Written by Andria Kennedy
No one enjoys the dead of summer. You know those days: the sun feels inches away, you can’t stop sweating, and ice cubes in your glass don’t last three seconds. You attempt every trick in the book to beat the heat. What about your cat, though? You may be sweltering, but they’re wearing a fur coat! Not to worry, this handy list of 12 tricks will help you keep your cat cool and refreshed all summer long.
- Tips for Keeping the Indoor Cat Cool in the Summer
- Tips for Keeping Outdoor Cats Cool in Hot Weather
- Tips for All Cats to Stay Cool in the Summer
- The Dangers of Heatstroke
- Bring on Summer!
Tips for Keeping the Indoor Cat Cool in the Summer
Indoor cats need to worry about staying cool in the summer every bit as much as outdoor cats. Think about it: you sweat inside and reach for a glass of lemonade, right? If you’re feeling the oppressive heat, so’s your kitty. And while switching on the air conditioner sounds easy, what if you don’t have one? Easy – reach for one of these simple tips.
1. Water, Water Everywhere
The best way to help your cat stay cool during the summer is to keep them hydrated. Cats don’t drink well, normally. Add heat to the mixture, and they start down a rocky road. Encouraging your four-legged friend to drink appropriately is one of the easiest ways to keep that body temperature in the normal range. And it’s a simple task:
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- Add extra water bowls around the house
- Switch on a faucet
- Toss a few ice cubes into the bowl
- Choose glass, ceramic, or metal bowls over plastic
Cats love cool, fresh water. The more water sources they encounter, the more likely they are to drink. Make sure you avoid putting the bowls in sunlight, as the water will get too warm. (Cats aren’t fond of tea – no offense to Lewis Carroll) And don’t forget: running water encourages cats to drink.
2. Roll Up the Rug
Have you ever felt the chill of the bathroom tiles against your bare feet? Ceramic, marble, and even wood floors don’t hold heat. This makes them the perfect resting place for warm cats. When summer creeps in, my cats make a beeline for the bathroom. They prefer the tile directly in front of the air vent to their beds. If you have such flooring available, tuck rugs out of the way so your kitty can stretch out. The tile will pull extra warmth from their body.
No tile? Bathtubs and sinks work equally well. (Make sure the water’s off, though, or your cat might not appreciate the gesture)
3. How Low Can You Go?
Lower floors, especially basements or underground spaces, remain cooler throughout summer days. The lack of penetrating light, the surrounding earth to diffuse heat, and stone or cement walls create cool retreats. Let your cat escape to the bottom of the house when summer rolls around. And don’t worry – they’ll come back to rejoin you during the evening when temperatures ease up again. (Or you can always join them in the chill!)
4. Let the Air In
Opening the windows may sound simple, but creating ventilation is one of the easiest ways to keep your cat cool during the summer. Whether you add a fan to keep the air circulating or not, preventing air stagnation does wonders for the internal house temperature. If you have screens in place, you’ll allow your cat to relax in the airflow without inviting all of the insects in the neighborhood. Better yet, allow your cat to safely spend time on the balcony.
If you’re worried about your cat escaping – or falling if you live in an upper apartment – look into children’s locks for the windows. You’ll still get that crucial ventilation without presenting a hazard to your kitty. Just beware if you have tilt and turn windows as a cat can get stuck in it and you don’t want to create a threat for your cat.
Tips for Keeping Outdoor Cats Cool in Hot Weather
Perhaps you have an outdoor cat. You don’t want your kitty to succumb to heatstroke, but you have less control over the outdoor thermostat. Not to fear! You still have plenty of ways you can keep your cat cool when temperatures start climbing.
5. Create Cooling Boxes
What cat doesn’t love a cardboard box? The cover provides crucial shade so your cat can escape the sun’s rays. You don’t have to stop there, though! With some overnight planning, you can add a cooling layer to their favorite retreat:
- Place a dry towel in the freezer overnight
- Fill a water bottle with cold water and wrap it in a blanket
- Freeze an ice pack and wrap it in a towel
As the cooling elements “sweat” through the day, they’ll provide a “cat air conditioning system” in the box. Best of all, you can reuse everything throughout the summer!
6. Cooling Pads
Cooling pads show up in pet stores as soon as summer peeks into the forecast. You CAN purchase one for your cat and place it in a shady spot. However, the gel ingredients don’t always mix well with cats. And since outdoor cats have long nails, they may puncture the outer covering. You’re better off making your own cooling pad.
Frozen vegetable packs can get wrapped in old towels to create a cooling pad for your cat to sleep on. (Choose vegetables you don’t want to eat later) The packs aren’t hard or rigid, allowing your cat to get comfortable. And even if a nail punctures the bag, your cat’s not likely to snatch a pea or carrot.
