How to Keep Cats Cool
Last updated June 17, 2020.
They’re called the dog days of summer for a reason, and many cats seem to hate the heat. If you’re stuck in a heatwave, watch your cat for signs of heatstroke like excessive drooling and panting, fainting, and lethargy.
1. Do not get a lion cut.
While some will argue shaving a cat’s fur – traditionally in a “lion” cut – helps them beat the heat, others caution against it. Even normal grooming is stressful for an animal, especially such an intensive and dramatic cut. Exposing cats’ skin also puts them at risk for developing skin cancer and sunburns, especially if your kitty likes to sunbathe.
Dr. Louise Murray, Senior VP of the ASPCA Animal Hospital, advises against shaving a cat in summer. “A [pet’s] coat is kind of like insulation for your house,” she says. “Insulation stops your home from getting too cold in winter, but it also keeps it from overheating in summer—and your [pet’s] coat does the same thing.”
Instead of a full lion cut, have your cat’s fur thinned. Brush regularly to remove excess dead fur, especially in pets with a fluffy undercoat. If you absolutely must shave your cat, apply a pet-safe sunscreen daily to areas with thin or no fur. Focus on the bridge of the nose, eyebrows, belly, and ears.
2. Ice is a cat’s best friend.
Cats may not seek out ice cubs like some canines, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy its frosty touch. Pop some ice cubes in your cat’s water bowl or fountain, especially if you’re leaving on a hot day. Make some catsicles for your pet, freezing a beef or chicken broth mixture; try salmon or tuna juice for a fishy treat.
If you’re home, let Fluffy drink straight from the sink; some pet parents have even DIY’d an automatic cat faucet sensor for water on-demand. Cats are more likely to drink moving water, which appeals to their natural instincts, telling animals it’s fresh and bacteria-free.
If your pet has a favorite hangout spot, wrap an ice pack in a towel and place for built-in AC. Avoid soft, gel-filled ice packs, which can easily be punctured by kitty’s claws.
3. Apply a cooling cloth.
Many cats don’t mind the touch of a damp towel – grooming acts as a cooling mechanism in the same way, reducing body temperature as saliva evaporates. Wet a towel and freeze it for an extra-frosty cooldown.
Try gently rubbing your cat with the moistened towel, or even an ice cube in a paper towel. Every cat has a different comfort level with water; some felines will even jump in the bathtub! Explore your pet’s tolerance for H2O, but never force Fluffy to do anything unwanted.
4. Close the curtains.
It often seems that no matter the temperature, cats love to sunbathe. Whether it’s 8 or 80 degrees outside, felines seek out sunshine to lay in. Cats can easily overheat, especially in unseasonably warm temperatures. Try to limit your pet’s time catching rays; place a hand on sun-soaked fur to check for heat.
Remove the temptation to sunbathe by closing blinds and curtains during the hottest parts of the day, usually noon and from 5 to 7pm. Consider investing in blackout curtains to keep humans and felines cool in summertime.
5. Set up a fan.
At first your pet may be scared by the noisiness and forced air of a fan. But once your cat figures out the fan’s purpose, good luck using it yourself! Give your cat his own personal fan, placed in front of a usual hangout spot. For an extra blast of cool, place an ice pack or frozen water bottle in front of the blowing fan.
If you have ceiling fans, keep the cords out of paws’ reach. If your cat has a habit of chewing on cords, use split loom tubing to protect from your kitty’s needle-sharp teeth.
6. A hammock bed increases airflow.
Cats are known for preferring cardboard boxes over beds, but even the most finicky felines love a hammock bed. Available in dozens of styles, sizes and colors, the cat furniture is available as a stand-alone item or built into a cat tower. The bed’s exposed bottom promotes airflow and allows the dispersal of body heat.
Hang a cat hammock bed in the shade near a favorite window, placing a few ice packs inside and a fan nearby for the ultimate cooling cat oasis.