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Cats and Hot Weather
Cats love nothing better than to lay in sunspots on a carpet. Catching a few morning rays, they are the picture of ultimate relaxation. But, as summer months approach and temperatures start climbing, kitty is going to be exposed to the dangers of heat stroke (hyperthermia). She will instinctively search for cooler spots to spend her time. Here are some ways in which you can help kitty beat the heat and make her life bearable in hot weather.
Nylon tunnels are fairly inexpensive at a kidís toy store. Set up the tunnel on the floor, be sure and secure it so it wonít roll or blow away. Next, place a small fan on a chair in front of the tunnel with the blades directed in a downward pattern. In front of the chair, have a large pan, inside the pan place a large block of ice. Turn the fan on low, directing the fan on the bowl of ice. Be sure the air is blowing into the tunnel. Unlike trying to cool down an entire room, the air blowing into the tunnel is condensed and therefore, considerably cooler. Kitty can lie inside the tunnel, keeping her cool.
Invest in large, shady potted plants. Make sure they will provide ample shade for kitty and not be toxic to her should she decide to taste-test the leaves. Check with your local poison control center for a list of toxic houseplants.
Bathtub fun- Fill your bathtub with about two inches of cold water. Place a rug over the side of the tub, so kitty can easily find traction. Tack the rug down to the side of the tub with adhesive gum. Float ice cubes, ping pong balls or lightweight waterproof cat toys in the tub to peak kittyís interest. If you donít have a bathtub, you can achieve the same purpose using a large Rubbermaid container. Just be sure to anchor it down so it wonít flip over and leave a mess. A childís kiddy pool is a perfect place for kitty to stay cool. If you have the room, set up the pool, put in a few inches of water, and place a large rock in the center, so kitty can get out of the water if she wants. Ping pong balls floating around the pool make a wonderful diversion.
If your home is carpeted, provide kitty with cooler places to lie down. Visit a tile store and ask for any sample tiles that are being discontinued. Explain that they donít need them to match, and you only need about twenty of them. Marble cutting boards work as well, although they can be expensive.
Next, purchase a piece of chipboard at the hardware store. Cut it so that it makes a nice perch for kitty. Glue the tiles to the chipboard. When the glue dries, set this on the floor for kitty to find. She will welcome the coolness of the tile over the hot carpet.
Keep your air conditioner running throughout the day for the ultimate in comfort.
Leave your plug out of your sink and turn on the water just to a trickle. The noise of the water will bring kitty in to investigate. She will play with the water.
If you have a pet fountain, float a ping pong ball inside the dish. The ball will move and bob in the flow and kitty will be entertained. You can also put a ping pong ball inside the reservoir.
Instead of giving ice water to kitty on hot days, simply provide her with clean, cold water daily. Keep on hand several bottles of chilled Pedialyte (unflavored) add this to the water in the bowl daily.
If the temperature inside your home reaches 90 degrees, kitty will start panting. This is her first attempt to maintain her body temperature. She will also start to over-groom herself in an attempt to lower her body temperature. Once the saliva dries on her fur, she will begin to cool down.
You may notice when she walks across your tile floor, you will see moist paw prints left. Cats sweat through their foot pads. If your home is hot, and you donít see moist paw prints, that should raise concern.
She may dig a large hole in her litter pan and park herself inside. Cats are originally desert-dwelling creatures. They instinctively know that the sand will bring welcome relief.
Put up decorative garden trellis sheeting to cut down on the sunís rays. Available at any home supply store, cut the sheets to fit your windows. Anchor each four corners with screws. The sheeting will bend to fit around the screws, you donít need to actually screw the sheeting into place.
The decorative pattern in each sheet will filter out the worst of the sunís rays and provide relief to your cat if you keep your curtains or drapes open in the daytime. Plus, you can leave your windows wide open as well and your cat canít escape.
If you allow your cat access to your balcony be sure the balcony is properly screened so she canít fall off. Place large potted plants around the balcony to provide shade, or use those inexpensive cardboard screens that hide litter pans to create a shady cave for kitty. Duct tape the screens together for stability.
The only way to determine if kitty is running a fever is to take her temperature, rectally.
A catís normal temperature ranges between 100 -102.5 degrees. If you see your cat in any of the following sign of distress; drooling, shortness of breath, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, your kitty should be wrapped up in a cool damp towel and rushed to the vet.
Once the kittyís core temperature rises, her bodily fluids are quickly used up and she dehydrates.
You can check for dehydration several ways: roll kittyís bottom eyelid down. You should see moisture pool up in the lower lid. No moisture, kitty needs a vet!
Check kittyís mouth, press your finger lightly against her gums (which should be pink and happy) Your print should leave an impression for about a second then the gums pink up again. If they stay pale, or appear streaked or white, get kitty to the vet now.
The final way to check for dehydration, is while kitty is at rest, gently pick up the scruff of her neck, without lifting her body. Pinch the scruff lightly, release. The skin should fold down within seconds. If it remains in a pinched position- get your cat to the vet!
Summer is a time of relaxation and fun. But as the warmer months approach, be on the alert for any heat- related problems. If you find that your kitty is in the middle of heat stroke, place an ice cube on kittyís head while she is being transported to the vet. If you put her inside a carrier for transport, be sure and place her on a cold, wet towel to help lower her body temperature. Keeping a cool head about you will allow you to enjoy your summer with your cat!