During the hot summer months, the most important things for pets (cats, dogs, rabbits, chickens or whatever little critters you have) outside are shade and water so if your cats are in a cat fence or other outdoor enclosure and can’t go wandering, you must provide them with cool shady places to hide from the sun and plenty of fresh water!
Kyle relaxes under the Batisia
As soon as the weather starts to warm up, my cats abandon their cozy enclosed winter shelters and start hanging out in their open beds and in the gardens under the bushes and other leafy plants…
Toby retreats into the gooseneck loosestrife
Now that it’s getting hot, Kyle Kitty and the other cats are hiding out all day in their favorite shady cool spots, laying on the cool earth or the straw that I spread out in some areas for them. We are lucky to have a lot of shady bushes and trees, and a couple of old buildings under which the cats can retreat from the elements. The old Cook House gets hot inside but it has a crawl space just big enough for the cats (which is Little Kitty’s favorite place to hide out) and it stays very cool under there even during the hottest summer months.
When I first moved here, before I had cats, we just had some trees. Over the years I’ve planted more trees and many shrubs that have grown nicely to provide a lot of shade for humans and critters. Some of my favorites, and the ones that provide nice shade for the cats, are mock orange, batisia, spirea, medium sized ornamental grass, hydrangeas, and gooseneck loosestrife. There are many others, of course, but those are just a few of our favs!
Pretty ceramic bowl from Spain
They also make a good pillow!
if the bowl is shallow enough, the cat doesn’t even have to get up… lol!
We have several of these awesome souffle dishes that are usually water bowls but which also make an excellent cat grass dish!
If you have a covered porch with an electrical outlet, you can get the awesome Drinkwell 360, like this one that our friend, Beau, is enjoying!
This planter filled with rain water, leaves, etc. Violet seems to love scummy water…
During the summer, I put extra water bowls around the yard near the cats’ favorite shady spots and fill them with fresh cool water every morning. Thick ceramic is the best because it’s not easily broken like glass, it doesn’t leach toxic chemicals and unpleasant odors into the water like plastic, and doesn’t heat up as quickly as stainless steel. And a heavy ceramic bowl, can’t be knocked over very easily.
A few other things to think about and/or remember during the hot summer weather:
- if you are hot, your pets are even hotter. They can’t take off their coats when the temps rise, turn on the faucet if they are thirsty, or run into an air conditioned building to cool off if they feel the need;
- never leave any species of pets (or human children…yeah, it happens) in a parked car, not even for a minute in the shade with the windows cracked open. This should be a no brainer but dogs, human kids, and probably also cats in carriers die in parked cars every summer, and the temps in cars can rise to a dangerous degree even during the spring. If you see a pet or kid in a parked car, call the police before it’s too late;
- enclosed buildings, such as a garage or shed, and dog houses can become like ovens during the summer, even if they are shaded by trees. We have an old barn/garage with 4 open bays and it even gets hotter inside the open areas. This is where Kinny sleeps and eats and usually hangs out but right now he heads for the bushes under the maple trees after his breakfast;
- don’t make your pets’ only water source a 5 gallon bucket. Yeah, some people do that…and buckets are easily knocked over… I’ve seen it right next door and on many occasions I had to fill up the neighbor dog’s knocked over water bucket because her people were oblivious, in July. Did I mention she was chained?
- if you feed feral cats that aren’t living near a natural water source, give them extra bowls of water during the summer;
- if you have cats with long hair, consider getting them shaved for the summer. Especially outdoor cats with long hair. I’ve read where this is not advised, but my Little Kitty, who has long, very thick fur…and hates to be brushed… is cute when she gets her lion cut but what’s more important is it’s obvious that she feels more comfortable after she’s shaved at the beginning of summer (and by winter all her fur has grown back to keep her warm);
- avoid walking, exercise and outdoor play except early mornings and after it cools down in the evening. If you have to take your dog out mid day, stick to the shade and don’t stay out very long. And remember to scoop the poop…
Check out the following links for more tips and info on keeping your pets safe during warm and hot weather: