Cats love to sprawl in the sun, but too much heat can cause serious health problems. Protecting cats from extreme heat is critical to helping them stay healthy and happy. With a little pre-planning and ingenuity, you can keep your cat cool this summer.
How do cats keep themselves cool?
Humans sweat, dogs pant, and pigs wallow in the mud. What do cats do to keep cool in the summer? In general, cats need to maintain an internal temperature of 101-102 degrees. So although many cats' wild relatives, such as tigers and jaguars, live in hot climates, house cats do their best to keep cool by sweating through their paws, licking their coats, and even panting if they are hot enough.
Primarily, though, they just dial down the energy levels. What's the point of rushing about in a frenzy when it's hot? Instead, they find a cool, shady spot with plenty of water nearby where they can snooze the day away. Cat parents should go with the flow here, making shade, water, and calm days always available.
How to tell if your cat is too hot.
Cats do not tolerate heat well. Signs of heatstroke in cats include vomiting, stumbling, and rectal temperatures above 105. Earlier indicators of heat-related distress are restlessness, drooling, and a slightly elevated rectal temperature.
If your pet is showing early signs of heat stress, move him or her to a cool place with plenty of water, a fan, and other cooling agents. Cat parents who sense their animals are already experiencing heat stroke, however, should contact the closest cat emergency clinic.
• Tip: check your hard floors for wet paw prints, a sure sign the cat is sweating.
How to keep indoor cats cool in hot weather.
Beating the heat doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. If you run the air conditioner in your home all day, your cat should be fine. Be sure to have a backup plan, however, in case of a power outage or other breakdown while you're away.
Are you using a window unit or portable air conditioner? If so, add a fan pointed directly at the cat. This system can help pull the cool air right down to the floor where the cat lives.
Other tips to keep your cat cool this summer include petting her with a wet cloth, scheduling playtime for the moderate mornings and evenings, and keeping curtains closed and drawn. Most importantly, never leave a cat, dog, or other pet inside a car, not even for a quick errand. Temperatures can rise dramatically in the space of minutes. Should you spot a dog or cat alone in a car, you can follow the Humane Society's directions for intervention.
How to keep your cat cool without air conditioning.
Creative tips on how to keep cats cool without A/C include:
- Creating a cool retreat with a cardboard box and an ice pack wrapped in a towel. We suggest you make your own ice packs using water and avoid the gel-filled commercial ones that tiny claws can puncture.
- Fill your cat's water dish with fresh water and add some ice cubes to keep the water cool while your out.
- Try making popsicles for cats by freezing a low-sodium chicken broth or tuna brine.
- Most specialists recommend against cutting your pet's fur, but we do suggest regular brushings to keep the coat at its optimum thickness.
How to help special cats stay cool this summer.
Kittens, senior cats, outdoor cats, and feral cats can all face special challenges with staying cool.
- Kittens - These little guys love to play, so try to encourage calmer activities when it's hot.
- Senior cats - Make sure these special friends get their exercise when the sun is low. Also, help them stay cool by serving cold treats or try giving them a raised cat bed for naps.
- Outdoor cats - Place their beds in shaded areas, keep the water bowls filled with fresh water, and toss in plenty of ice cubes. A lickable ice block can be a long-lasting treat even on the hottest days.
- Feral cats - If you feed feral cats, be sure to keep wet food moist as it will dry out in the heat. Take up uneaten food within 30 minutes since it attracts bugs and can spoil. As with outdoor cats, keep the water bowls filled with fresh water and ice cubes. Those who help with TNR programs may want to take a break from that work since a feral cat can easily become overheated and die in a trap.
Keeping cats cool in the summer is a major part of being a good pet parent. Have you tried other ideas we didn't mention? Let's all work together to keep our pets happy and healthy during the dog days of summer.
* Portions of this article excerpted from Modkat, PetMD, and the Humane Society.
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