In hot weather, our attention turns toward keeping ourselves cool and keeping our pets cool too. For us, a day at the lake or a cold shower may be just what's needed, but that's not a realistic way of keeping cats cool in hot weather. When it's time to cool down during the summer months, use some different techniques for keeping your cat cool.
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Fresh water and ice for cats
A cat's normal body temperature is between 100.5 Fahrenheit and 102.5 F — so slightly higher than our own. One of the most important aspects of avoiding heatstroke for humans, dogs, and cats alike is free access to fresh water. Cats need to stay hydrated in the heat. Leave out your normal bowl of fresh water, but also consider leaving other bowls of fresh water in easy-access spots around the house to prompt them to drink more often. Change the water to keep it cool, and consider adding an ice cube to it.
Try this trick from Blue Cross if you have hard floors and don't mind a little puddle — give your kitten an ice cube and watch it slide across the floor as it slowly melts while they chase it! Other cool tricks for keeping cats cool in hot weather include cooling mats made just for cats. You can get the same effect though by wrapping a small ice pack in a blanket and letting your cat cuddle up to it.
Grooming a cat to keep cool
Most cats dislike getting actually wet, but you could try draping a damp cloth over her body. Another option is to gently pet your cat with a damp washcloth or paper towel. One benefit of doing that is you might remove some extra hair which could be keeping your cat warmer than he needs to be. Especially if you have a long-haired cat, regular grooming is key to removing excess hair, which can cause mats and prevent full air flow to a cat's skin. Brush your cat a little more often over the summer months, and consider getting your long-haired cats professionally clipped for summer.
Keep your cat's environment cool
If you have an air conditioner, run it when you can. If that's not possible, place a fan in the house to provide some air flow. A cat will naturally find cooler or warmer spots to lay to regulate its body temperature, so don't be surprised if you suddenly find your cat hanging out under the bed or sprawled out in the bathtub or other place with a col tile floor. They'll seek out shady spots, so keep curtains closed to keep out sun and open doors to spots in the house that might naturally be cooler, like a basement area.
Cats, especially light-colored cats and those that are not long-haired cats, can get sunburned! If you have a cat who goes outdoors, try to provide cool, fresh water and plenty of shade for them to hide out in. Consider a commercially available sunblock for cats that you can use on their ears, noses, and areas with patchy fur. Only use sunblock specifically formulated for cats.
Even if you don't have long-haired cats, any cat can struggle with the heat. Recognize the signs of a cat overheating and heatstroke, which include:
- Wobbling or struggling to stand up.
If you notice this situation, gradually try to cool your pet down. You can use a cool wet cloth to dampen their fur and paws, place them in front of a fan, and provide them small amounts of cool water. Then, take your pet to the vet to be sure they've fully recovered.