Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mercury Rising

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.

I’ll be happier when I again need a blanket or two at night.


  1. About 24C and low humidity is perfect for our mom. Tomorrow's temp is supposed to be 44C with the humidex, in southeastern Ontario. With no a/c in the house, it's going to be bad.

    We hope you all stay as cool and as hydrated as possible, and we'll be doing the same!

  2. My two have been hot too, especially since we have no A/C, just fans. Garret does that same pose where his paws are straight out in front and he just looks like the rest of him is sunken down saying UGH. He also has an odd quirk where he'll sleep behind the drawn sliding door curtain on his window seat, but he'll outstretch his paw and push the curtain right up against the glass. I guess he thinks that helps!

    A basement sounds really good these days! I had to laugh about Josie throwing up down there because there's carpet. Mondo threw up over the heating register the other day and I had to pull it apart from the wall to clean up. Thanks Mondo. I'd never get mad though, just a bit baffled that he had to do it THERE of all places.

    Stay cool with your furbabies!

  3. Back to respond to your comment on our post today:

    "Where did the comfy, warm, pleasant summers of childhood go? Or did we just stand the heat better?"

    The mom grew up in Gaspe, Quebec, which is cooler anyway. And because the area was so small, there wasn't the radiant heat from all the urban concrete to trap the heat. That and climate does seem to go in cycles. And is getting worse with the almost-7 billion people on the planet. :-P

    -Nicki and Derry from Fuzzy Tales, under the mom's account