With summers getting hotter around the world, learning how to cool down a cat in hot weather has never been more important. While cats are very independent creatures and tend to be very smart when it comes to finding creative ways to keep themselves cool, it’s still crucial that we watch out for our feline friends.
Expert vet, Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, says that heatstroke is a lot less common in cats than it is in dogs as they tend to be far more sensible. However, dehydration in cats is a real risk when the mercury rises as they’re not always as good as dogs at drinking voluntarily and tend to take in water in smaller amounts over longer periods of time.
Even if your cat is excellent at taking in adequate water each day, they may still get too hot in the warmer months. Signs to lookout for include your cat not eating as much, lethargy, hiding away, or seeking out shade or cool surfaces to lie on. Thankfully, there’s lots you can do to help prevent this.
Below, we share our favorite cat cooling tips to help your feline friend stay comfortable this summer. Plus, Dr. Woodnutt shares her thoughts on what temperature is too hot for cats and how you can tell if your cat has heat exhaustion.
Dr Joanna Woodnutt qualified as a veterinarian from the University of Nottingham where she then went on to practice companion animal medicine in the Midlands. She really took to the consulting side of things and helping clients with medical problems such as dermatology, behaviour and nutrition - anything that involved helping clients understand their pets better.
How to cool down a cat
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.
What temperature is too hot for cats?
"There isn’t a set temperature that’s too hot for cats — they are fairly adaptable and can survive in most environments if given time to adapt," explains Dr. Woodnutt. "The issue comes when the hot weather is sudden or unexpected and the cat cannot acclimatise in time.
Similarly, if cats are shut in cars, sheds, or conservatories this falsely raises the environmental temperature — not only is this a sudden increase but these cats often don’t have access to their usual cooling mechanisms like water or cool surfaces."
How can I tell if my cat is too hot?
"Some early common signs of cats being too hot include lethargy, drinking more, hiding away, and seeking shade/cool areas," Dr. Woodnutt says. "As cats reach heat exhaustion, they’ll become glazed, wobbly, and start vomiting or having seizures. This is now an emergency. Unlike dogs, cats don’t normally pant. If you spot your cat panting you should take them to a vet urgently."
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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.