Even though your cat's ancestors originated in desert climates, our modern felines can still get too hot, especially if they roam outside. Understanding how to keep your outdoor cat cool in the summer months keeps your outdoor kitty safe, and it allows you to help out any stray or feral cats in the neighborhood. Use these tips to protect the health of your cat as the weather warms up.
How Hot Is Too Hot for Cats?
Ambient temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit are simply too hot for cats. When it gets this toasty outside, they're at risk of developing heat stroke and can easily burn their paw pads on hot surfaces. If your outdoor thermometer reads into the 80s or above, it's best to keep your cat inside where it's cool and safe.
Ground temperatures (particularly asphalt and pavement) can be as much as 60 degrees over the ambient temperature and can burn a cat's paws in minutes.
5 Ways to Keep Outdoor Cats Cool in Summer Heat
Sometimes it might not be possible to keep a cat inside, like in the case of a feral cat. Fortunately, cats are highly intelligent, and they can stay cool on their own if you give them the proper resources to escape the heat.
1. Keep Them Hydrated
Cats can easily become dehydrated in warm temperatures, so you'll want to make sure they have fresh water readily available. A great trick is to put out two bowls of fresh water: one bowl should be fresh and cool, and the other frozen. The frozen bowl will melt slowly and provide cool water later in the day. When temperatures reach above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you should refill the bowls every couple of hours.
You can throw ice cubes into a water bowl to cool it down for indoor cats during the summer months, too.
2. Try a Cool Compress or Bed
Chilled water will cool your cat from the inside out, but you can also cool them from the outside in. Take a cool, damp cloth and wipe it over your cat. If they'll tolerate water, you can even gently wet them with a spray bottle.
Cooling an outdoor resting area can work just as well. For this, wrap a towel around a bag of frozen peas, or a frozen bottle of water and place it in an outdoor bed so your kitty can lie on it to cool off. You can purchase cooling beds specifically made for pets and place these outside, as well.
3. Provide Plenty of Shade
It's always cooler in the shade, right? Make sure you provide outdoor cats with shady places where they can escape the sun. You can do this by placing beds or food under a porch or low-lying shrubs to encourage them to relax there. It's also helpful to give them elevated places to rest so they stay off hot surfaces, such as a raised pet bed or an outdoor cat house.
4. Groom Them Regularly
Cats shed their thick undercoat in the summer to keep them cool, which you can help with through grooming. Brush your cat daily to allow the air to move freely through their fur, particularly if your cat has long hair. For feral cats, place a self-grooming brush outside in a location where they can rub up against it.
Resist shaving your cat during the summer! Doing so can actually make them hotter.
5. Create a Cool Cat Oasis
Consider getting or building an insulated cat house. The house stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter and offers your cat a place to escape extreme cold and heat. If you have a garage or a shed that is not in use, you could place fans inside to create a cool oasis.
Do cats like fans? Some cats hate feeling a breeze on their face or don't like it when their fur is ruffled, but a cat who is feeling hot will definitely appreciate a fan.
Signs a Cat Is Overheating
Cats left inside vehicles on hot days are the most common heat stroke victims. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach about 104 degrees within 15 minutes. But a cat left outdoors in extremely high temperatures can also become overheated. Elderly cats, kittens, and obese cats are more likely to suffer from heat stroke. Signs that your cat might be overheating include:
What to Do if Your Cat Overheats
When a cat shows signs of overheating, you need to act quickly to protect your cat.
- Take their temperature if you suspect your cat may be overheating. The normal temperature for cats is between 100.4 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take steps to cool them off if your cat's temperature is above that range. The quickest way to cool a cat down is to wet their fur with cool water. Avoid using freezing cold water or ice.
- Phone your veterinarian for further instructions. They will likely need to see your cat, depending upon how high your cat's temperature is and which symptoms they exhibit.
Watch Your Cat Carefully
If you must leave your cat outdoors during the sizzling days of summer, keep a close watch on them. By spotting the signs of an impending heat stroke, you can take steps to minimize the damage, and make sure you keep them well hydrated. With a little planning and knowledge, your cat will make it through summer as healthy as when the season started.