Cats are already cool, they certainly don’t need our help in that department. Be honest, you wish you were as cool as your cat.
But vets have mentioned that it’s a good idea to keep them even cooler in summer, and who are we to argue with the experts! Most cats enjoy spells of warmer weather, but they can also overheat and develop heat stroke which can be life-threatening. Very old or young cats, fluffy cats, and cats with certain medical conditions are particularly at risk of heat stroke.
Felines with flat-faces (technically known as brachycephalic breeds) like Persian cats and Scottish folds also have a harder time regulating their temperatures because of their shorter nasal passages.
How to Keep Cats Cool in Summer
Keep your cat hydrated
A hydrated kitty is a happy kitty! It’s important to make sure their water bowls are always topped up with clean, cool water.
If your moggie isn’t drinking enough, you can try to make it more interesting for them by:
- Getting them a water fountain – a bit diva-ish, but loads of cats prefer water when it’s running
- Adding ice cubes to their water bowl
- Adding a splash of chicken broth to their water
- Making some cat-friendly ice lollies out of their favourite flavours like tuna brine or chicken stock (the internet is full of recipes for icy treats)
- Give them an ice cube to chew on – but also to smack around the floor and into your walls (keeping their paws cool in the process)
Provide plenty of shade
Cats love sunning themselves in the toastiest spots they can find, but you don’t want them to overdo it.
If there aren’t many shrubs or trees for your cat to recline under in the garden, create a cool shaded area for them by stringing up tarpaulin or sheets.
Cats also love cardboard boxes – and what do cardboard boxes do? They make great makeshift sunshades!
On hotter days, it’s best to keep them indoors between 10am and 3pm when the sun is at its hottest.
Cool things down inside
Kitties can overheat indoors too!
If you have an indoor cat, net or mesh pet screens for windows and doors can help keep your home well-ventilated and stop you from worrying about them escaping.
Close curtains and blinds to keep the house cool for your cat. If it’s hotter outside than in, keep the windows closed.
Place fans around your home to keep the air circulating – just don’t point the fan directly at your cat.
Cooling mats & beds
Most cats would be horrified at the idea of setting foot in a paddling pool, so buy a pet cooling mat or give them a towel soaked in cold water to lie on.
Stroking your kitty with a cold wet towel or wet hands (if tolerated, of course) will also help them to cool off.
You can also freeze a plastic bottle full of water, wrap it in a pillowcase or towel, and place it in one of your cat’s favourite spots. A bag of frozen peas will also do the trick.
Cat-friendly sun cream
All cats (but especially light-coloured or hairless cats) can get sunburnt and develop skin cancer, so you should protect them with cat-friendly sun protection before they head out to sunbathe.
Make sure you apply it to any areas that aren’t covered with a lot of fur like ears and noses.
If your cat’s skin looks sore, crusty or scaly, this is a surefire sign you should check in with the vet for advice.
It’s perfectly normal if your cat is grooming themselves more than usual in the heat. This is a cooling mechanism similar to sweating: as the saliva evaporates off their fur, your kitty will cool down.
It’s also a good idea to brush them on a daily basis to get rid of excess fluff that’s keeping any heat in.
Cats with longer, heavier coats might like a shorter summer haircut to let heat escape, but leave this to a professional groomer who won’t disrupt their natural cooling system.
Check cat hiding spots
The phrase ‘curiosity killed the cat’ didn’t just appear out of thin air.
Your cat might be hiding out in a shed, greenhouse or other confined space, so thoroughly check inside (including in cardboard boxes and on shelves) before closing the door. Cats trapped inside could end up with heat stroke.
Symptoms of heat stroke in cats
Cats are thought to have evolved from desert animals which may be why they don’t tend to drink a lot of water. Unfortunately this can lead to dehydration during balmy summer months.
A lot of people are aware that dogs can suffer from heat stroke but many don’t know that it’s a serious risk for cats too – and can be fatal.
Heat stroke develops when a cat can’t reduce their body temperature by sweating through their nose and paw pads or by panting.
Signs of heat stroke include:
- Heavy panting and rapid breathing
- Agitation, restlessness or pacing
- Raised temperature (between 38.3 and 39.2° Celsius is normal)
- Seeming dazed, lethargic, drowsy or has glazed eyes
- Lacks coordination or seems disoriented
- A rapid pulse
- Excessive salivation and thickened saliva
- Sticky gums
- Muscle tremors
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
- Loss of consciousness
How to treat heat stroke in cats
This bit is sobering but super important.
For the best chance of survival and to prevent brain damage, you need to gradually lower your cat’s body temperature using the methods listed below, and take them to the nearest vet immediately.
- Move your cat to a shaded and cool area
- Avoid cooling them down too rapidly to avoid shock – this can also be fatal
- If possible, wrap your cat in cool – not cold – wet towels, targeting the paws, underarm, belly, groin areas where there’s less fur
- If you don’t have towels, wet down their fur with cool water until their breathing settles down, but not too much that they start shivering
- Place them in the breeze of a fan
- Allow them to drink small amounts of cool water
Even if your cat looks like they may be recovering or you just suspect they might have heat stroke, they should still always be checked by a vet as quickly as possible.
Keep your cat protected
The hot weather presents more than one challenge for our furry friends! In addition to keeping cool, our cats are at increased risk of fleas at this time of year – particularly from June-September, aka peak-flea season. Keep your kitty comfortable by maintaining their regular monthly flea treatment.
Seeing the odd flea here and there during summer? Don’t panic! They’re everywhere during the balmy months. The warm weather is great for their breeding lifecycle and their eggs will be hatchin’ aplenty. Fortunately, any flea which dares hop onto a feline treated with Itch Flea will be dead as a dormouse within 24 hours!