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Hot Cats!

Written By: Jane Davidson RVN

Summer looks like it has finally arrived and for many cat owners, this can be good news! But there are also some new problems that might crop up during the warmer months. Much of the information about the hot weather is focused on dogs, as they are more likely to be under our control for exercise or travel so it’s us owners who need the education! However, although cats are more free range than dogs they may still need a little extra help this summer.



We know that cats are heat seekers, always finding the comfiest and warmest spot. Yet older cats, kittens and those with health issues may find it harder to cope with increased temperatures. You may also find that sometimes sleeping cats spend too long in warm conditions. Unlike dogs, cats don’t routinely lose heat through panting, and can only ‘sweat’ through their paw pads and from between their toes. You may have noticed that at the vets your cat leaves little wet paw marks on the consult room table and this is because they were stressed and their paws were sweating! 


Sleeping locations

In normal weather sleeping in front of a window or in a conservatory might be fine, but in summer it's worth taking time to make sure there are resting places that cats like in cooler areas. Most cats prefer a sleeping area that is high up, in a quiet location, so ensure there are spaces in cooler areas for cats to access.


Access to water

While cats are descended from relatives that lived in the desert and can utilise water resources well physiologically, they often do need help from us about where to place water sources.

Cats don’t tend to hunt and eat in the same place as they access water so the tradition of adjoining bowls in amusing fish shapes or in trendy stands isn’t great for our cats. Always provide water a reasonable distance from the food bowl and also away from the litter tray. 

As a rule, always have one water bowl per pet in different areas. Large heavy ceramic bowls, like a dog bowl, are good as they are deep and wide. Cats can sometimes suffer from ‘whisker stress’ if bowls are too small so ensure the bowl is big enough to accommodate large whiskers!


Changing cat population outside

Summer means holiday season and a change in routine. Something we look forward to but a stressful time for cats. Over the holidays the cat population in your area will change as some people send their cats to a cattery or get cat sitters in and the daily feeding routine changes.

All this has an impact on your cat if it goes outdoors. Cats have amazingly complex relationships with other cats and their territories are defined by each others status and activity. Thus when other cats go ‘on holiday’ the social networking of cats becomes a much more complex issue. Add in the breeding season during hot weather and there can be an increase in stress for your cat and possibly them getting involved in fights.

Be prepared for stress and offer your cat a safe sanctuary at home. Consider providing a litter tray indoors if you don’t usually. Cat pheromone or aromatherapy diffusers may reduce their anxiety, and keep an eye on them for cat bites or scratches.


Long haired cats

If you have a long haired cat you may consider shaving them to reduce the stress of excess heat. There are various theories around that well kept cat coats trap cool air in summer so shaving is not a good thing. As an owner of elderly Persians I would say that for both you and your cats’ sanity, getting a ‘lion cut’ for summer is a good idea. A lion cut is where the body and tops of the legs are shaved but the head, tail and ‘boots’ on the paws are left long. 

Outdoor cats are less likely to get twigs and dry matter stuck in their fur, the coat is easier for both of you to look after. The reduced weight of the fur and the ease of grooming make for a happier cat. Just be careful with white cats as they may need a pet sunblock to stop them burning.

Cats are sometimes forgotten in hot weather as we assume they can take good care of themselves - but there are some areas where they can benefit from a little help from their owners. Keep everyone safe and cool this summer!

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