9 Ways To Keep Your Cat Cool In The Heat
Here at Supakit HQ in London summer has only just begun, but it’s looking like it’s going to be a scorcher. Our two normally boisterous cats have transformed themselves into energy conserving-machines, throwing themselves dramatically on the floor every few steps to rest and bask in the shade! Is there anything you can do to keep a cat cool in the heat? In this week’s post I want to share some simple fixes that will make even the most scorching summer a breeze for your cat!
1. Don’t shave or trim your cat
My first thought when I look at my two cats in the heat is – you poor things, I’m boiling in a summer dress, but you’re wearing a fur coat!
It can be tempting to think that trimming or clipping their fur would help keep a cat cool in the heat.
But a cat’s fur is perfectly designed to regulate their temperature. It’s an insulator, which means it insulates them from what’s going on outside. When it’s cold out, it keeps them warm. But when it’s warm out, all that fur is actually keeping them cool.
“Cats…really get no benefit from being shaved”
Mark J Stickney, DVM
Clinical Associate Professor at Texas A&M University Veterinary Hospital
So there’s really no need to give your cat a ‘lion cut’ in the heat. In fact, removing their protective layer of fur can put them at risk of sunburn, so spare them a brush with the clippers and let their amazing fur do its job as built-in climate control!
2. Groom your cat daily
We’ve seen how important your cat’s fur is to their temperature control. In the hot summer months, you can help keep their cooling layer of fur in tip top condition by brushing them daily. This removes any dead or matted fur in their undercoat, allowing trapped air to circulate near your cat’s skin. And it’s this pocket of air that forms the all-important buffer to keep your cat cool in the heat.
3. Protect your cat from sunburn
Light-coloured or furless cats are particularly susceptible to sunburn. The bits that are most vulnerable are those without fur to cover them, like the tips of their ears and nose. If your cat is an indoor cat, make sure their sleeping areas are out of direct sunlight, as UV can travel through windows and they could get burnt while they sleep.
If your cat is an outdoor cat, you might want to consider using a feline sunscreen. It’s best that you don’t use human sunscreen on your cat – some are safe but others contain products that are toxic to cats. The ideal solution is to buy a cat-specific sunblock (e.g. Filtabac) and apply it to your cat regularly to avoid them getting burnt.
4. Give your cat plenty of fresh water
While temperatures are high, provide your cat with extra bowls of fresh water, in multiple locations around the house.
If it’s particularly hot or you’re going to be out at work in the day, pop a couple of ice cubes in your cat’s water bowl. Not only will they keep the water cool – many cats will often dip a paw in to play with the ice cubes as they bob around, all of which helps keep them cool in the heat!
5. Create shady places
We all know how smart our cats are. They’re actually much better than dogs at dealing with the heat. All we need to do is provide them with the tools to do so.
Whether your cat is an indoor cat or outdoor cat, make sure they have lots of shady spaces to chill out in. You can create shade by putting up parasols, leaving cardboard boxes out for them, or draping a damp towel over an empty laundry basket.
6. Make your cat a catsicle!
Yep, it’s a popsicle for your cat, and it’s a super fun way to help them cool down in the sun. Here are some of our favourite recipes…
7. Make playtime early or late
The peak of the midday heat isn’t the time to get the fishing rod toys out. Save playtime with your cats for the coolest parts of the morning and evening, to avoid them over-exerting themselves in the heat.
8. Know how to spot the signs of heatstroke
Early signs that your cat is overheating may include:
- Restless behaviour as they try to find a cool spot
- Panting, sweaty paw pads, drooling and excessive grooming – a strategy they use in an effort to cool off (their saliva takes heat away from the body as it evaporates from their fur).
If your cat displays the above symptoms, use the ideas outlined here to help them cool down. You can also wrap some frozen peas in a damp towel and lie them on it to help bring their body temperature down, or stroke them with a damp cloth.
Advanced signs that your cat is suffering from heatstroke include:
- Rapid, open-mouthed breathing
- Stumbling, staggering gait
If your cat displays the above symptoms, it is a veterinary emergency. Cover them with a cool, damp towel (making sure they don’t get water in their eyes or nose) and rush them to your nearest vet for immediate treatment.
9. Check enclosed spaces
Enclosed spaces like greenhouses, sheds and cars can reach furnace-like temperatures within just a few minutes of closing their doors. It goes without saying that you should never leave your cat in a car on a hot day. But during the summer it’s worth taking extra pains to check enclosed spaces are cat-free before you close the door.