7. Rise Up
Cats love their naps, but lying on the sun-scorched pavement doesn’t make any feline comfortable. Luckily, you can find elevated pet beds! Your cat gets a comfy place to rest their head, but the bed’s legs allow for air to circulate. (Remember – air ventilation is your cat’s friend) It provides the perfect compromise, especially if you set it up in that crucial shady spot.
Tips for All Cats to Stay Cool in the Summer
Ready for the final countdown? You can use these handy tips and tricks whether your cat lounges on the couch all day or they patrol the neighborhood. The important thing is to keep your kitty nice and cool, no matter where they venture.
8. Ice, Ice Baby
There’s no limit to what you can do with ice cubes. Adding them to the water bowl helps encourage your cat to drink while also cooling the bowl’s water. However, cats primarily moderate their internal temperature through their paw pads. So, if you can find a spot you’re willing to allow to get a little damp, scatter some ice cubes on the floor. Batting the ice around will provide a cool (no pun intended) game while also keeping your cat comfortable.
My cats will chase an ice cube around until it’s completely melted. They’re fascinated by the block of frozen water – more so than any toy. (Of course, then I have to remember I gave them the cube, so I don’t slip and fall on the kitchen floor – another of their favorite games)
9. We All Scream for Frozen Fishy Treats
When summer pushes down on your shoulders, you start picturing ice cream cones, scoops of gelato, and towering glasses of shaved ice. What better way to keep your cat cool than to do the same? You can make frozen treats for your kitty to savor through the day. They’ll cool down, and they’ll love you for the special treat. Ideal choices you can put into ice cube trays include:
- Canned food
- Tuna juice
- Low-sodium chicken broth
10. A New Do
It’s tempting to shave all of that thick hair from your cat. And that WILL cool your cat down during the summer. Of course, you’ll need to watch for potential sunburn and invest in a pet-safe sunscreen. (Not to mention your cat may or may not appreciate their new look)
If you want to skip the extreme haircut option, look into just shaving your cat’s belly fur. This gives them a little “air conditioning” to expose to the cool floor, fan, or press against a cooling mat. It won’t overly chill them, though, especially at night or if you decide to invest in an air conditioning unit.
Meanwhile, make sure you brush your cat every day. Removing potential mats and all of that pesky loose hair will do wonders for cooling your cat down.
11. The Cat Version of the Sprinkler
Have you ever walked under a mister during the summer? That light sprinkling of water feels SO good. Plus, it cools you down. Your cat probably won’t let you come at them with a water bottle (mine flee if you bump the plants’ bottle), but you can simulate the process.
Take a damp washcloth and rub it over your cat’s hair. The same evaporation process goes to work, but cats tolerate the washcloth better than they do getting sprayed with a mister. (You CAN try setting up a sprinkler for your outdoor cat. Some cats love water!)
12. Night-Time is for Playtime
You always want to encourage your cat to bond with you, especially when they’re kittens. However, the hotter it gets, the more energy demands the body has. If you want to keep your cat cool during the summer, save rigorous play sessions for after dusk. Let your cat spend the day napping and conserving energy. They won’t get overheated, and they’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness. (You’ll enjoy the play more, too. Who wants to move when it’s roasting outside?)
The Dangers of Heatstroke
Keeping your beloved feline comfortable as temperatures soar isn’t just an act of love. Cats that fail to stay cool can quickly succumb to heatstroke. Heatstroke occurs when your cat’s internal body temperature tops 105F (40.5C). Unlike dogs, cats can’t pant to lose excess body heat. They have to rely on their ears and paw pads. This makes it difficult to cool their bodies on their own.
And signs of heatstroke in cats aren’t always obvious. Unless you know your kitty’s been out in the sun, you may miss a key symptom until it’s too late. When the mercury starts climbing, watch out for ANY of these warning flags:
- Bright red gums
- Pale gums
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Weakness or lethargy
- Muscle tremors
- Fever (that key number is 105F/40.5C)
- Panting or difficulty breathing
- Collapse or unconsciousness
If you’re worried your cat might have heatstroke, get to a veterinarian immediately. Rub them down with a damp towel on the way. You DON’T want to dunk them in a tub of water! Dropping the body temperature too fast brings complications. Dipping their paw pads in and out of a lukewarm tub of water will help the cooling process, though, until the professionals take over.
Bring on Summer!
You can keep your cat cool during the summer; you just need to get creative. Keep your cat well-hydrated; get that air moving; and keep the shade as plentiful as possible. With these handy tips and tricks, your cat will relax and make it through the heat without a problem.