Should I change my cat’s diet in the summer?

Beautiful blue skies, gentle warm breezes, trips to the ice cream van. 

There’s just so much to love about summer. 

What about the fact it can be a great time for your sun-worshipping feline, too?  

How many times have you caught your little sunbather resting their head in the sunniest part of the house or garden?

Lazy days in the sun are all good and well, but when temperatures do begin to rise it’s vital we keep an eye on how much they’re eating. 

How much less should I feed my cat in the summer?

You may have noticed that cats do naturally tend to eat less during the summer. We’ll get on to the why later, but unless you suspect deteriorating health as the reason there’s no need to start worrying just because you see the odd crumb being left in their bowl.

If you do have concerns over the amount your feline should be eating, or they are on a prescription diet for a medical condition, then you may want to pay extra attention to mealtimes when the warmer months begin.

Whenever we talk about a cat’s diet, it’s vital we focus on finding the right balance.

Felines need energy in order to go about their daily activities. This energy comes from the protein, fats, carbs, vitamins and minerals found in their food.

And that’s why regardless of whether it’s July or December, we would advise you just carry on feeding them the same amount you always do. If they eat it all, fantastic; if they leave a little, that’s fine, too. 

Rising temperatures can wreak havoc on appetite and energy levels so you will want to be mindful of that when the sun finally finds its hat.

Serving your feline food in the shade will not only prevent them from getting all hot and bothered while feasting, it will help keep their food fresh and appealing. 

Also, if you are feeding them outdoors be aware of any bugs or other animals that may make a beeline for an unguarded bowl. 

Why is it normal for a cat to want to eat less in warmer months?

  • They don’t need as much energy. It is thought cats expend less energy maintaining their body temperature in summer months. They are also more likely to spend really hot days lazing around the house or garden, which means a reduced menu may be all that’s necessary to satisfy their appetite. As the temperature begins to drop, felines are inclined to comfort eat so they have extra fuel inside their bodies in order to help keep them warm while playing out.
  • Lack of appetite. How often do you feel like eating a three-course meal during a summer heatwave? We can all start to lose our appetite when it’s hot outside, and it’s the same for our felines. As well as providing them with adequate nutrition to compensate for any drop in appetite, it’s crucial your cat has access to unlimited amounts of fresh, clean water.
  • Longer daylight hours. A cat’s behaviour can be directly affected by seasonal daylight changes. Longer daylight hours may influence their hormones or metabolism, resulting in decreased food-seeking exploits. The opposite can happen in winter when shortening daylight hours may trigger a primitive desire for more food in response to what cats perceive as a limited opportunity to feed during winter months.
  • They’re busy trying to stay cool. During summer months it’s perfectly normal for your cat to spend the majority of their time searching for shade so they can stay cool. That’s why you may not see them hovering around their food bowl as much when it’s warm out.

Time in the sun isn’t always a good thing

Although your cat’s feeding habits are likely to change in the summer, it’s important you monitor their intake in case the amount they’re eating drops below a healthy level. 

Too much time spent in direct sunlight can cause heatstroke, which is when the body struggles to control its temperature and begins to overheat.

It can be difficult for pet parents to spot the signs of heatstroke, but reduced appetite is a common symptom, as is panting, red or pale gums, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Heatstroke is extremely serious and if attempts to bring your cat’s body temperature down as quickly as possible fail, you should contact a vet immediately.

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