Summer is almost here and for most of us it’s HOT out there! While you keep your cat indoors at all times to ensure his safety from predators, cars, and other dangers, there are still a handful of summertime dangers that you should know about.
Humans can sweat to help lower their body temperature, but cats can’t! In order for a cat to cool off, they will pant and lick their fur. These methods of cooling off aren’t very efficient so it’s fairly easy for our feline friends to overheat. The regular body temperature of a cat is between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, so cats are especially in danger of overheating if the temperature of the air is warmer than their body temperature. Also, some cats are at higher risk than others, including those breeds with short noses, like Persians, kittens, elderly cats, and kitties who are overweight.
Be aware of these signs of overheating and heat stroke in cats: Rapid panting, excessive drooling and grooming, pale gums or dark red gums, weakness, dizziness and wobbly walking, and lethargy.
To prevent overheating, never leave your cat in a parked car, make sure your kitty has access to shade, give your indoor cat a cool area to relax, always keep fresh water available, and use your air conditioning or fans to keep the house cool.
If you suspect your feline friend is overheating, you need to act quickly! Wrap your kitty in a cool, wet towel. Put rubbing alcohol on your cat’s paws, and offer lots of fresh, cool water. Then get your cat to the veterinarian as quickly as possible.
If your cat becomes dehydrated and it’s not treated quickly enough, the consequences can be serious. Dehydration basically occurs when your cats body fluid levels are less than normal. This can be due to not eating or drinking enough, being sick with vomiting and diarrhea, or even not having access to fresh water – especially when it’s warm outside. Some cats are at higher risk for dehydration, including those with kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, and thyroid problems. Elderly and cats who are nursing kittens are also at higher risk.
Be aware of these signs of dehydration in cats: Lethargy, loss of appetite, increased heart rate, panting, and sunken eyes.
An easy way to gauge if your cat is dehydrated is to gently pinch and pull up a “tent” of skin between your cat’s shoulder blades and let it go. If the skin doesn’t immediately return to normal, your cat is likely dehydrated. He will need to be treated by a veterinarian, the sooner the better.
Prevent dehydration by making sure your cat always has access to fresh water. If your cat prefers to drink from a moving water source, get him a pet water fountain to increase his desire to drink. Since cats get most of their fluid from food rather than water, consider putting your cat on a wet food diet.
Yes, despite their protective fur coats, cats can get sunburned. Cats with white or light colored fur, very short or sparse fur, and hairless breeds are more susceptible to sunburn, as well ask those cats who live in very sunny, warm climates.
Be aware of these signs of sunburn in cats: Redness of the skin, hair loss on the edges of the ears, leathery skin, and itching.
Protect your feline friend from overexposure to the sun by putting a film on your windows to filter out UV rays, add curtains or blinds to your windows to help diffuse the sunlight, or (if kitty will allow it) put a shirt on your cat. Use caution when it comes to sunscreen, as many of them include ingredients that are toxic to cats if ingested – and you can be sure any lotion you put on your cat is going to be ingested!
If you suspect your cat has sunburn, treatment should be handled by your veterinarian. Just like with humans, cats that are repeatedly exposed to sun and sunburn are more likely to develop skin cancer, so preventing and treating it are extremely important.
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