Hot weather is coming soon, and I have a great back yard with a patio and swimming pool. My humans have it covered with screen that they call a bird cage. I think that's pretty funny because it keeps the birds out and the cat (me) in. I love to stay out there when the weather is nice, but in the summer it gets pretty hot. How do I know when to yowl at the door before I get overheated?
Precaution is a key issue here. Your people need to know that even though you might choose to sleep all day in a nice warm sun spot inside the house, you are protected from direct sun. It's much different if you're outside for long periods with the sun beating down on your favorite nap spot on the patio.
A good rule of paw is in a quote from Charles J. Brady: "The real measure of a day's heat is the length of a sleeping cat." Stretching your body as you nap helps you cool off.
Should you get trapped in the "cage" while everyone else is inside with the air conditioning, you need to get pretty creative with keeping your cool. A word of caution: stay out of the pool. Your people should install some sort of ramp in case you wander in for a quick swim and suddenly remember you don't know how to dog paddle.
Heat can cause serious harm to all critters. We all know animals should never have to stay in a hot car. Some of us know that cats can get sunburn because they don't have enough color pigment to protect their skin. A little sunscreen on the tips of the ears and on the nose will help if you really must be out there.
It is very important to monitor your reactions to the heat. Cats exhibit many of the same symptoms as dogs — or for that matter, humans — when they are overexposed to the sun. Panting, anxiety, increased heartbeat and lethargy are some of the early signs of heat stroke.
A few good safety tips for your people from Pets America (petsamerica.org) include:
• Get to know your pet's normal pulse and breathing patterns — it helps you recognize pending emergencies.
• Keep animals out of direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the day. If you're uncomfortable, your pet is uncomfortable
• Know the signs of heat stroke. Immediately wrap your cat with cool towels and offer an ice cube to lick for rehydration.
• Test the heat radiating from the sidewalk or street on your own bare feet.
— Fisher lives in Tampa Bay with her humans and loves to give advice. Send questions and a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ask-fisher.com.