Keeping cats safe and cool in the summer
When the days are long and temperatures heat up, take extra care to keep your cat happy and healthy.
How to keep cats cool in the summer
Pale-coloured cats are vulnerable to sunburn; particularly on their ears, noses and sparsely haired areas.
Sun damage can lead to skin cancer which may require extensive surgery – even amputation in severe cases.
The best prevention is to keep your cat indoors when the sun is strongest, between 11.00am and 3.00pm.
Alternatively, cover vulnerable areas or regularly apply a non-toxic waterproof human sunblock or a product specifically for pets.
Seek prompt veterinary advice if your cat’s skin looks sore, crusty or scaly.
Your cat needs access to clean water at all times, ideally in a large bowl filled to the brim. Older cats are particularly vulnerable to dehydration.
Grooming is important, especially for longhaired animals. A tangle-free coat will protect your pet’s delicate skin and keep them cool. Some animals may need their coats trimming – seek advice from a professional groomer.
How to keep your cat cool and prevent heatstroke
- Animals can suffer fatal heatstroke within minutes
- Make sure your cat has access to clean water at all times, ideally a large bowl filled to the brim
- On hot days, let you cat outside during the cooler parts of the day, in the early morning and late evening
- Watch your pet for signs of over-heating, including heavy panting and loss of energy. If you recognise these signs, encourage your cat to have a drink.
- Signs of heatstroke include collapse, excessive panting, and dribbling. If you suspect your cat is suffering, move them to a cool place, preferably with a draught, wet their coat and contact a vet immediately. Avoid overcooling by using cool, not freezing, water.
Curious cats seek out cooling breezes in the summer, and at this time of year we treat around a hundred cats with serious injuries after falling from heights when their owners open the windows. Sadly, some do not survive their injuries.
To keep your cats safe and the temperature low inside your home during the summer months, either install tip and tilt windows, which allow air into the room without offering access outside to curious cats, or use wire mesh, netting or a screen across windows when they are open to prevent the cats getting out.
If your cat does fall from more than one storey, the animal should be checked by the vet. Even if your cat appears to be fine, there is a risk of internal injuries. Get a check after any fall if your cat seems to be behaving strangely.
Getting shut in
Cats are naturally curious and notorious for their ability to sneak into places where they may not be wanted. There are many tales of cats being shut under floorboards, or into removal vans, or just getting locked into a neighbour’s garden shed. This can have dire consequences, as lack of water can cause dehydration. Older cats are particularly vulnerable because ageing kidneys mean that dehydration occurs rapidly.
The risk of cats getting shut in sheds, greenhouses and garages increases in the summer as cats spend more time out and about. If your cat goes missing it is worth thinking about what has been happening in the neighbourhood recently and making enquiries. Ring around the local vets and animal shelters or welfare societies in case your wanderer has been taken into one of these. Look on the internet as well, as there are several sites where you can report a missing pet.
Making sure your cat is microchipped and that the details are kept up to date significantly increases the chances of you being reunited should your cat go missing.