Cats and water are not a great duet. A self-respecting cat won’t allow his shiny fur to get wet after carefully grooming it all morning. What can you do though, when there’s hot weather on the horizon and even the darkest corner under the bed doesn’t give you a chance for a cool breeze? Well… in such circumstances even cats can get along with water.
The topic of cat’s direct contact with water should be taken, dear fabCats, with a grain of salt. The fact is that our furry companions can feel more thirsty in the summer months and be more willing to get to their water bowl to empty it every day. However, the solution to their problems won’t be a bath which is very stressful for most cats, unless we’re talking individuals who willingly jump into the pool. How can we, as hoomans, help our cats in summer weather and make it easier for them to survive the hot weeks?
Water bowl or fountain - there’s no such thing as too much water in the summer
Cats don’t have a strong instinct to reach for water and if they’re on a wet food-only diet, it’s often that they won’t touch their bowl of water at all. In the summer, just as for every other being on planet Earth, cats’ water intake requirements get higher. It’s your job, dear fabCats, to convince your kitties that water is safe and it’s good to drink it.
We know it may be difficult. Our boys don’t drink that much water as they are on a wet food diet. However, there’s always at least two bowls of water set around our house, regularly refilled with fresh, filtered water. In the summer months you can have even more bowls - we recommend one for every room. Additionally you can add some water to their food (or a homemade broth from meat, no spices or bone), making it a few extra milliliters of water for the cat.
What’s worth highlighting here, cats are notorious for their independence and having their strict preferences - that includes their bowls as well. Beside the traditional metal or ceramic bowls that are available in pet stores, we recommend you try standard dessert bowls, plastic containers, or even flower pots filled only with clean water. If your cats show interest in a flowing water stream and they’re always curious about the water filtering jug or tap water, a fountain might be a fantastic choice.
Colder rooms are better for naps
Bathroom, hallway, a basement - colder rooms are generally better for a cat nap. Why? They’re usually far away from the exterior walls of the house, often without direct sunlight, so they don’t get hot as easily as a living room or a bedroom full of windows. Additionally, if there are tiles on the floor, laying down right there can be a huge relief for a cat on a hot day. Teddy and Kitku Yoda can sleep for hours on end on the floor. It’s worth getting ready for the summer season earlier and securing all the dangerous spots in your bathroom or basement, so that when the time comes, you can leave them open for your cat at all times.
Bathrooms have one more, additional benefit. Have you ever tried laying down in a bathtub, touching its smooth and cold surface with your bare skin that’s been out in the sun? It’s usually pleasantly cooling, even if there’s no water in. A curious cat who discovers the great benefits of a bathtub will definitely be going back to it regularly. Our own Kitku Yoda likes to play in it as well. Let’s just hope they won’t jump inside when we’re running the water and getting an aromeowtic, relaxing bath ready :)
Nighttime pursuits and afternoon snooze
Cats love sleeping and with high temperatures outside, we can expect them to sleep most of their summer days. Many cat Guardians, among you - fabCats - as well, may notice that in the summer cats may be a little bit more annoying at night. There’s no surprise here though - if they’re sleeping through the entire day, the nighttime is when they try to cool down, get moving and eat. This makes it more important than ever to keep their daily routines up and allow a cat to have a fun chase after their favourite toy right before your bedtime or early in the morning.
Tip: If your cat is waking you up at dawn, because they’ve slept all day and in the night they’re more willing to play, a good idea will be to set around the house a few sniffing toys with snacks, as well as some that your cat can safely play with on their own (like our Kung Fu Cat Toy).
Water sports for active kitties
Aversion for bathtime doesn’t have to mean that cats will never dare to wet their paws a little. For those curious ones, looking for a fun way to play without getting tired, we recommend water sports that you can DIY at home. Fill a shallow bowl or a small toy pool with water and put some light, floating toys in (e.g. balls). If a cat wants to play and fish them out, wetting their paws will always be a great way to cool down a little. A great idea would also be to make some floating dishes (e.g. with aluminum foil) and putting snacks on them or dropping a few ice cubes into the water. When melting, they’ll be swimming around and that should peak your cat’s interest.
Cat grooming in the summer
Now we’re getting to a point where some cat Guardians often make mistakes in the summer. It’s not a matter of them wanting to hurt their pets, but rather a natural thought that water can cool down our bodies. Although it’s certainly true, a bathtime won’t be a great solution for cats. Beside the great stress it could cause to put a cat in the bathtub and completely soak their fur, baths will upset the natural thermoregulating functions of a cat’s body. It’s the thick fur coat that is supposed to protect cats from cold in the winter and sunburn in the summer. Cats will additionally groom themselves against the natural direction of the hair growing, which helps with air circulation and cools the body down. If a cat was wet, all those procedures wouldn’t be as effective and the cat’s body could temporarily lose its ability to properly thermoregulate.
An equally bad idea would be to shave a cat or trim their hair for a “summer hair-do”. Once again, it’s the matter of removing the cat’s natural protective barrier. Shaving can cause problems with the fur regrowing and creates risk for sunburns. If a bath or shaving is not necessary and recommended by the vet (e.g. because of skin issues), let’s not cause our kitties unnecessary stress.
What can you do then? Combining through the fur and getting rid of the excess old undercoat is definitely a must. With freshly combed and fluffy fur, there’s much more room for air circulation against the skin. When the temperatures are really high, you can additionally get your cat a cooling mat and place it on the floor or, using home equipment, replace it with a slightly damp and cold towel spread on the tiles in the bathroom or the hallway.
Don’t force it
After a long wintertime, summer is definitely a long awaited time, both for hoomans and pets. We have to keep in mind, though, that while we can reach for a refreshing lemonade or ice cream, for cats or dogs it’s more natural to just hide in a dark, cool space and wait until the evening to do anything. Let’s not force them into an intensive playtime. Or to eat in the middle of the day when nobody has an appetite for anything. During those toughest, hottest days let’s just be the best cat helpers - support them, observe them, but give the space to be themselves. Cats and kittens will definitely give you, dear fabCats, the biggest dose of love and hugs for it.
Are your cats best friends with water, or is it rather a proverbial cat-dog relationship - the farther, the better? On hot days even the biggest feline enemies of water may be tempted to get a small meowhito and, if it’s properly served, have some refreshing sips of water with catnip. It’s great to encourage them to do so, as overheating and sunstrokes are just as possible for cats as they are for people. Let us know in the comments how your cats are dealing with the heat. Or maybe you have some solutions that will make the summer not a problem for them at all?