How to keep cats cool

Most cats usually cope very well with heat, but extreme heat waves can be very dangerous...

how to keep cats cool panting cat British Shorthair

With another heatwave on the way, we thought this would be a good time to focus on the importance of keeping cats cool during this extreme weather.

Cats evolved from desert dwellers, so they generally cope quite well in hot environments. When temperatures soar and remain elevated for days, even cats can struggle. Also remember that if your cat has no access to the outdoors, temperatures inside can become very hot, very quickly.

How hot is too hot?

We have tried to find a conclusive answer to this question, but have been unable to. Generally it is thought that healthy, young adult cats are able to cope in temperatures up to about 32C, but once you get above that it can become a problem. Please be aware that small kittens, elderly cats and unwell cats or those with medical conditions are at much higher risk.

how to keep cats cool cat heat stroke
Image by Freepik

Why is heat dangerous for cats?

Heat is very dangerous for animals, including humans. Every animal species has evolved to function within a certain temperature range. Extreme heat or extreme cold can cause vital organ damage and death.

Cat heat stroke risk factors

Certain cats are more at risk of heatstroke than others:

  • Old cats

  • Young kittens

  • Obese cats

  • Very flat faced cats like Persians and Exotics

  • Longhaired cats

  • Unwell cats

  • Cats that are confined

Signs of heatstroke in cats

If you see any of these signs, please take your cat to your vet immediately. Keep them as cool as possible for the journey, because the car will be very hot. Put a dish of water in their cat carrier for the journey as well. Signs of heatstroke in cats that require urgent medical attention are:

  • Lethargy

  • Stumbling

  • Personality change

  • Rectal temperature above 40C

  • Panting

  • Red mouth/tongue

  • Vomiting

  • Rapid pulse

  • Rapid breathing

How to keep your cat cool

  1. Make sure your cat is not confined to a small, hot space (for example, if you usually leave your cat in the conservatory whilst you are out, or at night, make sure they can access the whole house in hot weather)

  2. Hydration is essential in hot weather. Cats are often not very good at drinking water. Dehydration prevents cats from cooling their body temperature efficiently. To keep your cat hydrated:

    • Make sure there is always fresh water available.

    • Try a drinking fountain (but make sure there is also a dish of water as well)

    • Switch your cat to wet food, and use a high moisture wet food, like Bozita on very hot days. Read our wet cat food reviews to help you choose. 

    • Put ice cubes in your cat’s water bowl to keep the water cool

  3. Make sure your cat can roam around your house and get outside if he is used to it. Allow him access to cooler areas of the house - tiled floors in kitchens/bathrooms are often much cooler for cats to lay on

  4. Bring a fan or air conditioning unit into your cat’s room. If you have a fan, put frozen water bottles in front of it, or a wet towel to create an air-con effect.

  5. If you have an indoor cat and need to open windows, use window guards or invest in an XXL dog crate and put your cat in it to allow you to open windows. If you do this, make sure that your cat is supervised, out of sunlight, and able to stay cool if you are confining her.

  6. Try a cooling mat or fill hot water bottles with cold water and ice cubes and leave them where your cat likes to lay.

  7. Groom your cat regularly to remove excess fur. Read our Furminator review

How to keep cats cool: conclusions 

In general, cats are very good at dealing with heat and you don't need to worry too much. But when the weather soars, particularly for days on end, make sure you are aware of the warning signs of heat stroke. A few simple steps can help make all the difference and keep your cat safe in extreme heat.  At the very least, switch to wet food if your cat will eat it, leave plenty of dishes of cold water around the house, and make sure you cat can access the coolest part of your home. 

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