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Keep your cat cool during the summer months with our expert guide on warm weather.

Keep your cat safe from the sun

Many cats love soaking up the sunshine, choosing the warmest spots in the garden to enjoy. Make sure you take precautions to avoid your cat getting dehydrated or sunburnt. Overexposure can lead to skin cancer.

Provide plenty of shade both inside and out. From sheltered plant pots to cardboard boxes, these items offer makeshift sunshades for outdoor-loving moggies.
Think about planting shrubs or using cat hides and boxes in the garden. These help your cat hide away from the sun’s potentially harmful rays.

If your cat has white fur, try keeping them inside between 10am and 3pm, when the sun is at its hottest. Speak to a vet about suitable sunscreen for cats, to ensure they don’t suffer from sunburn.

Keeping your cat cool

Keeping your cat cool inside your home is important too. Place fans around the house to keep the air circulating, remembering not to point the fan directly at your cat.

Another handy tip is to 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 during hotter spells. Remember to ensure that your cat can get away from the bottle if they chose to, and make sure the bottle does not leak!

Should I use sun cream on my cat?

For cats most at risk, such as white cats or cats with thin or no hair, the answer is yes. Applying sun cream to vulnerable areas will offer protection and help prevent sun damage.

When choosing a sunscreen for your cat, use one specifically for pets and, if in doubt, speak to your vet for a recommendation. When applying, focus on your cat’s nose, tips of the ears, belly and groin areas as well as anywhere that has thin to no fur.

It is important when choosing a sun cream to avoid ingredients like zinc oxide and a group of chemicals that are referred to as salicylates. Repeated exposure to zinc oxide on the skin could lead to zinc toxicity, which can damage red blood cells, and it could also cause a stomach upset or allergic reaction if ingested. If eaten in large amounts, it could even cause stomach ulcers or liver problems, although this is rare.

Salicylates are products in the same category as aspirin, and cats are particularly susceptible to salicylate toxicity. Don’t forget to keep an eye on your own skincare products – keep them far out of paws’ reach!

What are the signs of salicylate toxicity?

Signs of toxicity include:

  • redness and irritation of the skin where the cream has been applied
  • if ingested, vomiting and diarrhoea

If you’d prefer not to use sun cream on your cat, try to limit their time in the sun and make sure they are taking breaks from the sunshine, especially during peak afternoon hours.

How can I tell if my cat is dehydrated?

When your cat does not take in enough fluid through drinking or eating a wet (canned) diet, your cat can become dehydrated. During the summer months, this is more likely to happen. Normal hydration is important for cats as it helps maintain a normal body temperature, removes wasteproducts and maintains proper circulation.

To assess whether your cat is dehydrated, look at our top tips:

  • Assess your cat’s gums. If your cat’s gums are sticky or tacky, this may be the first sign of dehydration
  • Test skin elasticity. In a well-hydrated cat, the skin should snap back into place immediately. If it doesn’t, it could well be dehydrated
  • Check your cat’s eyes. Severely sunken eyes that appear dry can indicate significant dehydration
  • Feel your cat’s paws. If the paws feel cool or cold, this could be a sign of dehydration
  • If dehydration is suspected, please seek veterinary advice

Ways to keep your cat hydrated

To prevent your cat from getting dehydrated, encouraging  them to drink water is key. Here are some ways to get your cat to drink more water:

  • Avoid plastic bowls. In the heat, these can taint the taste of the water. Use glass, ceramic or metal instead
  • Place water bowls away from food bowls. Cats don’t like to drink in the same place that they eat
  • Make sure the water bowl is large, with a big surface area too
  • Keep the water topped up so your cat doesn’t have to put their head into the bowl, and to make sure your cat isn’t left without any water at all
  • Many cats prefer running water, so try offering a cat fountain
  • Putting water bowls in different places around the house will help cats always find somewhere to drink
  • If your feed your cat tinned food, small amounts of water can be mixed into the food, which will increase fluid intake.

Find out more about cats and drinking.

Concerned about their health in the heat?

If you're worried about your cat's behaviour, or they're displaying signs of ill health, please speak to your vet immediately.
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