I’ve learned a thing or two about keeping cats cool this summer, making sure overheating wasn’t a problem with both short hairs and long hairs under my care. Nothing like heatwaves in an already hot climate to teach you a trick or two.
Luckily, we’ve had our hottest days for the summer this year. I’m glad they’ve passed, as we had a long spell – maybe two weeks? – of crazy heatwaves this past summer. The heat wasn’t even comfortable for me, but I did my best to make the weather as comfortable as possible for the cats in my care.
It’s not always easy to make sure cats stay cool, especially if you have no air conditioning, or have special circumstances. Phoebe, a girl who found my blog a couple days ago, emailed me to explain her frustrating situation: her cat struggles with the heat, but also fears ACs and fans.
Of course the trick to keeping a cat cool is essentially the same as the trick to anything with cats – try fixing the problem from so many different angles and tackle the problem head on with so many different ideas that, when one or two land and your picky cat is finally satisfied, you’ve typically resolved the issue in a way that, in the end, is quite simple and easy to replicate.
Of course it likely took ages of testing, researching, and digging through suggestions to get there unless you’re lucky, but that’s besides the point.
Cats are notorious for being difficult, so if you’re here because you’ve tried your tricks when it came to cooling a cat and then scraped your brain, checked online, and done everything you could think of under the sun – still needing more solutions, you’ve come to the right place.
I’m here to try to give you (hopefully) at least a few extra trips that might finally do the trick in helping you keep your cat cool for the summer.
Have ideas of your own that you think could help other pet parents out? Take a second once you’ve gone through this article to leave a comment down below – please! Because that trick could be the one thing that works better than anything else for another pet parent and their cat(s).
Now let’s take a quick look at Phoebe’s email, then jump into all the recommendations for keeping cats cool in the summer. Here’s the email:
Hi! I just found your blog tonight and I’m so glad! You have creative answers for nearly every question about cat care I’ve found myself figuratively banging my head against the internet over repeatedly for ages with little success.
One question (maybe you’ve discussed this too and I haven’t found it yet) I have is about keeping cats cool during the summer. My cat Alice seems to be bothered by everything I’ve tried :(. She’s scared of ACs *and* fans. My theory is maybe it bothers her to feel her fur moving in a breeze. I’ve also tried cooling mats for cats/dogs which she’s ignored even if I try putting them on the floor where she typically prefers sprawling when it’s hot. I’ve tried putting treats on them but she just eats the treat and then leaves the mat and proceeds to ignore it again. I’ve also tried wrapping up ice in towels and putting it in one of her regular spots while she’s in a different spot but then she’ll avoid the spot with the ice cubes. I’ve also tried just putting the towel-wrapped ice cubes near her, which often causes her to get up and move several feet away before plopping back down. She has plenty of water but doesn’t like it if I put ice cubes in too and I do brush her a bit though not too frequently because she finds it overstimulating. (she’s quite a particular kitty!)
I know she’s managing alright and finding spaces that are relatively the coolest at the time to lie down but I can tell she’s miserable too and I wish I could do something to help her without bothering her. If you have any thoughts it would be awesome but if not I’m still happily learning a lot from your blog so far.
Okay so that’s the email from Phoebe. Let’s hope I (or one of you in the comments!) can help her by listing out a slew of tips and tricks. Crossing fingers something sticks!
How to Keep Indoor & Outdoor Cats Cool in Hot Weather
1. Try Adding a Variety of Cool Surfaces Your Cat Can Rest On
You’ve done a great job trying pet cooling mats and wrapping up towels in ice to see if that would help your situation.
Besides that, in terms of commercial “made for cooling pets” products, the only thing I can think of that might do the trick better than cooling mats (which I’m guessing your cat doesn’t like because it’s not flat enough and thus not what she deems comfortable to lie on) is an elevated cooling pet bed like this one.
Those are a lot more well liked by pets, again, in my opinion because they’re perfectly flat. My guess is regular cooling mats feel too weird to sit/sleep on, sort of like water beds feel to humans, there’s just something not quite right about them.
