Cat cooling tricks: How to cool down a cat in hot weather
Discover how to cool down a cat in hot weather with our top tips and help avoid heat exhaustion
With Summers getting increasingly hotter, it's now vital that you learn some cat cooling tricks. After all, if the weather continues on the current trajectory as expected, the US and Europe are set to swelter in record-breaking temperatures – the Met Office in the UK, for instance, is already predicting 2023 will be one of the hottest on record.
Heat isn't good for cats even though they may look entirely content stretched out and sunbathing. While cats will naturally find a shaded spot and look for cool water to drink, researchers at the University of Milan found that cats slept more, played less and were generally more inactive in hot weather. It means cats aren't going to be as physically and mentally stimulated and they still run the danger of overheating.
Heat exhaustion or even heatstroke are the biggest concerns so look out for rapid breathing, lethargy, red tongue and mouth, staggering movements and vomiting – all of which should set alarm bells ringing. Different cats have different tolerance levels but test how hot a cat is using an ear thermometer. A temperature over 40.5C (105F) is potentially dangerous.
With that in mind, let's try some preventative methods which apply equally to indoor and outdoor cats. In some cases, it's the opposite of what you'd do if looking to discover how cold is too cold for cats in winter. Of course, if you are concerned that your cat is struggling, be sure to seek the advice of a veterinarian. Oh, and never leave cats in the car on a warm day!
How to cool down a cat in hot weather
1. Freeze common cat treats
A fun way to assist your cat during hot temperatures is to freeze common cat treats. One popular choice for this is Lick-e-Lix cat treats by Webbox, which are effectively tubes filled with a soft yogurt-like liquid.
Simply pop them in the freezer to create 'cat ice lollies'. Just be careful they don't get too eager and bite large chunks off as it can upset the balance of their everyday digestive activity.
2. Provide an outdoor cat house
Does your cat love to lounge in the sun? If your feline loves nothing more than stretching out on the pavement, you could provide them with a far safer option, such as their own outdoor cat house.
This provides them with an elevated place to rest so they stay off hot surfaces, but it also offers them a shady spot of refuge when the sun is high in the sky.
3. Make your own frozen cat treat
You've probably heard of frozen dog treats, but what about our feline friends? The good news is that you can be just as inventive when it comes to cats. To make your own frozen cat treat, drain canned tuna juice into a measuring jug and add a little water.
Next, add the mixture to an ice cube tray featuring any design you like and then pop it into the freezer. Once frozen, place one in your cat's dish – an added bonus is if the frozen treat features chunks of tuna inside. Delicious!
4. Consider a cat cooling mat
You may have heard of cooling mats for dogs, but you can also pick them up for cats too. If you happen to have multiple pets in the house, investing in a large cooling mat could be ideal.
If you have an indoor cat, place a cooling mat in your feline's favorite sleeping area. You can also use it in a pet carrier if you need to move them around in hot weather.
5. Supply a pet water fountain
Giving your pet plenty of fresh water is essential during warmer months. One way to do this is to provide a water fountain for pets, which ensures that running water is available all day.
It's particularly handy if your cat eats lots of dry cat food, providing them with constant access to liquids.
6. Put ice cubes in water
It's a simple trick that works for us humans too; simply pop in a few ice cubes into your cat's dish or fountain for an instant cool down.
Not only does it make your cat's water a lot cooler to consume, it encourages drinking and licking wet paws.
7. Use a cooling towel
Did you know you can buy a special cooling towel especially for cats? Famously, cats hate water, so the last thing you want to do is give them a soaking.
Instead, simply make it slightly wet under a cold running tap, wring out the excess water, and place it over your cat.
8. Make your own DIY cat cooling towel
Don't have a cat cooling towel? Then why not make your own?
You could use an old tea towel but, if you really want to get clever, it's surprising how well paper towels perform. But they're likely to get soggy, you may think – not if you freeze them, they won't.
Simply grab a piece of paper towel, dampen it, and leave it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Once you've retrieved it, you'll notice it has created the perfect crisp and cooling cat cooling towel that you can then place over your cat.
9. Consider an outdoors cat enclosure
If you have an indoor cat that's never ventured out, setting up an outdoor cat enclosure or catio is a secure way to give them a taste of fresh air.
Some pet owners opt to build large and complex enclosures, but it can be as easy as buying a breathable cat tent and setting it up on the balcony.
Just make sure you supply plenty of cold water and ensure there's a shady spot available to protect them from the sun.
10. Switch on air conditioning
Treat indoor cats (and yourself) to a blast of air conditioning if you have it in your home. If you don't have air conditioning, look to turn on a few fans instead.
Just be sure not to place them directly at your cat, few felines will appreciate having an accidental blow dry.
11. Cat-proof open windows
If you live in a high-rise apartment block or are generally worried about your cat escaping, opening a window becomes a lot trickier.
You could look to use netting frames that fit over windows or doors to keep your home well-ventilated without the worry.
12. Use sun cream
Did you know that some cats need to use sun cream? If your feline has lighter-colored fur they are more likely to be at risk of getting sunburn.
Apply animal-friendly sun cream to areas most exposed to the sun, such as the end of the nose and tips of the ears. The sun cream should be titanium dioxide-based; avoid any that contain zinc oxide. If in doubt, always consult with your vet.
13. Daily grooming
In the summer months, it's more important than ever to keep on top of grooming. Giving your feline a daily brush will help get rid of any excess fur and troublesome knots.
Some cats may appreciate a summer trim to help them keep cool; look for a professional groomer to do this. It's not advisable to shave your cat down to the skin or trim a lot of hair yourself as this can actually encourage the onset of sunburn.
14. Keep light-colored cats indoors
The sun is typically at its strongest between the hours of 10am and 3pm. Where possible, look to keep your cat indoors during these hours to protect them from the highest temperatures. This is especially important if your cat has light-colored fur.
15. Freeze a bottle of water
Does your kitty have a favorite spot in the home? Why not freeze a bottle of water, wrap it in a towel or pillowcase, then place it where they typically love to frequent?
Just make sure that the lid is on tight so the bottle does not leak.
16. Add water to a bath
Traditionally, most cats don't like water but you may find that your moggy is fascinated by the sight of a dripping faucet or paws at her water bowl. If your feline falls in to that category, you could look to run a shallow cold bath for them to drink and play in.
17. Close all blinds and curtains
Though cats typically love to laze by the window side lapping up every inch of rays available, sometimes it's best to close all blinds in the home to ensure your kitty does not overheat. This has the added bonus of benefiting us humans too.
18. Lay out a wet flannel on the floor
If you expect your feline friend to run away at the mere sight of you placing a cooling towel over them, you could consider wetting an old flannel and popping it in their favorite place to rest to entice them to use it by themselves.
19. Add water to dry food and treats
If your cat prefers dry food it can be difficult to give them all the hydration they need, as wet cat food tends to have higher moisture content. If that sounds like your feline friend, consider popping water into their food bowl to encourage them to drink.
Dehydration in cats is a common issue in the summer months. Our vet explains some of the other causes to be on the lookout for and how you can encourage your kitty to up their fluid intake.
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Ashleigh is Digital Editor on PetsRadar. With over 8 years of experience in print and digital media, she has acted as an editorial lead on a variety of projects, with animal themes a keen interest. As an avid animal lover, you can often find Ashleigh checking out the newest trends in animal care or looking at cute cat videos on TikTok.