Last time, I gave you 8 awesome ways to help your cat stay chill in the summer heat. That post was all about staying hydrated. This one’s more about getting some cool air circulating. (Are you sensing an elemental theme here?)
But first things first:
Learn how to recognise heat exhaustion
[C]ats do not tolerate heat any better than people. [They can] only pant or sweat through their foot pads in order to get rid of excess heat. As the body temperature rises, the cat will suffer heat exhaustion and eventually heat stroke. If the body temperature is not brought down quickly, serious organ damage or death could result.
- Sweaty feet
- High temperature
There are other symptoms, but they seem to be less common and, thus, less obvious.
So what are some ways you can help your cat stay cool?
Give your cat some fresh air
1. Open a window
If your cat is allowed to go outdoors (unlike mine mwahahah haha hahaaaa), create a draft by opening a window. It will also give them the option to go outside if it’s cooler there than it is in the house.
If your cat isn’t allowed outside but you still want to open windows (unlike the wasp-phobic moi), you can buy all kinds of nets and frames to give them some fresh air in the safety of their home.
And if you have the money and the room, you could even build or buy a full-sized catio so they can roam without getting run over.
What you go for obviously depends on your budget, and you’ll need permission for some installations, but most will be well worth the money if you have multiple cats. (Or even if you have just the one.)
2. Make sure they have access to different windows
My best friend suggested this one when he realised that his cat prefers different windows at different times of the day.
Before he mentioned it, I hadn’t thought much about it, but KitKat does the same thing: she’ll sit and chirp at the birds in the back yard in the morning, then sunbathe and people-watch in the lounge bay in the afternoon.
So, clear off windows on both sides of your home so that if one is too hot, your cat can still enjoy a view of the outdoors from the shady side.
3. Make shaded windows more inviting
If your cat doesn’t like the windows on the shady side of the house, try to make it more inviting.
You could even try to grow cat grass or catnip on the shaded sill (just don’t put it out until it’s had a chance to actually grow), or put a bird feeder on the glass so your cat has something to watch.
If all else fails, sprinkle treats or catnip on the window sill during the hottest time of the day to tempt your cats away from their sun-spots and into the cooler parts of the house.
Help them chill out
4. Turn on a fan
I never have the windows open because I have a massive phobia of wasps and bees. There is no such thing as fresh air in this house, so I have to find other ways to make sure we can cool off.
Obviously, there’s no substitute for the sweet outdoors, but air conditioning or a house fan will make all the difference.
It will be even better for your kitty if you can pop the fan in a shady spot where your cat can lounge around in the chill or move away to warm up again.
Keep safety in mind! You don’t want your cat dipping a paw behind the mesh and getting hurt by the spinning fan blades.
I strongly advise that you do not put ribbons on your fan as seen in some movies. Ribbons are like catnip to kitties. You don’t want them to start tugging and playing and accidentally pull the fan down on top of themselves.
5. Add some ice to your fan
Pop some ice cubes in front of your fan or air conditioner to cool down your home even more.
If you’ve used the tips from last time, you could put your catsicles or ice balloons in a big dish in front of the fan so that the air coming off it is much cooler and your kitties are tempted to sit closer while they lick their icy treats.
6. Groom your cat
Pet Finder says that “a well-groomed, tangle-free coat will help keep your cat cool.”
I say that your cat is going to groom themselves, but at least they’ll be less prone to shedding, hairballs and vomiting if you help them out. Certainly, since KitKat started letting me groom her, I’ve binned at least her own body weight in fur. Just imagine if she had to swallow all of that!
Grooming can be tricky, as can finding equipment your cat will like, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. KitKat’s favourite tool was a grooming glove that cost me just 99p from ZooPlus. We’ve since moved on to a FURminator I bought on eBay for £6.99.
Of course, you have to get your cat accustomed to being handled first, and be aware of seasonal changes. KitKat won’t let me groom her at all in the winter, but she loves it during the hotter months. She also hates being held or restrained so I make sure her favourite box is available; as soon as I get out the brushes, she climbs in and curls up. (She even moves around to let me access different parts of her when she’s had enough.)
Provide cool shade
That’s cool shade, not cool shades.
7. Create a shady spot outdoors
To give outdoor kitties the sun they want but also the shade they’ll need, make sure they have a spot in your garden or balcony that will let them cool off.
Or you can go for the slightly cheaper but still permanent option of a rabbit hutch kitted out for your outdoor kitties.
These have the added benefit of sheltering cats in the colder months and summer storms, so they might be expensive initially but will probably see a lot of use by your outdoor cats (and the neighbourhood kitties, too).
But if you can’t DIY to save your life and you can’t afford a more permanent structure like this, you could still create a shelter with a few plastic boxes and some insulation (like this one from Catster).
And if all else fails, put up a garden umbrella or even just throw a tarp over two chairs so they always have somewhere to escape the blazing sun.
8. Create a shady spot in the house
I already talked about making sure your cat has access to a shaded window so they can stay cool while still being entertained by the outdoors, but I’ve found that KitKat doesn’t want to spend all her time watching the birds.
Maybe your cat likes to watch the telly. Maybe they like to supervise your kids doing their homework. Maybe they like to follow their humans around.
Either way, you need to make sure there are plenty of cool places dotted throughout the house so they can do what they’re going to do without overheating.
This is probably easier than making sure outdoor cats can escape the sunshine. Most houses have a lot of natural shady spots already. Your job, then, is to make sure these places are easily accessible and inviting to your kitty.
9. Provide cool flooring
I don’t mean to buy the jazziest carpet you can find (although, you know. You could do that too). As PetPav says, “if you find your cat in the bathroom on the tile floor, there is a reason.”
As soon as the weather warmed up, KitKat abandoned all her winter favourites and found new spots around the house to haunt. Instead of curling up in the cosy little den on her cat tree, she took to the cooler shade of a cardboard house. She spends most of her time in a box on my desk rather than on the bed itself. And while the carpet in my bedroom has a very short pile, she still prefers the lino in the hall when it’s really hot.
Not only do you need to be prepared to see your cat in new and wondrous places (like the fridge if you don’t close the door fast enough), you also need to make sure there’s somewhere in the house that isn’t carpeted — even if it means buying one of those cooling pads, plastic mats, or an off-cut of lino to cover up that expensive shag rug for a while.
For more advice
For more tips and advice, try the Pet Health Network’s Help Your Cat Beat the Summer Heat. Catster also has some awesome suggestions in their article, 10 ways to help your cat beat the summer heat (I’m sensing a pattern here), and The Guardian has a few good tips for cats, dogs, and even small pets like bunnies.