In terms of which elevated pet bed to grab, I’d stick to getting a larger one, although it’s more expensive than the smaller sizes, because I’ve noticed if cats don’t have enough space to sprawl on a surface – again, they usually completely avoid it for an alternative.
That being said, you don’t have try to increase cool surfaces with anything made-for-cats. Ever had a coffee table with a ceramic top? That might do the trick.
Ceramic, stone like marble or granite, and a bunch of other regularly used materials for human furniture likely work out perfectly for that cool-to-the-touch feeling that’ll help keep cats much cooler than lying on the alternative.
Don’t have any of this? What about tile floors or a standard bath tub? Ever placed your cat on these to see if maybe that was the perfect rest place your cat’s just never tried out? Give it a shot!
But also don’t underestimate the coolness of a standard laminate or wooden floor. If your cat is resting on a surface and just won’t budge, maybe that surface is cool enough and you’ll have to use other tricks to get your cat cool, like the rest of these…
2. Use Shade to Your Advantage
I know it sucks sitting in a dark room while the sun is shining outside, but boy have there been days here where I wasn’t left with much of a choice. That sun beating down on the room was not helping matters, so those blinds/curtains had to be closed.
A lot of people who are looking to cool their homes, regardless of pets just for their own comfort, switch to black out thermal insulated curtains as they keep the sun out, but they also help (due to their insulation properties) keep cool air in and hot air out when they’re drawn. Super useful in keeping your home cool.
Keep those curtains drawn once the sun rises until the sun’s set and you’ll be using shade to maximum advantage. If you don’t want to do this for the whole house, you can definitely do it for a single room instead, leaving kitty an entire room of refuge away from the heat.
Have an outdoor cat to keep cool? Make use of shade-providing outdoor furniture that’s quick and easy to get up and down. Both you and your cat will benefit from it!
3. Circulate Cool Air Using Fans & A/C
If your cat is avoiding a fans and AC’s direct flow, that doesn’t mean he or she’s not reaping the benefits!
Air circulation helps keep the ambient temperature of the room down, so its not even necessary for a cat to be sitting in front of a fan to reap the rewards of that fan being on.
I don’t always like sitting in front of a fan or the AC myself. It’s just too much sometimes to have that direct flow headed straight at me. But that doesn’t mean the fan being on in the room isn’t helping me unless I’m directly in front of it.
If your cat doesn’t like the feeling of fans or air conditioning units, try giving him or her a spot away from the direct flow instead. Or angle the fan toward the wall in case that helps him or her stay in the same room.
And if your cat becomes okay with fans angled away from him or her, but you need the house to be cooler and A/C units are still not okay, try this fan-hack: place a bowl of ice or an ice pack directly in front of your fan.
The fan will hit the ice and circulate the coolness around the room. I’ve tried this trick and it works so well, although you have to keep replacing the ice once it’s melted. Even if you have all this angled to the wall, it will still cool the room substantially.
Need help keeping an outdoor cat cool with circulation? Again, human outdoor furniture to the rescue – as there are outdoor appropriate fans you can buy that are quite affordable. And again, they double to keep you cool in the summer as well!
4. Try Other Tricks to Keep Your Home Cool
I’ve heard of plenty of other tricks being used to keep houses cool without electricity. Some of my favourites include:
As mentioned, block out all the sunlight during the day, but once that sun sets, open all the windows and let the cool air in all night to help cool the house down.
Close off unused rooms so you’re really only keeping cool what you need to and not allowing cool air to spill out into other rooms.
Don’t take hot showers if it’s possible to reduce the heat in the home. And stoves and ovens create heat, so if you can, minimize your use of them. Try to cook outdoors (BBQs are amazing anyways) if you can. Or, try using the oven during cooler hours of the day to make those peak hot hours less suffocating.
5. If You Have an Outdoor Cat, Keep Them in for Heatwaves
There are some cats who just will not stay in for anything, but if you have a cat who’s okay with staying in sometimes, or as long as they’re occupied, do try to keep your outdoor cats in for heatwaves.
