We've been going through a bit of a heatwave here in Belgium, and I wasn't the only one in the apartment having a hard time coping with the fact that this place heats up to the point of it becoming a sauna so easily. Strummer and Leia, my two cats, were pretty out of it, and you might have noticed your cat changing its behaviour during hot days, as well. Don't really know how to help them cool down? Well, then read these tips and your feline friend(s) will certainly thank you!
WATER. This one's a given, as it's the exact same thing us humans must do whenever it's hot out: drink enough. In cat equivalent, this means you should try to provide your cat with as much fresh water as you can. Replace their bowls a couple of times a day, place multiple bowls around the house (which you should actually do anyway), or invest in a water fountain. Cats can be quite stubborn when it comes to drinking warm, still or dirty water, so convincing them to drink with a fresh batch is always a good idea. Gone for the day? Place a couple of ice cubes in each bowl before you leave to keep their water cool for a little while longer.
PROVIDE SHADE. Cats are actually quite clever when it comes to cooling themselves down. They will enjoy their time in that patch of sunshine until they are too hot, and then just look up their favourite cool spot. Let them choose one, they know best, and don't panic when your cat is suddenly looking up the strangest nooks for snoozing. Their favourite spots when it gets reaalllly hot? Bathroom tiles. I highly recommend trying those out on a hot day yourselves, by the way, they feel like heaven. Clever kitties. Outdoor cats will probably have a couple of those spots as well. However, when you're in a proper heatwave it's better to keep them inside from about 10am till 3pm. Just in case they don't find a good spot of shade.
KEEP THE HEAT OUT. Keep your curtains and windows closed during the daytime, even when you're home. Opening them when the temperatures outside are at their peaks will only invite it in. Wait till it's cooled down in the evening or late afternoon to open them up and let the fresh air in.
KEEP CALM. Most cats like to play and will do so whenever you trigger them. So just don't trigger them when it's still too hot and keep them calm until it's cool enough to give it their all while chasing a string. This isn't hard, people. They just sleep when you leave 'em alone, don't they?
GROOM. Once again, a cat is clever enough to groom itself more often when it's hot because it's a great cooling mechanism. Some cats, however, will certainly appreciate you helping them along by brushing them. OR even pet them with a damp cloth. I have one of those weirdo's (Strummer loves water) but ye be warned: not all cats will appreciate the wet stuff.
WATCH THE BEANS. Like a lot of other animals, cats have their sweat glands on their paws. So if you notice them leaving wet paw prints all of a sudden, it means they're sweating like crazy and you'll have to make sure they fill up their water reserves again. Or you can always help them along by dipping their paws into water. Once again: may not be appreciated by all cats...
So that's about it! The good news? Cats are much better at keeping themselves cool than dogs, that's why all the above tips are quite easy to follow. Mostly since they're common sense once you think about it for a second, but also because your cat will pretty much take charge of the situation. For example? Whenever Strummer wants a good brush because he's too hot from all the excess hair, he'll come nag me until the penny drops and I reach for the brush. And Leia? She disappears to the bathroom during the hottest hours of the day. Or into my closet. Or way on top of the highest shelves. She knows the best spots.
Oh, and the other good news? Once the whole place is cooled down again, they will still be up for cuddles, don't you worry. ;-)
Q: do your cats have weird heatwave habits? Funny hiding spots? What do you do to keep your pet(s) cool when you notice they're having a hard time on a hot day?