Keeping Your Cat Cool in Summer
Knowing how to keep your cat cool – and how to spot the signs of overheating and dehydration – can help them safely enjoy the warmth.
Summer is the time to get outside with your cat. Just note that your cat will feel the heat before you do. It’s up to you to make sure your cat stays cool as the temperature soars during the long, hot summer.
Even in your home, cats can heat up quickly as temperatures rise. Ensuring your kitty is comfortable during the hotter months can help them avoid overheating and preserve their playfulness. From hydration to grooming to climate-controlled habitats, here are a few tips that will keep your cat cool, comfortable, and healthy all summer long.
Certain cats and breeds struggle with heat more than others and will require closer attention and extra care. The breeds most vulnerable to heat are:
- Short-nosed or flat-faced breeds have difficulty panting, meaning they cool down less quickly than other breeds.
- Long- or thick-haired breeds hold heat in longer and are more susceptible to overheating and dehydration than their short-haired friends.
- Overweight cats stay hot longer before cooling off and require more water to stay hydrated, though this is less common in kittens.
- Cats with health issues are more likely to get overheated and dehydrated, and could experience more serious health problems as a result.
Signs of Overheating
It can be difficult to tell if your kitty is staying cool and hydrated unless you know what to look for. Some signs that your cat may be dehydrated include:
- Dry mouth
- Decreased skin elasticity
- Dry and/or sunken eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Elevated heart rate
- Constipation and/or infrequent urination
Left unchecked, dehydration can lead to heat stroke or other serious conditions. If you see any of the following symptoms in your cat, get them to your vet immediately.
- Heavy, continuous panting
- Exhaustion or collapse
- Unusual or uncontrolled drooling
- Red tongue and lips
- Weakness and collapsing
How to Keep Your Kitty Cool
By following these simple tips, you can help your kitty stay cool as the weather heats up.
Keep Your Cat’s Bowl Full of Clean, Cold Water
There’s no such thing as having too much water available for your cat. In addition to having their regular water dish, place more water dishes around the areas they frequent most to encourage regular drinking. You can also drop in a few ice cubes to make the water cooler and more drinkable. Don’t forget to change the water daily to prevent the growth of bacteria and algae.
If your cat doesn’t appear interested in drinking from a normal water dish, a pet water fountain may also inspire your cat to drink more often by providing a constant stream of water.
Moist food and treats can also help prevent dehydration. You can freeze small meals in ice cube trays to give your kitty a cool snack.
Give A Little More TLC To Special Needs Cats
Senior cats, very young kittens, and sick or debilitated animals are more sensitive to hot weather. Keep these cats cool at all times and watch them closely for signs of heat-related illness. Try to schedule your veterinary appointments and outside activities early in the morning or late in the evenings so he won’t have to travel in a sweltering car during the hottest part of the day.
Kittens should always stay indoors during hot weather. If you need to bring your kitten outside for any reason, even if it’s for a car ride, make sure to keep the AC on and never leave them in the heat or direct sunlight.
Create a Kitty Oasis
High humidity combined with heat can put your cat at risk of heatstroke. On humid days, keep your home cool with fans or air conditioning. Outside, an inexpensive water mister can give cats a little relief.
Speaking of AC, cats that are kept indoors should always have a climate-controlled space to prevent overheating. If your cat seems hot even with the AC on, you can try freezing a bottle of water, wrapping it in a towel and leaving it in lounge areas to give your kitty a cool spot to relax.
Ceiling fans, box fans and pedestal fans are also great for improving air circulation around your home. If your space feels warm even with the AC on, run a fan in the places your cat spends their time during the hottest part of the day.
Never Leave Your Cat Alone In A Car
Quick trips to the store always take longer than you expect. Leaving the windows cracked won’t help keep him cool, either. On a summer's day of only 85 degrees, the inside car temperature will shoot up to 120 degrees (F) in a matter of minutes even with the windows slightly open.
Check Your Screens For Tears And Secure Fit
Cats like to stay cool on the windowsill, especially during warm weather. A cat leaning against a loose or improperly fastened screen, however, may fall. Use safety screens on all open windows and make sure they are installed properly.
Perform Regular Grooming
Every cat needs frequent grooming to maintain a healthy coat – and prevent hairballs. Whether your kitty is a short-haired or long-haired breed, brushing them weekly helps keep their fluff at a minimum and reduces the chance of overheating.
For long-haired breeds especially, you might consider a trip to the groomers for a professional clipping, which can make a big difference in how they handle the heat.
Wipe with a Wet Cloth
Kittens release body heat from their paw pads, armpits, bellies, and around their chin and ear areas. This is why mama cats often groom or bathe their kittens to keep their litter cool.
While a bath works wonders to lower your kitten’s body temp, it may not be excited about bath time (like most cats). If this is the case with your kitten, try gently wiping down their hottest areas with a cool, damp cloth to add moisture to their fur.
Plan Your Playtime
Young cats are full of energy and always appreciate a good play session. But hotter temperatures can make playtime dangerous. To keep your fur baby cool and active, limit your interactive playtime to early mornings and evenings.
With these tips in mind, your kitty will be able to get their daily exercise – and stay healthy and cool in the process.
Remember, summer is a fun season for one and all. With just a few precautions, you can be sure you and your cats will beat the heat.