Updated: Jul 28, 2022
Whether you have an outgoing adventure cat or a homebody with a permanent perch by the window, the hot Canadian summers mean it’s time to supplement your cat’s routine with some cooling goods and services. Of course, most cats will pretend to be completely self-sufficient, but there are always ways to make their lives that much more enjoyable this summer! This week, we’re going over seven summer essentials to make your precious furbaby the coolest cat on the block.
While our kitties are generally better at self-care and less inclined to run themselves ragged compared to our dogs, they’re still susceptible to overheating just by being their lazy cat selves. Keeping an eye on your kitty throughout their summer activities is more than entertaining—it’s integral for their safety and wellbeing.
We’ve written a comprehensive blog on detecting signs of heat stroke in your dog or cat and how to treat it, but here are the two main signs you need to look out for:
Panting: just like dogs, cats sweat through their paws, not all over their bodies as we do. Seeing your cat do some heavy panting shows that they’re working hard to cool down by evaporating the sweat from their mouths. Try and get them to a cooler space and in front of a fan to help them chill out.
Signs of Dehydration: If your cat can’t seem to get enough quality time with their water dish, they may be overheating and dehydrated. Remember that when your cat drinks like a fish while not being exposed to warmer temperatures, it might be a sign of another more serious issue, like a urinary tract disease. Another major sign of dehydration is thick, sticky saliva—remember to have several clean and regularly refreshed water dishes around your home to avoid this.
Limiting sunbathing: Black cats are more susceptible to overheating as they absorb more heat, and lighter coloured cats are more susceptible to sunburns and skin cancers so time in the sun should be regulated.
It’s the height of summer, and my cat has never been so clean. Why are they grooming themselves so much?
If you’ve noticed your cat taking a particularly fastidious outlook towards their grooming regimen this summer, it’s a sign they’re taking their own temperature control seriously! As we mentioned, cats don’t sweat all over their bodies to cool down; instead, they provide their own make-shift sweat by bathing themselves regularly and cooling down from the evaporated saliva.
7 Summer Essentials for Cats
1. Cat Collar Tracker
If you have a kitty of the free-roaming variety, or maybe one who lunges for the door every time it opens, it might be time to invest in a tracking collar for your fearless feline adventurer. With the warmer summer months upon us, cats across Canada will be clamouring for some quality time in the sun. Make sure they don’t slip out of your sight or yard by giving them a little tracker to keep them within safety!
There are dozens of collar trackers on the market to choose from, so keep a few considerations in mind when shopping for your cat. First, many tracking collars are designed with dogs in mind, so look for one that is small enough to not hinder your kitty. Ideally, it should either attach to their current collar or come with a breakaway collar—an essential asset when you think about all the mischief our feline deviants can get into when unaccompanied.
Second, consider how far your cat typically goes when they escape and what kind of range you’ll want on your tracker. Bluetooth trackers are small, cheap, and handy, but they often lack the range and accuracy of GPS trackers. On the flip side, GPS trackers usually cost a bit more and often require monthly subscriptions. If you have an indoor cat who longs to be an outdoor cat and regularly practices their escape-artist skills, look for a tracker that allows you to set up a virtual fence and sends you a notification whenever your cat crosses it.
2. Harness and Leash Anchor
If you’re tired of blocking your cat from darting onto your lawn every time you take out the trash, try giving them what they want instead: time to enjoy the grass between their toes! But to ensure they don’t run off into the bushes, you’ll need a reliable way to secure them. Use a cat harness, a long leash, and an anchor stake to keep your kitty within the safe confines of your yard while still allowing them the freedom to explore.
This recommendation comes with two important caveats: first, ensure you get a cat-specific harness—a small dog harness simply won’t cut it! Our feline friends have unique escape skills (as you’re undoubtedly already aware) so getting a harness that fits them properly is of the utmost importance.
Secondly, a harness and leash anchor is no substitute for supervising your cat in the yard. Even if they don’t have a hope of escaping, you should always accompany your cat during their backyard excursions.
3. Safe Outdoor Spaces
Not having a yard for your cat to explore doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the sweet breezes of the great outdoors! Catios are a growing trend for pet parents who won’t deny their beloved fur children the outdoor experience they crave—plus, with the warmer summer weather, you’re likely to be spending more time on your balcony, so why not make it safe for your cat, too?
