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Helping Your Kitty Beat The Heat

May 1 2024

Summer isn’t far off now. While we may still have a few months before the worst of the heat hits, most people are already gearing up for fun in the sun. As the weather warms up, it’s important for pet owners to take steps to protect their furry buddies from the heat. Read on as a local Rancho Santa Fe, CA vet offers some tips on protecting your feline friend from heat stroke.

How Hot Is Too Hot For Cats?

As a rule of thumb, any time it’s over 80F, it’s getting too hot for Fluffy. If it’s over 90F, it’s definitely too hot, and if it’s over 100F, it’s dangerously hot.

How Do I Tell If My Cat Is Overheated?

Overheating is very dangerous for cats. Fluffy can’t cool herself off very well by panting, and she can only sweat through her paw pads. Plus, she’s wearing a fur coat! It’s important to know the warning signs to look for.

Panting: This is often the first thing you’ll notice. Unlike dogs, cats don’t normally pant. Any time you see a kitty panting, it’s a red flag.

Drooling: Cats also don’t usually drool, though Fluffy may dribble a bit in her sleep. This is another indication that something is wrong.

Restlessness: If Fluffy is too hot, she may pace or walk around continuously. She may also just seem restless or agitated.

Respiratory Distress: Overheated cats may struggle to breathe. You may notice your pet taking shallow breaths, gasping, or just generally breathing in an unusual manner.

Vomiting/Diarrhea: These can also be signs of heat stress, particularly when combined with the other symptoms.

Uncharacteristic Vocalizations: While some of our feline friends are undoubtedly more talkative than others, most have a usual voice or meow pattern. Cats that are hot or distressed may meow in an urgent, distressed way.

Confusion: Fluffy may also act disoriented, confused, and distressed. She may seem dizzy, and may stumble or stagger when she walks.

Weakness: Lethargy is another warning sign. We know, cats spend most of their time lounging around. However, if your pet seems listless, limp, or just weak, then she’s not just taking yet another nap.

Other red flags include the following:

•    Muscle tremors

•    Seizures

•    Collapsing

•    Decreased urine production

•    Coma

You may also notice that Fluffy has a bright red tongue, and that her gums are either redder or paler than usual. Contact your Rancho Santa Fe, CA vet or the nearest emergency clinic immediately if you see any of these things.

How Do I Keep My Cat Cool In The Heat?

If Fido gets too hot, you can help him cool down by taking him swimming, letting him splash in a kiddie pool, or letting him play in the spray from a hose. None of these, of course, are suitable for cats. You’ll need to take a different route when it comes to cooling your kitty off.

Here are a few things you can do:

Keep Your Cat Hydrated

First and foremost, make sure that your feline buddy has plenty of water. If you have more than one cat, or your home has multiple levels, put out extra water bowls. You can drop an ice cube into your kitty’s dish on hot days. Some cats also like drinking from fountains, so you can try that as well.

Offer Your Feline Pal A Cooling Mat

You can buy products made just for this at many pet stores. You can also keep a few towels in the freezer, and put those on Fluffy’s bed.

Let Fluffy Play ‘Pawkey’

Does your cat sometimes bat ice cubes around? This may very well be fun for your feline pal, but it’s also a way to help her beat the heat. Those cute little toe beans actually help kitties regulate their temperature. Actually, cats can only sweat through their paw pads. (Fun fact: Fluffy’s toes resemble teddy bears if viewed upside down.) 

Give Your Cat A Cool Snack

Everyone loves a cold treat on a sweltering hot day … even cats! Here are a few things you can offer your furry pal:

  • Cold Dinner: Keep your feline pal’s canned food in the fridge, so she can enjoy a cool meal.
  • Frozen Bites: Another thing you can do is divide some canned cat food into small portions and then put them in the freezer. You may need to mix pate formula foods with water to thin them out a bit.
  • Tuna Bites: Pour tuna or salmon juice over crushed or shaved ice. Or, mix it in a blender. Only use fish that was stored in water, though: oils can be too fatty for your feline pal.
  • Squeeze Treat: You can buy your furball soft lickable treats that come in pouches. Store these in the fridge or even the freezer.
  • Sodium-Free Broth: This is a good one because it will also help keep your kitty hydrated. Sodium-free broth contains electrolytes. You can pour some into an ice cube tray. Or, just chill it in the fridge and pour it straight into a bowl.
  • Homemade Kitty Ice Cream: Mix some plain, fat-free yogurt with canned or shredded tuna, chicken, turkey, crabmeat, or fish. You can add a bit of parsley for your feline pal as well. Portion out into small servings and freeze. (Tip: bottlecaps are good for measuring these out.)

Offer Fluffy A Comfy Bed

Cats are pretty good about finding comfortable spots to snooze off in. In summer, you may find your furry friend sprawled out on the kitchen or bathroom floor, or even in the basement. Tile floors stay cool when it’s hot, so this can help keep Fluffy comfortable. Just keep an eye on her, and make sure you don’t accidentally lock her in somewhere!

Another thing you can do is get your pet a hammock or raised bed. You can buy them, but you can also make your own just by attaching a piece of fabric to the legs of a table. These are cooler than typical beds, because air can move beneath them.

Brush Your Cat

Our feline pals are usually pretty good about keeping up with their beauty care. However, that doesn’t mean Fluffy won’t appreciate having some help. By brushing your cat, you’ll be getting dead fur, dust, and dander out of her coat. As you can imagine, these things can make kitties quite itchy and uncomfortable. Another bonus? Your pet won’t get as many hairballs, as you’ll be grabbing that dead fur with a brush before she swallows it.

Let Your Pet Find A Cool Spot

If there’s one thing cats are good at, it’s getting comfortable. Make sure your kitty has access to rooms that are cooled by fans or air conditioners, and let her seek out a cool spot.

What Do I Do If My Cat Is Too Hot?

If you know or suspect that your kitty is too hot, you’ll need to act fast. Your pet will need veterinary care, but you’ll need to take steps to cool Fluffy down. You don’t want to submerge her in cold water: that may just send her into shock. You can hold her in front of a freezer. Or, put her in front of a fan and mist her with water. Another option is to gently wipe a cool, damp cloth over her fur. Contact your Rancho Santa Fe, CA vet as you are doing this, and get specific instructions.  

Make An Appointment With Your Rancho Santa Fe, CA Vet

Do you have questions about your cat’s health or care? Is your feline buddy due for an exam? Contact us, your local Rancho Santa Fe, CA pet clinic, today!

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