Cool Cats – How to Avoid Heat Stress in Your Cat

Dr Caity Venniker

Bouts of unusually warm weather can lead to an increased incidence of heat stress in cats. Most of the time cats are good at managing their temperature by resting in cool areas, but this is not always enough. Very young; geriatric; long-haired and obese cats are particularly at risk for succumbing to heat stress. Certain flat-faced breeds such as Persians and Himalayans are also predisposed, as their nasal passages are narrower and more prone to inflammation which can inhibit breathing.

As summer approaches and temperatures rise some of our feline friends may need a little help with keeping cool.

Our Top Tips for Keeping your Cat Safe and Cool in a Heat Wave:

  1. Always make sure that your cat has access to unlimited, cool, fresh water.

  1. Offer your cat ice cubes to play with on blazing hot days. You can make these more appealing by freezing blocks of tuna brine or stock-flavoured water.

  1. Provide a resting place for your cat in a quiet, shady, well-ventilated area. It may help to keep your cat indoors in very warm weather, especially pale cats that are more prone to sunburn.

  1. Fans and air conditioners are obviously very useful in keeping our cats cool. When these are not available ice packs placed in the resting area are helpful.

  1. Cats reduce their temperatures by panting or cleaning themselves (the evaporation of saliva from their coats cools them down in a similar way to sweating). Applying a damp towel will have the same effect, especially in front of a fan. Thoroughly wetting your cat is controversial as it may stress your cat further, and the water may act as a coat of heat insulation if it becomes warm. Ice cold water is also not recommended as it causes the blood vessels of the skin to constrict, effectively holding heat within the body.

  1. If your cat’s temperature rises to 39°C or above, with no other signs of stress or illness, it is worth implementing measures to cool your cat down. If the temperature climbs higher, above 39,5° or more, it may be necessary to take your cat to the vet to be checked over. Your vet may set up intravenous fluids to try and cool your cat down.

  1. Signs of heat stress include panting; lethargy, restlessness or stupor; drooling; vomiting or diarrhoea; and either a bright red or pale tongue and gums. Checking the temperature of your cat is very helpful; but be aware that stress can also raise the body temperature of animals so take that into account if your cat hates the thermometer!

As always, prevention is better than cure, so try to keep an eye out for sudden hot weather and be prepared - particularly if your cat is at risk for heat stress. The KatKin club is full of super cool cats, and that’s the way we like it!

 

 

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