That way not only can you help keep them cool, but you can see if they start to show signs of heat stroke, which according to PetMD looks like this:
Initial signs that typically indicate the heat is causing him some distress (heat stress) include:
Restless behavior as your cat tries to find a cool spot
Panting, sweaty feet, drooling, excessive grooming in an effort to cool off
Rectal temperature is usually normal to slightly elevated
Then, as your cat’s body temperature begins to rise, signs of heat exhaustion become evident, including:
Rapid pulse and breathing
Redness of the tongue and mouth
Stumbling, staggering gait
Rectal temperature is over 105° F
Eventually the body temperature will be high enough to cause the cat to collapse and have seizures or slip into a coma.
If your outdoor cat just can’t be kept in the whole day, maybe it’s possible to keep them in during the hottest parts of the day, then let them out in the evening when it’s cooler, so long as this is safe to do in your area.
6. Keep Your Cat’s Drinking Water Cool
Keeping your cat’s drinking water cool is an excellent trick that you can take advantage of in multiple ways.
You pointed out one incredibly common trick – placing ice in your cat’s bowl a few times a day, but said your cat doesn’t like water with ice in it.
Alternatives you can try include: keeping a spare water bowl in the fridge and taking the cool water bowl out (replacing it with another spare water bowl in the fridge) a couple times a day.
You can also keep your cat’s water bowl in the bathroom or kitchen – somewhere there are tiled floors that in my experience help keep water bowls cooler than placing them on wood or laminate floors.
You can try grabbing an ice pack and placing your cat’s water bowl on top as well.
7. Encourage Your Cat to Drink More
To be honest, I feel like a lot of the reasons a cat might reject ice water is because he or she doesn’t feel like drinking to begin with.
Cats are notorious for not drinking enough water, which is why it’s good to use techniques like these tricks to make sure your cat drinks more water daily, especially when temperatures are very hot.
You can combine these with the water-in-the-fridge or water + ice technique to make sure your cat is drinking cold water, or you could do them on their own to just make sure your cat stays hydrated during very hot days.
Essentially my favourite tricks include:
Adding catnip to your cat’s water. If your cat likes the taste of catnip, this “catnip cold tea” is pretty hard to resist. Offer it to your cat at least once, maybe twice a day.
Offer your cat food mixed with water – either kibble or wet food, once or twice a day.
Make sure you’re watching how much your cat eats in total to be sure your cat isn’t overeating, but this trick can definitely help your cat ingest more water in a way that isn’t annoying to him or her.
You can also leave the faucet of a sink or bathtub dripping ever so slightly if your cat prefers to drink droplets of water or running water instead of still water.
Anything you can do to keep your cat well hydrated will definitely help during heatwaves if your cat’s struggled with not drinking in the past.
And again, you can always mix these tricks to encourage cats to drink with the ice cube and/or fridge water trick to help cool your cat down during the hottest parts of the day.
8. Brush Your Cat Regularly or Get Your Cat Shaved
Brushing your cat regularly is supposed to help keep your cat cooler, as is shaving your cat if that’s possible for you to get someone to do.
You can even shave short haired cats, so if you’re very worried, this is a viable option even for those without long hair breeds.
In terms of brushing cats who get overstimulated, I’ve found that consistency, and short frequent bouts of brushing is key.
It helps them become used to the sensation, and over-stimulation happens a lot less often if brushing doesn’t happen for too long.
My second tip is to make sure you get a brush that really gets off a lot of hair in one go. Otherwise, you end up doing a lot of brushing without a lot of results, all the while your cat gets overstimulated and you have barely any loose hair to show for it.
The best brush by far that I’ve ever used is the Furminator – I have the long haired cat version and I use it on my long and short haired cats. It takes off so much hair in one go, I remember being in shock when I first used it after many years of using other brushes to take off cat hair.
I also have the Kong Cat Zoom Groom Massage Brush, and let me tell you, it does nothing on my long-haired cats, but on my short-hairs, if I press down on their fur into a blanket, the amount of hair that just falls off of them is crazy.
It’s not even supposed to be a brush, it’s supposed to be a massage tool, I think, but because my short haired cats lose hair even when I’m just petting them, it makes sense that it works so well.
It doesn’t create as much over-stimulation, it’s way more enjoyable for them, but I’m not sure if it will do this for all short hairs or if it’s just my two that it happens with. Definitely hasn’t worked on the long-hairs to do anything but give a massage. So I’d say, worth a shot if you have a short haired cat.
