By Desiree Castro
Cat owners are worried that their pets might have a heat stroke as it gets too hot these days, specially from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. In the past few days, the temperature rose to as high as 41 degrees Celsius in Metro Manila and a dangerous high of 51 degrees Celsius in Dagupan.
While we know cats love sunshine and warm weather, we also know that excessive heat can cause cats to collapse and worse, suffer a stroke.
“Cats can worship their own personal sunbeam, but excessive heat is dangerous. Like us, felines are susceptible to heatstroke, sunburn, heat exhaustion, skin cancer and dehydration. So while you find ways to stay cool, make sure you help your cat do the same,” said Magda Romanow in “Summer Tips for Cats” in petcurean. com.
Here are some tips to cool your cat this summer:
Always give clean water, and change the water in their bowl as the temperature rises.
We change the water in our cat’s bowl every hour, specially from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., because the heat can be too much during these hours.
The warm atmosphere will make your cat’s water hot. Thus, the water has to be changed.
“Cats are not big drinkers and need encouragement to consume enough water needed to stay hydrated. Make sure their water is always clean, and their dish is washed daily. If you are going to be away from your house for an extended period of time you may want to put a couple of ice cubes in their water,” Romanow said.
Romanow added that running water, specially from a cat fountain or a tap or faucet attracts cats. You can switch on the faucet every now and then to make your roaming cats drink water.
You can also put water dishes throughout the house so that your cat is always near a source of water.
For senior cats, some may require additional hydration via subcutaneous fluids. “Dehydration is a very common concern with elderly felines,” said Romanow.
Bring your senior cat to the vet for assessment and to do this. The vet can also teach you how to do it to your cat and when.
Bacteria grows faster in warm weather, so please always check the food and water of your pet.
“Pay extra attention to food in the summer heat as well… Canned food especially needs to be kept fresh. Try to avoid putting dishes in direct sunlight and store any uneaten portions in the fridge,” Romanow said.
You can also give frozen treats to cats to keep them cool, hydrated and entertained, Romanow said.
“There are many foods that you can freeze and make into popsicles for your cat. You can find recipes for homemade ‘catsicles’ online, or you can buy cat food products that can be frozen,” Romanow added.
During the summer, it is best to give cats more wet food to provide more moisture in the body.
We boil ground chicken (without the ski) and put some grated or mashed pumpkins and give this mixture to cats with lots of chicken broth.
We also boil chicken parts like gizzard, liver or heart and then put them in a blender with some pumpkins or carrots. Cats love this at it is tasty yet easy to eat.
You can also freeze this mixture and give a 'catscile' to your cat every now and then.
Their Castle (Your Home)
Extreme heat can be too much for cats, and can interfere with a cat’s natural ability to regulate their own body temperature.
For a cooler place, here are some tips from Romanow:
1. Close windows, blinds and curtains in the morning.
2. Switch on the fans all over the house to keep the air moving.
3. Ice in front a fan will make an area a colder zone.
4. Freeze water in a large pop bottle, wrap in a towel, and put it in one of the areas where your cat stays.
5. If you have air conditioning, use a timer (if possible) to turn it on periodically when you are not at home.
6. Brush your cat regularly. Matted fur traps the heat.
7. Some cats also like being covered with a cool damp towel.
Here are signs your cats are feeling so hot or are already hot:
1. Cats will pant and breathe with their mouths.
2. The paws will get moist from sweating.
3. They might lick their paws or parts of their body more or over groom in an attempt to moisten their fur.
RED ALERT: WHEN THE PANTING IS FRANTIC, YOUR CAT IS TOO HOT AND MAY BE HAVING A HEAT STROKE.
When you see this,
1. Place a cool towel on their paws (not ice cold because that may shock their system).
2. Give water. Do not force the cat to drink as he or she might choke.
3. If the cat does not want to drink, wet a dish towel and rub it on the gums.
Signs of a heatstroke that follow frantic panting are red tongue and gums, drooling, confusion, vomiting and diarrhea, and collapsing. You need to call your vet right away if you suspect heatstroke.
It is ideal that all cats be kept inside the house or indoor. But if this is not possible, and to help stray cats, you can do the following to help cats battle the heat.
1. Put shades in some areas in your garage or garden or yard. You can tie a table cloth or a bedsheet somewhere in the garden or even the garage.
2. Put potted plants in the garage or tiled areas. It is best to use terracotta pots, not the plastic ones. The plastic pots keep heat in; clay pots are cooling. Choose plants that have many big leaves for more cooling effect.
3. You can put a big umbrella in the garden also.
4. Even before summer, grow plants that provide a cool shade like calathea lutea which grows tall and has big round leaves. Lutea costs only P150 to P250 per seedling bag.
Some owners plant banana sometime December or January so that by April, the banana plant has become a tree with its big leaves as shade.
5. If your yard lacks plants, put out an umbrella, a cardboard box, or anything that will create shade for your cat or visiting stray cats.
6. If you have some room or storage area outside your house, be careful not to lock your cat into one.
7. Water is very important. Put clean, cold water in several shaded areas around your home. Do not use plastic; stainless steel or ceramic bowls are good. Change the water all the time.
8. Put pet-safe sunscreen on any areas of your cat that lack fur. White cats do get terrible sunburns on the tips of their ears if they don’t have sunscreen on.
9. Please give water to homeless cats in your community. Please also make some makeshift shaded area for them like a cardboard box.
This article also appears in the Manila Standard
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