You can DIY your own catio with bite and claw-resistant netting (just make sure the mesh prevents your cat from jumping up on the railing—it’s the last place you want them to be practicing their catwalk.) Alternatively, you can find prefab kits of various sizes to accommodate your balcony space. Whichever style you provide to your spoiled feline, ensure they have access back inside or, at the very least, a shady spot to escape the heat.
4. Water Fountain
We’ve sung the praises of water fountains for cats before, but it never hurts to go over it again. Our cats evolved in the desert, meaning they’re conditioned to think of clean water as a relative scarcity. From lions to our household overlords, most cats have a low thirst drive because they normally get most of their fluid intake from their natural raw meat diet.
Of course, cats still drink when they need a little top-off, but millennia of desert living has taught them to prefer fresh, running water over stagnant sources—which is where water fountains come into play! When it comes to keeping your kitty happy and healthy throughout the oppressive heat of summer, you may have to trick them into staying hydrated with the burbling sounds of a cat drinking fountain.
When shopping for a cat fountain, look for one with high-quality, non-toxic, and dishwasher-safe bowls—stainless steel is a good option. Avoid plastic bowls, which can leach toxins, or ceramics, which can crack easier and aren’t always dishwasher safe. Our favourite cat fountain is the Catit Stainless Steel Flower Fountain, which has 3 settings so you can adjust the water flow to your cat’s preference. Finally, place their drinking station away from where they normally eat. This is another holdover from their ancient ancestors: your cat prefers to eat away from where they drink to avoid contaminating their water source.
5. A Quality Brush
Your cat needs their coat to help regulate their temperature—it protects them from sunburn, among other irritants. But that doesn’t mean a little bit of supplementary coat maintenance doesn’t go a long way in making your cat’s summer a little bit more enjoyable.
Long-haired cats, in particular, can benefit from a more consistent grooming routine over the summer. Use a comb to gently remove mats that may be developing, especially around their neck and at the base of their tail. Don’t hesitate to invest in a de-shedding tool either: they’re essential to remove loose hair from their thick undercoat, which helps keep your kitty cool while also stopping their fur from spreading around your house and wardrobe—call that a two-for-one!
For short-haired cats or kitties with sensitive skin who might not appreciate the more aggressive grooming of a deshedder, try using a grooming glove or a brush with silicone bristles to keep their coat healthy and cool in the summer months.
6. Cooling Mat
It’s a universal truth that your cat’s favourite spot is wherever there is a sunbeam. To make sure your kitty can still chill out and watch the world go by even in the summer heat, you might want to consider supplementing their domain with a cooling mat!
Cooling mats are often geared towards dogs, so pay attention to the sizing when you purchase—your cat doesn’t need a bed that would accommodate an Irish wolfhound! Cooling mats come in a few different varieties, the most common being gel and water-based mats, both of which have pros and cons.
Gel mats don’t require refrigeration and “recharge” 20–30 minutes after use. However, cats who love to chew might find the gel texture too tempting to resist, and even non-toxic gels (the only kind you should buy for your pet) can upset their little stomachs when ingested in large amounts.
On the other hand, while water-based mats need to be frozen to use, they’re a lot colder than gel mats, which might be useful if you live in a particularly hot area or don’t have air conditioning for your kitty. Make sure you get a durable cover for water-based mats and a protective layer underneath in case your cat’s claws cause it to leak.
7. Raw Bones
For the days when it’s too hot for your kitty to do their routine zoomies around the house, grab a raw bone to help them release some of that pent-up energy. Not only are raw bones an essential source of vitamins and minerals in your cat’s diet (plus they keep your kitty’s teeth clean), but they excel at offering your cat some mental stimulation while cooling them down after a full day of lounging in the windowsill.
While most pet parents associate raw bones with dogs, there’s no reason your cat can’t enjoy an extra-cold bone in the dead heat of summer. If your cat is new to bones, try holding it for them until they get the hang of gnawing on it. RDBK offers an expansive line of high-quality and ethically sourced bones that are perfect for your precious kitty!
Tackling the Heat Like a Pro
Your cat may still think they’re a lion on the open plains of the Savannah, but our little desert monsters still need some care and attention to handle the ever-warmer Canadian summers. In addition to the items on this list, don’t forget to close a curtain or two during the day to offer your cat some well-deserved respite from the sun. Did we miss one of your favourite tips or tricks for helping keep your cat cool? Let us know on Instagram or Facebook at @reddogbluekat—we’d love to hear from you!