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How to keep your cat cool this summer

Cat with a sea background

7 tips for keeping your cat cool this summer.

© Anna Vangorodska - Shutterstock

Cats may not be as sensitive to heat as dogs, but ... they suffer from it too. So here's how to refresh your cat this summer!

By Emilie Heyl

Published on the 22/06/2021, 17:00

Summer has finally arrived and although we enjoy the hot weather, it isn’t so much the case for cats. Cats only sweat through their paw pads, therefore they have limited capacity to cool off and can easily overheat.

Cats originated from desert environments and being clever creatures, they would hide in the shade throughout the day and hunt at night. However, because their methods to cool down are limited, cats are as much at risk of heatstroke and dehydration as other pets and humans. So, make sure you keep your cat safe, hydrated and cool with our 7 top tips on how to keep your cat cool throughout the summer months.

How do cats stay cool in the summer?

When the temperature is rising, each mammal has its own way to cool down: dogs pant, humans sweat and other animals seek for hidden spots in the shadow. But what about cats? Our feline friends have a few techniques to cool down in hot weather:

  • They look for a cool spot with shadow: Cats try to avoid sunlight when it gets too hot, therefore they might be hiding underneath your bed or laying on tile floors.
  • They sweat: Cats have sweat glands in their paw pads and these help them cool down. Now, here’s an interesting fact, cats can also sweat from their coats. Indeed, when a cat licks its coat, it’s saliva evaporates creating a cooling effect. Just like us humans when our sweat evaporates from our skin.
  • They pant: Cats will pant if they are extremely hot. Similar to dog panting, your feline will breathe rapidly to allow the saliva to evaporate from their tongue.

Which cats feel the heat the most?

Not all cats suffer from heat, some are more prone to heatstroke than others. These cats will definitely need a little bit of extra help and care during the summer months to feel comfortable with the heat: 

  • Flat faced cat breeds: The Persian or the British Shorthair for example. Because these breeds have short noses, they have difficulty breathing. 
  • Cats with long or thick fur: These cats will feel the heat more than short haired cats. They will need regular grooming to remove dead hair which keeps them warm.
  • Senior cats or cats with health problems: It might be safer to keep these cats at home, so that they feel more comfortable and don’t become overwhelmed by the heat.
  • Overweight cats: It can be harder for obese cats to cope with the heat.

7 top tips for keeping cats cool in summer

During hot periods, we must not forget that - like newborns and elderly - animals are also sensitive to high temperatures. It happens, moreover, that cats struggle with heat too - although they are able to regulate their body temperature.

Besides, of course the obvious things like keeping your home cool, here are 7 top tips to improve your feline's daily life when summer is here!

1. Brush your cat’s coat regularly 

Normally, cats shed in spring. Handy to protect himself from the cold, heat, humidity and even pollution. Your feline’s coat is his best ally! But when it gets a lot hotter, your cat's hair will fall in order to help him regulate its body temperature. By brushing your cat, you will therefore remove the dead hairs, which can keep him warm!

2. Apply a wet and cool glove over his coat

You should apply a cool and wet flanel above his head, all along his body, but also on his stomach if he lets you. Thus, he will suffer less from the heat.

3. Equip yourself with a water spray

Ideally put the water spray in your fridge for a few hours to keep it fresh. Remember not to spray your cat directly on his head and stand about twenty centimeters from his body so that the droplets go everywhere.

4. Put an ice cube in his water bowl

You should not overload your cat's water bowl with ice cubes, but you can slip a small ice cube into it to slightly cool the water down without making it freezing. Indeed, if your cat drinks too much cold water, he will have an upset stomach.

5. Place bowls of water in different areas

The location of the water bowls should be strategic: place them where your cat likes to walk, in the shade and in cool places. One way like any other to encourage your feline friend to drink and to ensure he’s hydrated.

6. Wet and hang a damp cloth in front of an air supply

You don't have a fan? No problem ! Close your shutters, open your windows wide and just in front of it, place a damp cloth. The drafts will dry the fabric while diffusing the same humidity, which will refresh the entire room!

7. Remember to place pockets of pain relief gel in the fridge.

Very practical in the event of ailments, gel pockets can be the feline's best ally in the event of heat: once they are very cool, simply place them under their favourite cushion or under a cloth and put it in a place your cat likes to go. You could also replace the gel pockets by a cooling mat or a frozen water bottle.

How can I keep my outdoor cat cool?

Is your cat an explorer and spends his whole day outside? It can be a bit challenging to keep an outdoor cat cool during the summer months, but here are a few things you can do to help your cat.

  • Create shadow places in your garden 
  • Place a few water bowls in your garden
  • Try to let your cat outside in the morning and in the evening when the temperature is cooler. Keep your cat indoors during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Apply sun protection on your cat, especially if your cat is white or has thin fur.

How can I tell if my cat is too hot?

All cats struggle with heat and as cat owners, it’s important to know the signs of heatstroke and dehydration in order to take action. It would be best to put the tips you’ve read above in place to avoid your cat getting to a critical point. Here are the common signs to look out for which will tell you your cat is too hot:

  • Panting
  • Dribbling
  • Wobbling (cat struggles to stand up) 

How hot is too hot for a cat to be outside?

The ideal body temperature for a cat is 37°. If the temperature hits 40° then it’s too hot for your cat to be outside as your feline friend could suffer from heatstroke. Make sure you help your cat to cool off before he reaches this stage. If you have any doubts of heatstroke, go see your vet immediately, as hyperthermia (heatstroke) could be vital.

Last tip, remember to check your cat’s paw pads: this is where your cat sweats the most, and it’s a great way to tell if your cat is too hot.

There you are, with a few easy-to-apply tips to help your cat cope with the heatwave, you’ll have a healthy, happy and cool cat at home.