Chateau Cat

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Chateau Cat
Dog Days, Cool Cats, Chillin’ In Summertime

Summer brings the so-called ‘dog days,’ but it’s cats who especially need to stay cool as the temps sizzle.

Cats actually can keep pretty cool on their own, one of the many amazing things about felines. Their busy tongues not only keep their coats clean, but help regulate their body temps—fluffing up their coats for warmth in winter, slicking them down with saliva in summer.

While dogs  accompany their owners on summer errands, cats are masters of the ‘staycation,’ opting for the joys of a fan-cooled or air-conditioned home instead of visiting the Grand Canyon or Aunt Lisa.

But if you MUST take your cat out in the car, never ever leave her unattended in a parked car, even with the windows cracked, even for just a few minutes (in some states, this is now illegal, punishable by a hefty fine).When temperatures hit 70 degrees and above, a car becomes a blast furnace faster than you can say “Meow.” That searing heat you feel on your steering wheel is lethal to cats. If you must leave the car, bring your cat—secured in her carrier where she has fresh water and a chilled, rolled-up washcloth—with you. Inconvenient, yes, but what’s inconvenience compared to a safe cat?

If you have to travel with Kitty, aim to drive during the cooler evenings or overnight, or very early in the mornings before the sun takes charge. But if at all possible, let your cat stay home. A pet sitter, family member or friend can care for her till you return—and she’ll be grateful you spared her an uncomfortable ride.

Make an extra bowl of fresh available, and pop in a few ice cubes too. Free-flowing pet fountains are fun and encourage cats who enjoy playing with moving water to lap up more of it.

If your home has sunny exposure, adjust shades or blinds so the cats won’t be hit with a wall of heat when they sneak up on your furniture or perch near the windows. Secure all screens too: Even a tranquil cat can get excited by a passing bird and may shove the screen out to explore. Double screens help, and there are even ‘cat screens,’ specially designed to keep inquisitive felines safe in summer.

Just as cats in winter seek out a stray sunbeam,dozing in its warmth, in summer, cats look for the coolest spot in the house. Kitchen and bathroom tile floors are favorites, and some cats prefer an empty bathtub or sink (The popular site  shows how many felines choose that smooth cool sensation).

Even if cats don’t perk up at the sound of the neighborhood ice cream truck, they can enjoy their own version of a seasonal icy goodie. Freeze ice cubes layered with bits of treats or food. Got a sno-cone machine? Scoop some shaved ice into your cat’s dish, then drizzle the ‘juice’ from canned cat food over it for a feline sno-cone. Freeze small chunks of canned food, letting cats lick them for cooling nutrition. Offer a tablespoonful of plain yogurt, topped with bits of crushed dry food, for a ‘feline sprinkles’ sundae.

For cats, summer is all about being cool and conserving energy. We should all be so wise.

Image via Shutterstock/Nailia Schwarz

Kathy Blumenstock

Kathy Blumenstock

Kathy Blumenstock has been passionate about animals since childhood, when she had dreams of becoming a veterinarian - caring for injured animals that showed up in her family backyard - or a jockey (fueled by reading every book about horses in the library). She's been featured in The Washington Post, USA Today, Entertainment Tonight and TV Week.

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