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Home > Ask A Vet > How to Keep a Cat Cool in Hot Summer Weather (Vet Answer)

How to Keep a Cat Cool in Hot Summer Weather (Vet Answer)

a tabby cat lying on a hammock by the window

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Glorious summertime.—we all love it, including our kittens! However, just like us, cats are at risk of dehydration, sunburn, and heatstroke if not provided the opportunity to chill out during the hottest months of the year. This is especially important if you live in areas where temperatures rise far beyond what is comfortably warm, such as deserted areas or tropical very humid regions.

If you’re feeling too hot, your cat is likely feeling the same. Fret not, we’ve got you covered on how to keep them cool through the summer season.


The 14 Ways to Keep a Cat Cool in Hot Summer Weather

1. Make Sure There Is Shade

Shady areas on the patio or in the garden are always a couple of degrees cooler and a cat will naturally use them as a haven when they need to cool down. As a responsible pet owner, you need to make sure there is always a shade available for your cats to cool off. You might need to add some additional shading to guarantee there is always a shade available for your kitty to cool down if needed, given that shade availability changes as the day passes from morning to evening. Cardboard, fabric, wood are all on the list of materials you could use to create additional shading around the house.

cat sleeping on a patio
Image Credit: hapibu, Pixabay

2. Water

Just like humans, cats are at a higher risk of dehydration during the hot summer months. Dehydration is a big concern as it can quickly cause a lot of serious medical problems.

Here are a few pro tips to keep in mind:
  • You should make sure that your cat always has access to fresh drinking water.
  • Cats do not naturally drink1 a lot of water, they have evolved to get part of their hydration from prey.If your cat is on a dry food diet, you should make an effort to start introducing wet food into their
  • There should be several drinking stations around the areas your cat has access to.
  • Water should always be fresh and clean.
  • Keep in mind that cats prefer drinking from sources of moving water. So, consider investing in a water fountain.

3. Remove Food

With increased environmental temperatures, bacterial contamination of food is more common, as bacteria tends to thrive in warm conditions. Do not leave cat food out for prolonged periods, especially wet food. Remove anything your cat does not eat, and wash their food plates after every meal, just like you would wash yours. Save your kitty from becoming sick and yourself from having to deal with cat vomit and diarrhea.

washing animal food bowl with tap water in the kitchen sink
Image Credit: MargaPl, Shutterstock

4. Never Leave Your Cat in the Car

This is a problem more often suffered by dogs, but cats are susceptible to it too. A parked car’s interior temperature can rise more than one degree per minute during hot summer days. Never leave your pets (or children) unattended in a car!

5. Allow Free Access to the Home

Just like you would not wish to be out all day on a very hot day, your kitty should always be allowed back in the house where it is cooler so they can seek solace from the sun when things get too hot outside. Outdoor cats should always have cat doors available to guarantee their access to shelter from the heat (as well as from the cold in winter months).

Cat going through the cat door
Image By: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

6. Make Sure There Is Ventilation

Ventilation in the form of an open window, a fan, or even an air conditioner is a great way to provide environmental control to a room or area during the hot season. This is especially true when shade is not enough to keep a comfortable temperature.

7. Provide Cat Hammocks

Cat beds are very comfy, cozy, and great during winter, but some of them are just too warm during summer. Just like we change our bedding according to the season, cats need an alternative too. A lighter, more open cat hammock is a great solution to provide your kitty with a fresh and comfy place to sleep during the warmer months! Having a comfy space for your pet to rest at all times of the year is important, among other key tips for caring for your pet.

a tabby cat sitting on a hammock by the window at home
Image By: Saman Tsang, Unsplash

8. Be Mindful of Pavement Temperature

The pavement outside can get too hot and cats’ paws can suffer burns. Have you ever had to walk out of the ocean all the way to your sandals on a very hot day? Please be mindful of this and avoid your kitty’s delicate paws getting injured. The way to test this is by placing your palm on the pavement for 5 seconds. If it’s too hot to keep your hand down without feeling discomfort, you know it’ll be uncomfortable for your kitty’s paws.

9. Kitty Sunscreen

Hairless cats, short hair breeds, and white cats are especially susceptible to sunburns, however, any cat can get the delicate skin of the nose, ears, and belly burned by the sun. There are specialized kitty sunscreens to avoid these issues, but be mindful as many of these products are marketed as cat-friendly but not are not strictly regulated.

Two ingredients to avoid are Zinc and Salicylates. Repeated exposure to Zinc in a cat’s skin causes toxicity and damages their red blood cells. Salicylates can cause vomiting and diarrhea in low levels but in higher levels, they can lead to stomach ulcers and liver damage. Before applying sunscreen to your kitty, have the product approved by your vet.

sphynx cat lying on sofa's arm basking in the heat of the sun
Image By: Erin Agius, Unsplash

10. Hair Brushing

Keeping your cat’s hair free of mats is always important, especially during the warm season. Mats prevent the skin from getting good airflow and mess with the self-grooming evaporation system. Cats use their saliva evaporation to cool down during the summer in a similar way to how sweat cools us down. Cats can only sweat through their paws, but these are tiny in comparison to a cat’s full body size. However, cats use their saliva to create a similar evaporation effect in the rest of their body. Keeping your cat’s coat mat-free aids in keeping this system optimal, this is especially important if you have a long-haired breed.

11. Learn to Recognize Signs Heatstroke

When it comes to cats, heatstroke is serious. It can lead to organ damage and death. Knowing the signs of it can save your kitty’s life. If you notice wet paw prints on the floor, that means your cat is sweating and you need to make sure they have access to a fresh and properly ventilated area. If your cat is panting, this is a clear sign it needs to release body heat. If you have a Persian breed, you should be aware that they are not able to pant effectively enough to cool down, so they are more prone to suffer from heatstroke.

Signs of heatstroke to look for:
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive panting
  • Vomit
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing and red tongue and mouth
  • Stumbling
  • Staggering gait
  • Increased body temperature
a cat that feels sick and seems to vomit
Image By: chie hidaka, Shutterstock

12. Ice Cubes

Ice cubes are a great way to cool your kitty down and make sure they are adequately hydrated. Plain water, frozen cat-safe chicken, fish or bone broths, and even classic flavored Pedialyte ice cubes are a great way of keeping your kitty cool and hydrated during the summer months!

13. Ice Packs

Ice packs are another great option to keep your cat cool during hot days. You do not even need to purchase special ones as these can be easily made by adding water to a plastic bottle, letting it freeze, and then covering it with a towel before offering it to your cat. Place it over your cat’s favorite resting spots and your cat might just love chilling out right on top of them!

14. Ice Cream

Ice cream is a great way to cool down on a hot summer day and this is a great treat to make your kitty happy and feeling loved. Just remember it should not be the human variety! There are many cat ice cream recipes out there and your cat will absolutely favorite a few of them! As with every treat, balance and moderation is the key. Offered infrequently, cat ice cream is definitely a great way to strengthen your bond with your cat and keep them cool on those hot summer days!


Final Thoughts

When temperatures get too hot, the risk of dehydration, overheating, and gastrointestinal infections increase. You should always be mindful of providing your kitty access to cool down, shaded areas, clean food, and ways to keep hydrated. By learning to recognize the risks and warning signs, you can keep your kitty cool and healthy. Summer is a glorious time, and with the right precautions, it also provides unique opportunities for you to show your kitty some love!

Featured Image Credit: Saman Tsang, Unsplash

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