I’d recommend brushing your cat at night when the temperature is cooler, multiple times throughout the night in very short bouts if your cat gets over stimulated.
It can be uncomfortable to be brushed during the heat of the day, as the heat itself brings discomfort on it’s own, let alone while being brushed.
9. If You Have Cooler Spaces (Like Basements), Keep Cats There for Hot Times of Day
If you live in a house rather than apartment, chances are high you have multiple levels in your house, even if you live in a bungalow.
If the heat starts getting unbearable on the top or ground floor and you have a basement you can take advantage of, absolutely use that basement’s cool temperature to your feline’s advantage by moving kitty into the basement for the hotter times of the day.
It’ll likely be such an appreciated escape from the heat that kitty will want to be down there without needing to be asked quite often as the hot weather persists.
Hence, it’s a good idea to make sure your basement is a place you’re happy to have your pet allowed in and out of, and to leave the door to the basement open in case your kitty wants some relief from the heat.
Don’t have a basement but your cat usually stays upstairs where it’s hotter than on the main level of your home in the summer? Try moving your cat to the main level to show him or her how much cooler it is down on the main level. He or she may not have realized.
10. Similarly, Keep Cats Out of Incredibly Hot Spaces
If there are spaces in your home or on your property that are incredibly hot – like a specific room that gets the full blast of sunlight for all the hot times of day, a shed that gets ridiculously hot at the peak of the day, a kitchen that gets too hot if you end up cooking a meal or two for the day – keep your kitty out of those spaces as much as possible.
It’s likely your cat won’t want to go into any of these spaces when he or she is hot, but there’s a chance your cat won’t know how hot these places are or will end up being during peak heat hours, and will end up stuck in a ridiculously hot space because they don’t realize there are better places to snooze.
This tip is especially important for outdoor cats who do a lot of exploring ’cause they’re curious and/or adventurous types.
If you have a cat who might get stuck inside a greenhouse where temperatures are almost guaranteed to peak like mad, for instance, be sure your cat doesn’t end up trapped in here with the door closed, or his or her survival might be at stake.
11. Play With Your Cat at Night So He/She Can Rest in the Morning Without Getting the Zoomies
If you have an active cat who likes to play and run around, make sure he or she is getting his or her activity on at night instead of in the morning.
Typically, this will be something your cat will likely adapt to do on his or her own, especially since most cats don’t bother to move around when they’re too hot and will just laze around, lying down and snoozing for the hot parts of the day.
Still, it’s a good idea to help a kitty out by making sure play time gets done during the cooler hours of the day (if your cat’s even in the mood to play at all), so he or she can concentrate on resting during the hotter parts of the day instead.
12. Snuggle With Kitty at Night So They Get Attention Without Having to Overheat During Daytime
Some cats are ridiculous snuggle bugs who love attention from their pet parents and thus are both in need of regular cuddles and love from you, but also by merit of you being used to cuddling them, will make you more likely to try to cuddle more often.
Do your best – during hotter summer days – to get in as many cuddles as possible in the evening when it’s cooler instead of during the hotter hours of daytime.
It’s true from your side of things (wanting to cuddle when things are hot will result in a less-than-ideal situation for an already-bothered-by-heat-cat), and from your cat’s side of things (them wanting to cuddle during the day because they didn’t cuddle enough at night might make them heat up a lot more).
Don’t decline cuddles, but do try to get as many as you can in at night, so your cat can get as much attention as he or she wants in the cooler hours, and can be free to avoid extra heat that happens when cuddling during hotter parts of the day.
Your Thoughts on Cooling Cats Down?
Do you have any tips for cooling cats down during hot summer days?
Have you tried anything that worked much better than other things you’ve tried? Anything you’ve tried that didn’t work out at all?
It’s good for other pet parents to know where they should start their attempts, so please do share any experience you have – whether it worked or didn’t!
Have you ever had a cat overheat? Ever had a cat dehydrate due to not drinking enough in the summer when they needed to be drinking more?
Any more thoughts, tips, advice, or stories about cats and hot summer weather?
Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments down below!