Keeping your cat cool

by Andy Bryenton

Cats love to bask in the sun, recalling their ancestry as messengers of the gods outside Egypt’s sun-baked temples. However, there’s sometimes too much of a good thing, and breeds of cat that hail from more temperate climates need a little help keeping cool in the hottest part of the year.

The first thing to know is that cats operate on a minimal water cycle. They don’t drink a huge amount at once, so access to cool, clean water at all times is most important. In summer, a cat will lap up tiny servings of H2O, just more often. To make things that bit more comfortable, it’s not a bad idea to freeze margarine or table spread containers full of water and place the resulting ice blocks in your cat’s outdoor bowls. They will slowly melt down, providing cool water all day while you are at work.

Cats sweat through their feet, and their paws are quite sensitive to heat. A pavement or path that’s uncomfortable to us without jandals on is worse for a cat; conversely, even water-hating felines sometimes like to cool off by walking in a very shallow pool during summer. If you can make one with a shallow tray under shade, give it a try!

Longer-haired cats may need the attention of a pet ‘hairdresser’ at this time of year to thin out their coats. Similarly, cats with pale pink noses or ear tips need feline sunscreen to avoid skin cancer, just like humans. Special sunblocks for pets are available from your vets.

If your cat is finding it hard to get comfy and sleep (as we know, they do like their naps), wrap a packet of frozen veggies in a towel and place it in their bed or favourite spot. Carnivorous cats will not be tempted to tear open the bag, after all, and it makes for a cool day bed.

The final thing to watch out for is a peculiarity of apartment-dwelling cats. When overheated, cats may take foolish risks to get outdoors and into shade, like the ‘calenture’ experienced by delusional, sunstruck sailors who walked overboard, convinced they saw mirages of land.

This ’high rise syndrome’ can cause cats to leap from high windows in summer, so pet owners in multi-storey homes are advised to ensure there are no spaces from which their cats could try to escape.

In most homes, a cast door on the ground floor will prevent this problem before it happens.