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Keep Kitty as Cool as a Cucumber This Summer
CatsHealth

Keep Kitty as Cool as a Cucumber This Summer

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Jun 13, 2022

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As homeotherms, cats and dogs usually stick around the 100 to 102-degree mark. Cat fur keeps your feline bestie comfortable in winter and summer, but when the weather gets extreme, it's a game-changer, and your fluffy buddy will need assistance regulating its temperature and embodying the term cool cat.

1

Don't sweat it

cat laying down on the floor © Kin Ming Ho / Getty Images

Apart from perspiration under paws and between toes, cats don't sweat much—their bodies aren't made to cool down in this way. Instead, contact with cooler objects allows for conduction and extra heat transfer. Convection enables a similar process via cold air or water. So, your cat will hunker down on a cold tile or lay near a pet-safe fan or breezy open door when it's feeling a little hot and bothered.

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2

Tonguetastic

cat licking itself Bogdan Kurylo / Getty Images

The only internal process cats have to release stored body heat is panting. Dogs often walk around panting, whereas tongue action for evaporation is much less common among cats who try to seek shelter to prevent overheating in the first place. Cats also pant when they're playing boisterously or when they're stressed or ill. It's more likely that you'll see a cat licking and grooming itself, which is as close to sweating all over as it gets. The saliva evaporates and leaves a more comfortable cat in its wake.

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3

Fur your information

person holding cat fur and cat in the background ALFSnaiper / Getty Images

Unlike humans, cats don't need to wear clothing when the season gets frosty because fur is a fabulous insulator. Your cat's fur also helps it manage hot weather by slowing down heat absorption and protecting it from sunburn, so you should steer clear of shaving them. In addition, cat body hair changes, and they shed their thick undercoats come summer all by themselves.

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4

Never leave kitty in a car or too-warm house

person holding her cat at home Olezzo / Getty Images

The weather might seem mild to you, but it's not as forgiving for your pet. It doesn't matter whether you leave your windows open; it's a recipe for disaster. Cats and dogs overheat rapidly, and heatstroke is a real risk because temperatures inside a vehicle soar well beyond temperatures outside of it.

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5

Never take your cat out and about on a sweltering day

small kitten is walking on the road infinityyy / Getty Images

Your weather app might say it's 77 degrees Fahrenheit outside, but the pavement can heat up to 125 degrees and burn your cat's paw pads, for starters. You're asking for triple trouble because your cat must not only work to combat the hot weather, but it's also producing heat due to leashed exercise. A gentle pant becomes pronounced as the animal works hard to reach homeostasis, and the panting leads to dehydration.

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6

Cat risk factors

Himalayan cat

Himalayan and Persian cats, with their long coats, are understandably vulnerable when the sun comes out to play. They also have flat faces, which means they can't pant as optimally as other breeds. Cats that are unwell or elderly should receive special attention, and fat cats that let the winter pounds pile on probably need to go on a diet. Being overweight or obese with too much fat insulation affects thermoregulation and your pet's ability to push heat away from its body.

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7

Signs of heatstroke

cat laying in the couch jackaldu / Getty Images

Heat exhaustion can happen suddenly and may lead to organ damage, a coma, or the death of your pet if you're unaware and fail to respond quickly. Look out for the following symptoms of overheating:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Drooling or bright red tongue and gums
  • Weak and lethargic with a lack of coordination
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • A loose and bloody stool
  • A high rectal temperature above 105° F

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8

The lowdown on spray-downs

cat with ice pack on its head liveostockimages / Getty Images

When your cat seems to be in distress, make an emergency appointment with a healthcare professional and ask for advice. Your vet might suggest a spray-down or cold compress. Take the cat out of the heat and run tepid water over its groin, chest, neck, and head. Or wrap it in wet towels and when the towels feel warm, squeeze out the water and dip the sheets back in the cool water. It's also worth noting that pools can be harmful—your cat might drink too much out of it, and it's full of chlorine and chemicals that can cause an upset stomach or skin irritations.

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9

Make catsicles

cat eating popsicle Nils Jacobi / Getty Images

Assemble your ice trays. Boil chicken bones from dinner to make a small batch of broth and let the nourishing, wholesome goodness cool down. Pour the broth into ice trays or popsicle molds, plop a tiny piece of meat in the middle of each cube, and freeze. Et voila! You now have popsicles to delight your cat when it's a scorcher outside.

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10

The upside to domesticity

kitten drinking from tap Bobiko / Getty Images

Living indoors with you means that a cat benefits from your creature comforts. There's the refreshing air conditioner in one room, a faucet with endless streams of hydrating water in the next, and moderate amounts of cooling seedless watermelon laid out in a bowl in the kitchen. To a stray cat, your humble abode may as well be the Hilton hotel. Don't forget about your cat's needs when you're leaving town for a weekend. Get someone to drop in to ensure your cat is neither too hot nor too cold.

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