The Cat Days of Summer

Cats don’t pant as much as dogs do, but this doesn’t mean that their cooling and hydration requirements are any less – especially during the summer month.

This is why Alley Cat Allies, the national cat advocacy organization, is offering these tips for protecting felines from the summer heat:

Provide cats extra water.

Cats need lots of water in the summer so it’s important to make sure they have enough to drink by making water available at all times. Try using multiple bowls or pet water fountains. You can prevent evaporation by using deep bowls instead of shallow ones and refilling them as needed.

Water can be kept cool by keeping it in the shade and by adding a few ice cubes (some cats love to play with the ice). Feeding cats wet food instead of dry food, or adding a little water to kibble, will also help keep cats from losing essential fluids. Alley Cat Allies offers plans on how to build your own food and water station for outdoor cats at HERE.

Use bug-proof food dishes.

In the summer, insects can be a challenge. You can deter insects by purchasing bug-proof cat dishes or by creating your own. Place a food dish in a plate of water to create a “moat” to keep out insects.

You can also prevent pests by pouring a ring of baking soda around the water dish to keep out ants or by placing copper tape, found at hardware stores, around the dish to keep out slugs and snails. Dry food will attract fewer bugs than wet food, and elevating dishes off the ground will help too. Find more tips for feeding cats outdoors HERE.

Provide a cool, shady place to rest.

As much as cats enjoy sunshine, they know to head toward the shade when temperatures heat up. You can help cats out this summer by providing a shaded place for them to cool down. This can be in a shed or under a deck, or you can buy or make an outdoor shelter.

Alley Cat Allies has examples and photos of cat shelters as well as shelter building plans HERE — including how to build a “5-minute shelter” using a Styrofoam cooler. Remember to always place shelters on cool surfaces like grass, as pavement can heat up and burn cats’ paws.

Brush your cats to help them lose their thick winter coats.

Extra fur helps cats stay warm in winter, but they need to shed that hair when summer comes. You can help by giving your companion cats a daily brushing. A good brushing will help you bond with your cat and keep them from shedding that extra fur on furniture.

For community cats, you can provide a self-grooming brush for them to rub against. Commercial products are available, but you can make your own. Observe the cats and select a corner that they like to rub against and note how high up from the ground they rub. Then take two sturdy wooden brushes with plastic bristles – such as for cleaning floors – and mount one on each side of the corner at the correct height. Now when the cats rub against that corner, they’ll be rubbing themselves against the brush! A healthy coat will protect each cat from sunburn and skin cancer too.

If a cat is panting and in distress, call the veterinarian!

While a cat’s natural body temperature is somewhat higher than a person’s, over-heating is still a problem. If your cat seems highly troubled by the heat, get help instead of trying to cool her yourself. A veterinarian can provide medication or IV fluids if needed.

Stay cool this summer – you and your 4-legged friends.

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