade when it gets too hot. A cats main way to cool down is through grooming. Cats spend more time grooming in warmer weather. The cat’s tongue is covered with firm spines that work like combs to clean, detangle and introduce saliva through the coat. When the saliva evaporates it helps to cool the cat down.
It is always good to have a grooming routine, as the removal of dead and excess hair will help to keep your cat cool during the summer. If your cat has a particularly long coat which can become thick and matted; I would recommend you book an appointment with your local pet groomer, who will professionally groom your cat and keep its coat in tip top condition. There are several Dog Groomers throughout West Lothian that also offer Cat Grooming such as ‘Top Dog Grooming’ in Dedridge, ‘Tillychance Dog Grooming Services’ in East Calder or ‘Mucky Mutts’ in Livingston.
It is really important to help keep your cat(s) hydrated at all times, but even more so during hot periods. A couple of water bowls around the house offering fresh, cool water will help to ensure they find a place they like to drink from. Fresh running water is often a favourite with many cats, its just a case of working out what your cat prefers. On really hot days, a top tip is to pop a few ice cubes into the water bowl. This will help keep the water cool and also interest for your cat. They might enjoy playing with them! It is best to place the bowls away from food stations and litter trays, as cats are fussy and would not normally eat, drink and toilet all in the same area. I know the bowls are only used for water, however bacteria can still build up in the bowls, especially in warm conditions, so please wash them thoroughly every day to keep your cat healthy. As a professional cat sitter it is part of my daily visits to clean all bowls and if there is a water fountain, I also clean the filter and refresh the water.
If you have an outdoor cat, during the summer months it is good to give your cat(s) a variety of places to enjoy the sun for short periods of time, but also have plenty of shady spots for your cat to hide in. Keep your house well ventilated, maybe place a fan that blows cool air over their beds or a cool mat for them to lie on. If you have indoor cats and are worried about your fur baby escaping out of an open window, there are products on the market that you can use to cover the window or maybe add a Catio to give a safe out door space. Having different views, sights and smells are great enrichment for your kitties and help to keep them happy and stimulated.
If your cat has white extremities such as the nose or ears, you may need to apply sun cream to protect the skin as these areas are more prone to skin cancer than others. It is always best to consult your vet if you are unsure which product is safe to use on your cat.
Playing with your cat everyday is important for their physical and mental health and wellbeing. However, when the weather is warm try to keep it to short 5-8 mins of play. Short, regular periods spread over the day are better than long, vigorous play time. Cats, like most pets can suffer from Hyperthermia which occurs when an animal gets too hot. This can be caused by prolonged exposure to the sun, over-exercise in humid conditions or leaving an animal in a car on a hot day. If you are concerned your cat is suffering from Hyperthermia; then you need to immediately cool the animal down and remove them from the hot environment. You could use an ice pack, cool water bath or shroud in wet sheets and offer a bowl of cool water to drink. Always contact your vet for advise.
Enjoy the sunshine with your feline furry friends!