Southern Alberta is usually hot in the summer. It can be very hot. I prefer temperatures no warmer than 20 degrees Celsius, and it’s been in the high 20s and even into the 30s for a few days now. The spring was wet and cool, even chilly. Then, as has happened the last few years, we pass a point at which that weather vanishes and is replaced by heat and aridity.
Cats feel the heat, just as humans do. I am never sure, however, how much they feel it or how badly it affects them. After all, these are animals covered in fur - in many cases, a great deal of fur - and who nonetheless lie in the sun. Surely, the high temperatures are doing them no good, perhaps even harm.
Activity is reduced. Play is more desultory than dedicated, and the cats lie about more than usual, which is a great deal to begin with.
Fortunately, the basement of my house is permanently cooler than the ground floor. It can feel somewhat close and airless, but from the heat it is a refuge that I’ve used recently myself. Josie and Renn seemed to like the basement from the beginning. It’s where my Chubs usually heads when she wants to throw up. After all, it has carpeting. But since I’ve installed a couple of comfortable armchairs there, those two seem to curl up in them more frequently than anywhere else. That’s fine by me, especially if it keeps them cool. I have a large bowl of water in the downstairs washroom for their convenience. It’s Josie’s preferred source of water; Renn likes to stare at the contents.
I worry more about Tungsten and Tucker. They rarely go to the basement, though they have been there and know it’s cooler than the rest of the house. The orange one will come down when she’s missing me, and consent to lie on my lap, if I’m at the computer, which isn’t often. Tucker is an upstairs cat. Thus, the two of them probably feel the heat more than their housemates.
I can tell that Tungsten is warm when she would rather lie on the floor than on my lap. She also stretches her forelegs in front of her when she’s feeling the heat. She likes lying on top of the refrigerator these days, as she can, I think, feel any air moving in through the open window by the dining table.
Tucker likes being horizontal on the linoleum or hardwood. He will lie with his stubby front legs stretched before him, his head in between, as if he’s giving obeisance to some invisible cat deity. He also reclines on the window sill of the back parlour, though all the cats like lying on the sill of an open window.
Their behaviour at night, too, changes with the temperature. They no longer sleep on the bed with me, though Tungsten starts out there, and most of them wind up there on weekend mornings when I sleep late and the morning is the coolest part of the day. My orange one finds it all most suspicious as I can’t bear even the flimsiest sheet on such warm nights, and Tungsten thinks there is something amiss when a blanket is not covering me. She approaches the situation cautiously, and lies down in her usual spot warily. And I can’t have her rear paws in my hand, as I usually do at night, since she stretches her legs out to disperse the heat.
There is water by the food bowl upstairs and I leave a shallow bowl in the basin of the upstairs bathroom. I do that because Tungsten will go to that basin and wait for water to be run from the tap. She disdains sitting water - as long as I am present to run some for her - but I’ve seen her, when impatient, lick drops from the bottom of the basin. So I decided to put a larger amount there. For the first few days that this was done, I was certain she had been drinking from it, as she did not immediately go to the basin for me to run water for her upon my return from work every day. She has recommenced that, though I think she still sneaks water from the shallow bowl. However she gets the fluid, I’m happy, as long as she is drinking.