Keeping your cat cool and safe in a heatwave
31 July 2020
As another heatwave heads our way, it’s important to ensure your cat can keep cool and is protected from the danger of skin cancer.
Like us, cats can suffer damage from the sun’s rays. White cats or those with non-pigmented patches of skin, and older cats are all more susceptible than most to sun damage.
The most commonly affected areas are the ears, nose, and eyelids. The surrounding tissue is destroyed and sometimes the tumour can spread to the lymph glands and lungs, which is why it is important to protect your cat and to monitor him or her closely. Regular grooming is important to pick up early signs. It’s also a welcome treat for your cat during the hot summer days to have a good grooming session that will remove excess fur.
Early signs of skin cancer are the area turning pink, and sometimes hair loss and scaling. Continued damage can lead to crusting of the area which, if left untreated, can lead to skin cancer. The skin becomes very red and there may be ulcerated patches with raised, hardened edges. Bleeding can sometimes occur. If caught early and treated the outcome is usually good.
To avoid skin cancer becoming an issue, it is advisable to ensure that any cat susceptible to sun damage is kept indoors during the hottest or sunniest part of the day – Cats Protection recommends that cats are kept indoors between 10am and 3pm. Remember also that even on overcast days, UV levels can be high, so check out the local weather forecast for this information. If you can, try to create a shady part of your garden or outdoor space that is safe and pleasant for your cat to enjoy.
Luckily, there are pet friendly sun blocks that can be used. It is advisable to seek advice from your veterinarian about the best options. A human sunblock for babies is usually also considered safe for cats, but there are also specific products for cats. If using a human sunblock, opt for hypoallergenic, fragrance and dye-free products. Never use products containing zinc oxide as this can cause toxic side effects. If your cat has a rash or reaction to the sunblock, wash the product off.
Hot weather is challenging for cats and they need our help. Ensure your cat has somewhere cool and shady to relax. Access to plenty of water is also important. You can drop some ice cubes into their water bowl to help bring the temperature down. To ensure your cat regularly drinks water, make sure its water bowl is located away from the food bowl.
Some cats also enjoy being stroked with a cool hand, glove, or cloth. Alternatively, freeze a bottle of water, wrap it in a towel or pillowcase and place it somewhere your cat goes regularly. This stops them from feeling overheated. Remember to ensure that your cat can get away from the bottle if they choose to, and make sure the bottle does not leak.
More information about cats and warm weather can be found here: