We might enjoy the hot weather but our feline friends might be feeling the heat. Read our tips on keeping your cat cool, happy and healthy over the summer months.
Cats can't keep cool as easily as we can. Although cats are originally from a desert environment, they used to avoid problems by staying in the shade during the hot days and hunting and being active at dawn and dusk. They can only sweat through their paw pads and will only pant like dogs when they're extremely hot. We've also bred some cats to have much thicker coats which means it's harder for them to keep cool.
Which cats feel the heat?
Any cat can struggle with the heat and it's important for all cat owners to be aware of the signs of overheating and heatstroke. Common signs include:
- Wobbling or struggling to stand up.
Some cats will find it more difficult to cope with the heat than others. These cats might need a little bit of extra care during the summer months to make sure they're comfortable.
- Flat-faced breeds. Cat breeds with short noses – like Persian or British Shorthairs – can have difficulty breathing because of the extra tissues at the back of their throat. Breathing problems can get much worse in hot weather
- Fluffy cats. Cats with long or thick fur will feel the heat more than their short haired friends. They might need extra help to cool down in a heatwave and need regular grooming. They might even appreciate a summer hair cut!
- Older cats or cats with health problems. These cats are generally more sensitive to the heat and are more prone to serious problems like heatstroke. It may be safer to keep poorly cats inside the home, so that they don’t become overwhelmed by the heat outside and not be able to get themselves to somewhere more comfortable.
- Overweight cats. Carrying some extra weight puts your cat’s body under extra strain. This can make it harder for them to cope with the heat.
Out and about
It can be tricky to help your cat keep cool if they love to be out exploring, but you can make sure your garden is a shady haven on summer days:
- Create shade. Trees and shrubs create great natural shade for garden-loving cats. You can also hang a sheet or blanket up to create a shady spot.
- Garden drinks. Make sure your cat has access to fresh, clean water when they’re in the garden.
- Mornings and evenings. Let your cat out to explore in the morning and evening when the weather is likely to be cooler. Try to keep them inside during the hottest part of the day.
- Sun protection. Cats with white or thin fur will need some extra protection from the sun so stock up on pet-safe sun cream. Read more about protecting your cat from the sun’s harmful rays.
Around the house
Here’s how you can keep your cat cool if they prefer to lounge around the house on hot days:
- Plenty of water. Have a couple of water bowls around the house so your cat won’t have to go far to find a drink. This is especially important if you have more than one cat, as they don’t like sharing bowls. You can find more tips on keeping your cat hydrated here.
- Avoid warm rooms. Keep your cat out of rooms that are likely to get very hot, like conservatories. Cats can also quickly overheat in cars and caravans.
- Create a cool room. Encourage them to spend time in a nice, cool area of the house. Make the room enticing with places to rest: if it's very hot you could provide some ceramic tiles as a nice place to kick back and keep cool. Offer your cat a couple of healthy treats so they associate the room with something special!
- Open windows. Cats are curious by nature and the cool breeze from an open window will be very temping for them. Stop your cat from having a serious accident by putting mesh or netting across your windows. If your cat does have a fall, always get them checked by your vet.
Summer grooming for long-haired cats
Long-haired cats are more likely to overheat in summer – it’s not surprising with all that extra fluff!
A good grooming routine is important all year round but can really help in the hotter months. A daily brush will help get rid of any excess fur and will get rid of any troublesome knots.
Some cats might appreciate a summer trim to help keep them cool. It’s usually best to take them to a professional groomer for this.
Our top tips for keeping cats cool in summer
- Ice cubes might be good to cool us down, but they can also cool your cat down while encouraging them to play. Pop a couple of ice cubes on a hard floor and encourage your cat to bat them around.
- Always make sure there are plenty of shady areas for your cat to go, both outside and inside.
- Put water bowls in different places around your house and outside so your cat always has a source of water.
- Try popping an ice pack or frozen water bottle wrapped in a blanket in one of their beds or an area they like to sleep so they have somewhere cool to lean on.
- Play with them at dawn and dusk – when the weather is coolest – so they’re less likely to run around during the hotter hours of the day.