Genetically, our cats are desert creatures, so their bodies are designed to live and thrive in hot climates.
So, to conserve their energy for exploring and hunting, you will often find your cat curled up somewhere snug and warm so that they don't expend their energy sleeping! Sunbathing is one way of securing extra heat and conserving energy, too.
Cats can probably tolerate heat better than humans, as they have a higher body temperature than ours, but nevertheless, we need to ensure they keep comfortable during hot weather and they do not get overexposed to the sun and heat.
15 tips to take care of your cat in the heat
1. Is your cat prone to heatstroke?
Is your cat elderly, overweight or suffering from heart or lung disease? Do they have a short muzzle? If the answer is yes, they may be more susceptible to heatstroke, so should be kept in a cool room/area as much as possible during hot weather, preferably one that is air-conditioned.
2. Keep an eye out for common overheating symptoms
Heatstroke happens when your cat is unable to regulate their body temperature. So, you need to recognise the signs, which include:
- Sweaty paw pads
- Rapid breathing
- Fast pulse
- Red mouth and tongue
- Elevated body temperature
If you spot these signs, you should contact your vet immediately, move your cat to a cool area and give them only small amounts of cold (not icy) water to drink. You can also spray their body with room-temperature water, note that using ice cold water could cause shock if your cat has heatstroke.
3. Create more shady spots
Create more shady spots that your cat can lay under, both outside and indoors. They may find their own shady spot under a bush, but if there is no natural shade outside, erect a canopy for them.
4. Leave out damp towels
Lay down some dampened towels for them to lie on and make sure they have a water bowl too. You can always entice them under the canopy with a treat or their favourite toy!
5. Use cat-specific sun protection if needed
If your cat has short or white hair, they may be more sensitive to the sun, you can use cat specific sun protection on vulnerable areas, but make sure it is cat safe and does not contain zinc oxide or salicylates.
6. Avoid letting them out when it's hottest
The sun will be at its hottest around midday, so it's best to keep your cat indoors during the hottest part of the day to avoid overexposure. Try to limit their time outside to the morning and evening when it's likely to be cooler.
7. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Keep your cat hydrated by placing extra bowls of water throughout the house for them to access wherever they are. Don't forget cats love running water so are more likely to be attracted to a cat water fountain.
8. Keep your home cool
Try to keep your home cool with fans or air conditioning. Placing a bottle of frozen water in front of the fan can help to spread cooler air around the room. You can also draw your curtains and blinds to avoid solar gain, for extra shaded spots.
9. Or create a cool area especially for your cat!
Try freezing a plastic bottle filled with water, wrap it in a towel and place it in your cat's favourite spots. Alternatively, we know how much cats like cardboard boxes, so you can try placing the frozen water bottle in a box and create a new hiding spot for your cat. Turn the box on its side to make a shelter; make sure the bottle remains covered and doesn't leak, the temperature will stay low and contained inside the box.
10. Try keeping their fur damp
Dab a cold, wet towel on your cat's fur to dampen their fur, or even stroke your cat with wet hands. But make sure it's not too icy water, as this can cause them to go into shock if they are struggling with heatstroke.
11. Consider regular grooming sessions
Cats with long or thick coats will struggle more in intense heat, naturally! Here, your kitty could benefit from more regular grooming to remove any loose or matted fur that will trap the heat.
12. Or get their hair clipped by a groomer!
Having their coat clipped by a groomer may be beneficial, however, don't ever be tempted to shave your cat, as this can make them susceptible to sunburn.
You may notice your cat grooming themselves more often in the heat, this is a way to keep themselves cool as the evaporation from their saliva helps them cool down.
13. Keep their area well-ventilated
Keep them in well ventilated areas of the house but make sure they do not get trapped inside a hot room, such as a conservatory, as this could lead to heatstroke.
14. Help them relax in the hot weather
15. Avoid any unnecessary routine changes
Keep to your daily routine, remember, cats don't like change - and make sure playtime is early in the morning, or in the evening, when it is cooler. This will suit your cat better too as they are most active during these times.
COOL playtime tip: play chase with some frozen ice cubes on a hard surface, your kitty will love chasing and patting these across the floor and it will cool them off too when they catch them!