Cats already know they’re cool (have you seen the side-eye they’re capable of?), but in terms of keeping their temperature regulated during summer months, they may need a little boost from their BFF. Since they can’t tell you when they’re overheating, here’s a handy list of actions you can take preemptively to keep your kitty cool.
Know the risks
“The incidence of heat stroke in cats is rare,” says Dr. Katja Lang, DVM, at Heart of Chelsea Veterinary Group. However, that doesn’t mean felines are immune to heat stroke. In fact, like dogs with shorter noses, short-nosed cat breeds are way more susceptible to overheating. Persian, Scottish Fold and Exotic Shorthair cats are all breeds that suffer from this condition, which makes breathing—and therefore, staying cool—difficult.
Provide lots of shade
Cats may swap that sunny patch on the windowsill for a shady spot under the bed when it gets too hot. Provide cool, dark spaces where your cat can curl up during the hottest months of the year. Maybe even close the blinds to create a big shady palace. (Providing shade is extra important if your outdoor cat lounges on your deck or in the yard.)
Let your cat roam
Dr. Lang does warn against confined spaces, though, so make sure your cat has plenty of wiggle room. For instance, shutting a cat into a small sunroom, even if there’s some shade, is a bad idea. Let her move about as she needs to find those cooler spots. (For outdoor kitties, make sure they don’t get locked into sheds or playhouses.)
Provide lots of water
“Always make sure your cat has access to clean water,” adds Dr. Lang. This is a no-brainer for us humans because we know hydration is key for endurance and dewy skin. Just make sure you provide tons for your kitty, too. Placing several water dishes around the house (or adding an extra during the summer) is smart.
Crank up the AC
Air conditioning has the same effect on a cranky, hot cat as it does on a cranky, hot person during the dog days of summer. Cold air blowing consistently chills everyone out. This one is kind of a “duh,” but even if you don’t have AC, placing enough fans around your home to ensure a steady breeze is crucial when it’s stiflingly hot.
Do not leave your cat in a car
“Cats should not be kept in a car during hot or humid days,” warns Dr. Lang. Not that you’d just toss your cat in the car and walk away, but even on trips to the vet, make sure there’s plenty of cool air circulating through her carrier. Cars on hot days can be fatal.
Brush your cat’s coat on the reg
According to the American Animal Hospital Association, cats shed their thick winter coats in the summer. Brushing your cat regularly when it’s hot outside can help keep her coat thinner and, therefore, cooler. Plus, this can instigate a self-grooming session—another way cats keep their temperatures down. Licking fur temporarily cools coats. Neat, huh?
Use damp towels
Cats sweat through their paw pads (funny, right?), so if you sense they’re getting too warm, wrap their paws in a damp towel.
If you follow these tips, your cats will think you’re cool. However, as always, if it seems your cat is suffering from heat stroke, get her to an emergency veterinary hospital immediately.