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Cat Health

Keeping Indoor/Outdoor Cats Cool in Summer


Cats are pretty resilient to weather, but extreme heat and cold can knock any animal for a loop. Sadly, the weather is becoming more extreme each year and that puts our pets at risk for injury and death.

Heat is particularly devastating to animals. Despite hailing from the desert, cats are very susceptible to heatstroke and exhaustion.

Whether you have indoor cats or neighborhood cats in a feral colony that you care for, we have some easy ways to keep them cool in summer…

Keeping Cats Cool in Summer

Encourage water consumption

Chances are excellent that your cat is not drinking enough water. To ensure sure your cat drinks enough, consider adding a pet fountain. Most cats prefer running water. Here are two of favorite fountains. We love the Drinkwell Original Pet FountainKeep cats cool and these beautiful handmade fountains from Thirsty Cat Fountains on ETSY (which hypnotizes Cassie – see for yourself)

There are many things you can do to keep pets cool in summer – even outdoor cats. But, let’s begin with some ideas for our indoor cats.

Self-Cooling Pads

Consider purchasing one of our favorite types of cooling mats, The Green Pet Shop Self Cooling Pet PadKeep cats cool. Why do we love them. They are natural, they require no refrigeration, they are affordable and they are very resilient. Cats love them because it did a very gentle cooling rather that doesn’t keep your cats cool. This cooling pad is the only one that doesn’t need water or power to generate long-term coolness. It impressed us so much that it’s the only one I’m going to talk about here.

The pad is weight-activated, so as your cat lies down, it automatically begins to cool. When it warms up, your cat will remove herself and the pad automatically recharges. As you can see, the cooling pad that I hijacked as a product sample was quickly reclaimed by Cassie the second I left my office chair.

We found that you don’t need to put in the freezer or refrigerator – but you can if you want an extra cool resource that lasts maybe an hour longer.

This pad regenerates on it’s own – once it warms up (which it takes awhile to do), just let it air out for a few minutes. It will be right back to it’s cool self in no times.

We especially love this product because it doesn’t get “too cold” but is perfect for lowering your pet’s core temperature just slightly. Of all the products that impressed us this year, this is the one that made us say, “Ohhhh.”

Keep cats cool

Provide Cool Places

Cats love dark, cool places. The indoor cats love the cool bathtub and if it’s in a darkened bathroom, all the better. Outdoor cats need to have some access to cooler places. Be sure you provide your feral cats plenty of access to cool, shaded areas in your yard or near your feeding station.

Keeping Outdoor Cats Cool In Summer

Providing safe places for feral cats is key for surviving summers. Some cats are less feral than others and that means we can be a little more fashionable in keeping them cool.

We love these feral cat homes from Feline Furniture for those hot summer months. The insulated walls keep the home fairly insulated and the double doors (front and back) allow for escape routes if the cat feels threatened.

It takes only a few hours to freeze a jug of water, but it can help keeps outdoor cats cool in summer. Simply wrap in the frozen jug in an old t-shirt and place in an area where the cat likes to relax. They will wrap themselves around the jug and stay cool most of the day.

Dig a Trench

For outdoor, feral cats, try this trick if you have a very small colony or just want to help out a stray cat who visits your yard:

  1. Dig a small trench
  2. Place large rocks inside
  3. Punch holes in the frozen gallon of water
  4. Place it on top of rocks that lie in a hole you have dug
  5. Cover with an old towel or shirt.

As the ice begins melting, the rocks will absorb the cool water and will create a cooling effect for cats.

Note that ferals will take awhile to get used to this idea and may not use it right away. Just keep trying. They take time. If they really hate the frozen water jug, try just watering rocks down – the effect will be very similar.

(See our article, Feral Cats In Your Backyard for more information).

If you have a Catio for your pet, be sure to provide them access to a climate controlled room during the day. This is especially important in areas where heat is extreme (which now includes most of the United States).

Staying Cool on the Road

If you have to take your cat to the vet, remember that heightened anxiety severity increases body temperature. Stress increases the core temperature of a cat and that can increase the likelihood of heat stroke. If your cat doesn’t like to travel, you’ll need to take extra precautions when you’re heading to the veterinarian.

Here are ways to cool off the carrier while traveling:

  • Fill the inside food cups with crushed ice.
  • Place a cold pack in an exterior department.
  • Use a cooling harness (we like the Kumfy Tailz Cooling HarnessKeep cats cool which is designed for dogs, but works well on cats in a pinch).
  • Travel at night or early morning.
  • Place a damp lightweight towel over carrier.
  • Be sure ventilation and air reaches interior of kennel.
  • Don’t shave your cat. Their fur provides extra insulation from the heat.

Learn to recognize signs of Heat Stroke in Pets

[box title=”Early symptoms of heatstroke include:” box_color=”#ff9933″]
  • Panting
  • Anxiety, possibly demonstrated by pacing
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Respiratory distress or hyperventilation (Breeds with flat noses may exhibit this earlier because of compromised airways.)
  • Dark red gums
  • Lethargy
  • Increased body temperature: Your cat’s internal temperature should be between 100.5° and 101.5° F. A temperature of 103° or more is a definite warning sign.

Let’s be safe out there this summer!

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