In hot weather, we shed a few layers, cool ourselves with icy drinks, take a dip in a pool, and seek comfort in the shade. But what about our cats? They can’t peel off their heavy fur coats for relief from the soaring temperatures. So how can we help cats to cope in the heat of summer?
Though cats wear fur coats, they keep cool in summer by seeking cool areas. You can prevent your cat from overheating when temperatures soar by ensuring it can access cool areas, has plenty of water, and avoids laying directly in the sun. We list the dos and don’ts of keeping cats cool.
Discover how to keep your cat cool, what not to do, and how to recognize heatstroke and what to then.
How do cats keep themselves cool?
Laying on their backs
On a really hot day, you might notice your cat sprawled on its back, legs akimbo, completely still. Take heed … this is not an invitation for you to tickle its tummy.
Your cat is letting out the heat and staying motionless to prevent any more heat from building up. Don’t disturb it as you will prevent it from cooling down in its own, natural way.
Your cat should naturally drink more water in hot weather to help keep its temperature down.
Believe it or not, your cat’s fur actually helps to keep it cool. The insulating qualities it has that keep it warm in cold weather also keep heat out in hot weather.
Although they are sun worshippers who love heat, cats naturally seek out cool or shady areas on hot days.
On really hot days, cats will naturally sleep more than usual. This is because the less active they are, the cooler they stay. So don’t disturb your cat unless it’s an older cat and you are worried that it is not drinking enough.
Most of a cat’s sweat glands are in its paw pads. These do not really provide a large enough surface area to dissipate heat so cats also lick their fur to cool down. As their saliva evaporates, it has a cooling effect.
14 Tips to keep cats cool in summer
Though cats instinctively do their best to keep cool, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure they can’t overheat. As a rule of thumb, think about how comfortable you feel in a room.
If you are coping with the temperature, your cat will be. If it is unbearable for you, your cat will be feeling the effects of the heat too.
Put water down in favorite places
On hot days, place a dish of water by each of your cat’s favorite spots. Add a few ice cubes to each to prevent the water from warming up but not enough that they are protruding from the surface and watch that they don’t eat them.
Consider getting your cat a drinking fountain as the movement keeps the water cool. The isYoung Cat Fountain is very popular at the moment (follow the link to see reviews in Amazon.)
Keep your cat inside
If your cat usually spends time outside, consider keeping it in on really hot days and make sure it has access to the coolest areas in your home.
Give access to cold floors
If you have
Draw your curtains
If your cat chooses to sleep in a particular room where the sign shines through the window, close the curtains or blinds to prevent the sun from heating up the room.
Allow air to circulate
Open all the windows if there is a breeze to let air circulate. Check your cat can’t escape, of course.
Use a fan
If you have a ceiling fan, obviously, switch it on as your cat will enjoy the breeze it creates. If you don’t have any ceiling fans, use a freestanding fan but make sure it is stable.
Use air conditioning
If you have air conditioning, leave it on in the room your cat uses. You don’t have to make the room chilly just cool enough for comfort.
Cold counter tops
Your cat will probably be drawn to any granite or marble surfaces in your house because their coolness is refreshing. Don’t worry about hygiene – your cat’s comfort in the heat should be your concern. You can easily clean the counter later!
Ice packs or cool mats
If you have the ice packs, freeze them, and place them below your cat’s favorite bedding- make sure they are well covered. This will provide a lovely cool place to sleep. Or you could invest in a self-cooling mat (see reviews on Amazon.)
Wet a towel and wring it out. See if you can get your cat to sleep on it to reduce its body temperature. Or you can stroke your cat with a damp towel or wet hands to give relief from the heat.
Wet shower floor
After you’ve showered you may notice your cat wants to lie on the wet floor. Let it do this if it wants to because it is a great way to cool it down.
Even when you fill your enamel coated bath with hot water have you noticed how cold the parts the water doesn’t reach feel to your skin?
On a really hot day, this type of bath surface is wonderfully cool to the touch. Your cat will appreciate this refreshing experience. Wet the surface to add to the cooling effect.
Cats love sleeping in basins. This is because they have a nice cool surface and feel safe. Encourage your cat to nap on one on a hot day.
Daily grooming is a good idea in hot weather as it removes loose fur and helps to keep your cat cool. It also stops your cat from ingesting too much hair which in turn prevents furballs.
Things to avoid
Gel cool packs
Don’t attempt to cool your cat using gel-filled cool packs or those containing anything other than clean water. If your cat punctures one, or it leaks for any other reason, the contents could be poisonous.
Conservatories can overheat dangerously in extremely hot weather and prove very dangerous, particularly for senior or unwell cats. Close these areas off unless they are well ventilated.
If you have a greenhouse, make sure your cat can’t get in it. It doesn’t have to be a particularly hot day for a glasshouse to overheat to a temperature that is dangerously high to a cat.
If your cat has access to the outside world, have a good look around for any receptacles that may have collected rainwater which may have gone stagnant.
In extremely hot weather a thirsty cat will drink any old water. Be particularly careful if you have a birdbath as the water in those can harbor all kinds of bacteria.
Don’t allow your cat to lie in the sun even on a breezy day. Cats can suffer from sunburn so if yours is out and about when it’s sunny, consider using a cat sun cream – ask your vet for details.
Some people have long-haired cats shaved when it’s really hot but this is not necessary. A slight trim is OK but avoid a lion cut if your cat goes outside as its risk of sunburn will be extremely elevated.
Don’t play with your cat if the temperature is high. You will just be helping it to overheat. Help your cat to stay cool by keeping everything it needs in close proximity and in the coolest area of your home: food, drink, bed,
Outdoor areas with no shade
Don’t leave your cat in an outside area where there is nowhere to keep cool. Catios and cat cages can become overheated by the sun and provide no safe haven.
If your cat rides in the car with you for any reason, never leave it in the car – not even for a few minutes. It takes hardly any time for the temperature inside a car to sore to a dangerously high level.
Often hot weather brings out biting insects. Make sure you cat is always protected from these by spot on treatments.
Heatstroke in cats
A cat’s body temperature should be somewhere between 100.5 and 102.5° F. It’s not easy to measure a cat’s temperature at home but if you want to get an idea of this, the easiest way is with an ear thermometer.
This isn’t as accurate as a rectal measurement but can give you a good idea. If you take a note of your cat’s temperature in cool conditions you can use this is a guide to see if its temperature is higher than it should be in hot weather.
Signs of heatstroke in cats and how to treat it
If your cat is suffering in the heat, it will be very restless, drooling, panting, licking its fur excessively, have sweaty paws and its temperature will begin rising above 102.5° F.
At this stage, move your cat to a cool area and encourage it to drink cool water and check its temperature to ensure it returns to normal.
If your cat’s body temperature rises to 105° F, it will show further signs of heatstroke which include:
- Rapid breathing
- Racing heart rate
At this stage apply cool (not cold) water to your cat, give it water to drink, and then take it to your vet for further
If left untreated heatstroke can quickly cause a cat to collapse and become comatose.
If you find a cat in this advanced stage of heat stroke, soak it quickly with cool water, apply cold compresses to its limbs and immediately go to your vets.
Cats can live in any climate as long as relevant adjustments are made to their environment. It is important to prevent dehydration in hot weather by encouraging them to drink plenty of water and ensuring they spend as much time as possible in cool areas.