Cats are sensitive to the heat and need extra care in summer to help them keep cool. Read our tips on keeping your cat cool when the temperature rises.
How do cats keep cool in hot weather?
There are a couple of way that cats keep themselves cool in hot weather. The first is by licking their coats, you may notice that your cat will groom themselves more in summer. The evaporating saliva causes a cooling effect, similar to the way human sweat keeps us cool.
Cats also have a pretty efficient cooling system through sweat glands in their paw pads. As their body temperature heats up, the brain will send a message to the paw pads to start sweating and this will help to cool them down.
However, when the weather reaches scorching heights, you should take a few key steps to help keep your cat cool.
Tips for keeping your cat cool
1. Switch their bed
Most cat beds are designed to be comfy and cosy. However, during hot weather these can often be too warm to sleep in.
You should consider having an alternative available. A summer bed that’s slightly elevated off the floor to encourage airflow, and made with lightweight, cooling materials. Another good option is a cooling mat, even if this has a cover over it – your cat will appreciate it.
2. Apply cat-friendly sun cream
Just like humans, cats can suffer from sunburn if they’re not properly protected. Breeds with short or white hair with pink ears are more at risk, so you need to be extra careful to shield them from the sun’s rays.
It’s essential to apply cat-specific sun cream to the sensitive areas of the body (nose, lips, tips of the ears and belly) and keep them out of the sun during the hottest part of the day.
Speak to your local vet for advice on cat-friendly sun cream and your pet’s needs.
3. Circulate cool air
Keep your home cool and comfortable by safely setting up fans in various rooms or, if you have it, air conditioning.
This will help prevent your cat from overheating and give them a refreshing place to retreat to if they get too warm. Keeping curtains or blinds drawn will also minimise the amount of heat that comes through windows. It’s worth noting that if you have tiles in your kitchen, these can be very hot if they are in direct sunlight.
Remember to keep oscillating fans and exposed cables out of paws reach to keep your cat safe.
4. Keep them hydrated
Cats need to drink plenty of water during warm weather to prevent dehydration. Providing lots of fresh, clean water is essential, whether at home or in the garden.
There are lots of ways you can encourage your cat to drink more, including running taps, putting their bowls in unusual places and flavouring their drinking water.
Visit our advice page to find out how to keep your cat hydrated.
5. Ice packs
Create a refreshing ice pack for your cat by freezing a bottle of water and wrapping it in a towel or blanket.
These are perfect to pop into their bed or their favourite lounging spot and provide a much-needed cooling effect in the heat.
6. Provide shady spots
If your cat loves to lounge in the garden, it’s important to give them lots of shaded areas where they can relax away from the sun.
Shade created by trees or bushes is best as it allows air to circulate freely. Be aware of how the sun moves throughout the day to ensure your cat always has a shady spot to sit in.
You could even set up a shaded, makeshift hideout with their water bowl, an ice pack to sit next to and their favourite toys to encourage them to keep out of the hot sun.
7. Look out for more self-grooming
One of the ways that cats regulate their temperature is by licking their coat; this added moisture evaporates off their skin and gives a cooling effect.
Don’t be too alarmed if you notice your cat grooming themselves more often. However, if you think your cat may be struggling with the heat (dribbling, lethargic) speak to your vet for advice.
8. Don’t leave food out
Avoid leaving your cat’s food out all day, as it can become a breeding ground for bugs and bacteria in hot weather.
Only put wet food in your cat’s bowl at feeding time for them to eat immediately, then pick up any uneaten food when they've finished to prevent bacteria spreading.
9. Keep outdoor cats inside
If your cat usually spends a lot of time outdoors, consider keeping them inside during the hottest part of the day if possible. This might be easier if you have a cool spot for them to settle in.
Not only does the air temperature rise between 12pm and 2pm, but pavements, asphalt and artificial grass can also become incredibly hot, causing burns and sores to your cat’s delicate footpads.
10. Be mindful of where they are
Certain areas of the house can get particularly hot in warm weather - think conservatories and garden sheds.
Be mindful that you don’t shut your cat in hot areas of the house with no exit. Although cats enjoy lazing in warm spots, they will eventually need to retreat to cooler surroundings to prevent overheating.
For more helpful advice about caring for your cat in the heat, speak to the team at your local Medivet