Do you worry about cats in hot weather? This might surprise you. Our fur helps keep us cool, even when the temperature soars. We have other ways of staying cool, too. Keep reading, and I’ll tell you what they are and how you can help cats who are outside when it gets really hot.
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I’m so concerned about the outside cats in hot weather, Thomasina. How do they keep cool? It’s blazing hot today, and my outside cat is stretched out under a bush and refuses to come in. — Concerned Cat Mom
Hey, Concerned Cat Mom…
I don’t think you need to worry about your boy. Cats in hot weather are usually just fine. We know how to stay cool. And we’re homeotherms (We’re what??? The human typist strikes again, and I don’t like the sound of that!). Oh, I see. It means we’re able to adjust internal heat gain and loss so we can maintain a constant body temperature. Well, I knew that!
Believe it or not, the most important thing cats in hot weather have going for them is their fur. It provides insulation that keeps us warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It also helps us stay hydrated and protects us from sunburn. So if you’re thinking about shaving your cat, please don’t!
Cats In Hot Weather: How We Keep Our Cool
When you get hot, you get all sweaty and wet. But we can’t do that. Cats perspire (How’s that for a polite word!) through their feet. That doesn’t do much to cool us off. So in addition to our fur, here are five other ways cats keep cool in hot weather.
1. We lick ourselves a lot. The saliva evaporating from our fur provides a cooling effect, similar to perspiration evaporating from your skin.
2.We know where the cool places are and seek them out. Outside, we’ll nap under a big bush or hang out in the woods. Inside, cats keep cool by sleeping on a tile floor or even in the sink or bathtub. The cool surface draws heat from our bodies.
3.We stretch out and may even lie on our backs because we’re cooler that way.
4. We rest and sleep more. We know exertion can make us overheat when it’s very hot.
5. We drink more. Staying hydrated will keep cats cool. I prefer to get drinks from the stream behind our condo, but your cats should have a big bowl of cool water outside when they’re outdoors. A big self-waterer in a shady place will work, too.
When Cats Lose Their Cool
This has never happened to me, thank goodness, but cats can overheat. Our average temperature range is between 99.5 and 102.5 Fahrenheit. If your cat’s temperature reaches 105, it could be fatal. You can always check his temperature with an ear thermometer, but he probably won’t appreciate that at all. But there are other ways to tell if he has hyperthermia or heatstroke.
We don’t cool down by panting the way dogs do. So if you see your cat panting, you’ll know he’s way too hot.
Other signs of heatstroke include
- A fast heartbeat
- Dilated pupils
- Drooling, stumbling, or staggering
- Damp, sweaty paws
- Short of breath
- Red or purple gums and tongue
Cooling Off A Hot Cat
If your cat shows signs of overheating, he needs to see a vet right away. This can quickly become a medical emergency. In the meantime…
- Move him to a cool place. Inside in the air conditioning is best.
- Soak his body with water or wrap him in a wet towel. The water should be cool, not freezing cold.
Helping Your Outside Cat Beat The Heat
When I’m too hot, I hang out in the woods. It’s always much cooler there. But if you don’t have woods or a big patch of trees at your house, here are some ways to help your outside cat beat the heat.
- Make sure your cat always has access to a big bowl of cool, clean water. If you have an electrical outlet on your patio or balcony, he might like a big fountain. Or let the hose trickle to form a puddle for him to drink from.
- Provide some shade. If you don’t have any outdoor furniture, put a chair or table outside so he can get away from the sun. Even a big box turned on its side will work.
- If he’ll let you, brush him every day. Getting rid of the loose hair will keep him cooler. This is our favorite brush.
- Wrap bottles of frozen water in a towel and put them where your cat likes to sleep.
- Stroke him with a cool, damp cloth. He might really like that. I know I would!
- Encourage him to come in if the temperature gets into the high 90s. Honestly, I don’t appreciate being picked up and tossed in the door when it’s beastly hot outside. But I have to admit the air conditioning feels really good.
- This is very important. Make sure your cat isn’t closed into a shed, garage, car, or someplace else with no ventilation. That’s an invitation for quick and fatal heatstroke.
I hope this helps, Concerned Cat Mom. If you’ll excuse me, I’m headed outside now. It’s getting cooler, and Muffitt is already under a big bush watching the dogs and their people go by.