11 Top Tips for How to Keep Cats Cool in Summer

Cats were domesticated from desert species, and this ancestry means most cats enjoy the sunshine and heat. They are usually good at knowing if they are getting too hot and will take measures on their own to avoid overheating, such as seeking shade. However, some cats might need a little extra help during the summer months, particularly during heat waves when it becomes more difficult for them to keep themselves cool.

Here are our top tips for how to keep cats cool in the summer.

Make Sure Your Cat Stays Hydrated

Cats have a low thirst drive, which means they don’t feel the need to drink water very often. Especially in hot weather, this can mean that cats become dehydrated easily.

Cats who are dehydrated may have sticky gums, sunken eyes, cool paws, or skin that doesn’t snap back into place immediately when very gently pinched. Always contact your vet if you think your cat may be dehydrated.

To keep your cat hydrated throughout the summer, regularly change their water bowls, keeping them clean and well filled, and make sure they have several to choose from. Water bowls should be kept away from your cat’s food bowl or toilet area. You could also add ice cubes to your cat’s bowl to keep the water cool.

Some cats may prefer a water fountain, as they are attracted to the freshness of freely flowing water. They can be great for cats who struggle to drink enough.

You could also consider feeding your cat a wet diet or giving them hydration supplements. Purina Pro Plan Hydra Care is a complementary wet cat food that has been designed to increase water intake in cats and promote hydration. Always check with your vet before making dietary changes.

Read our top tips for encouraging your cat to drink more water for more advice.

Feed Your Cat as Normal in Hot Weather

Hot weather can affect a cat’s appetite and it’s normal for cats to eat a bit less in the summer. A study by the University of Liverpool in collaboration with Royal Canin found that cats ate approximately 15% less food during the summer compared with the rest of the year.

However, you should still give your cat the same amount of food as normal and encourage them to eat it as best you can.

One thing you can try is soaking some of your cat’s normal dry food in water and then freezing it before giving it to your cat.

If you think your cat’s appetite is severely affected, or they seem to be losing weight over the summer, take them to see a vet.

Keep Playtime Calm

While stimulation is still important for your cat, too much excitement on a hot day can lead to dehydration and overheating. Limit boisterous play that involves lots of running or pouncing to early morning and later in the evening when it’s cooler – on some days you may need to avoid it altogether.

Instead, some cats may enjoy batting an ice cube or two around on a hard floor. Cats absorb and lose heat through their paws, so this activity can help to keep them cool while also engaging them mentally.

Provide Shade in Your Garden

We all know how much cats love to lay out in the sunshine, but it’s important they have plenty of shaded spots available too.

If you don’t have trees or other plants that can provide this in your garden, parasols and sun sails are a good idea, as are wooden crates turned on their side.

Shop summer essentials for your pet at Animed Direct

Check Conservatories, Greenhouses and Sheds

Cats might head inside these buildings looking for a comfy spot to curl up in, but if you don’t realise they’re in there, you might close the door and trap them inside where they don’t have access to water or ventilation. Always check inside sheds, greenhouses, garages, summer houses and conservatories before you lock up.

Safely Ventilate Your Home

On some days, you may need to keep your cat inside. During a heatwave, the pavements can become so hot that they burn your cat’s paw pads. Or, your cat might wander the streets where there is little shade and become sunburnt or dehydrated.

On these days, and for indoor cats, it’s important to keep your home well-ventilated and cool.

In the UK, it’s very rare to have air conditioning in our homes, so we need to find ways to keep cool without it. Setting up a fan in the room where your cat spends most of their time is a great start. Some cats may appreciate a fan blowing directly on them, but make sure they are able to move out of the breeze if they want to.

It’s also a good idea to fit netting frames or screens to your windows, so that you can keep them open without worrying about your cat escaping or falling out.

Offer Your Cat Ice Treats

It’s very easy to whip up some ‘cat ice lollies’ using simple ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

Try adding the spring water from a tin of tuna or some low-salt chicken stock to an ice lolly mould (or a clean yoghurt pot or paper cup) and popping it in the freezer.

Not only will these cool your cat down, but they’ll provide some all important enrichment and stimulation for days when it’s too hot for them to go outside or play properly.

Use Cat Cooling Mats

Damp towels to lie on, or specially designed pet cooling mats, will provide welcome relief from the heat.

You could also try wrapping a frozen bottle of water in a towel and putting it near where your cat sleeps – but don’t put it directly onto your cat, and make sure they can avoid it if they want to.

Groom Your Cat Regularly

Dead fur, tangles and matts trap heat, so brush your cat regularly to remove any. This will leave your cat with a lighter, cooler coat.

Cats sometimes groom themselves a bit more than usual when it’s hot, because when their saliva evaporates off their body, it cools them down. Stroking your cat with wet hands or a damp towel can have a similar effect.

Use Cat Sunscreen

All cats can get sunburn, but those with a light-coloured coat or thinner fur are at a higher risk. Ears and noses are the most vulnerable to sunburn, and if your cat has thinning fur anywhere else on their body, you should apply sunscreen here too.

Make sure any sunscreen you use is cat-friendly – never use one that contains salicylates or zinc oxide, as both are toxic to cats and cause your cat to become very unwell. Always use a sunscreen intended for cats – these should be titanium dioxide based. If you’re unsure, ask your vet for a recommendation.

Keeping your cat out of the sun when the sun is at its hottest (usually between 11am-3pm) will also protect them from sunburn. Remember, sunburn can occur even on cloudy days.

Look Out for Signs of Heatstroke

Heatstroke in cats can be fatal, so it’s important to be able to spot the signs so it can be quickly treated.

Cats suffering from heatstroke might pant or breath rapidly, vomit, appear weak or lethargic, collapse, excessively dribble, stumble or appear restless.

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should immediately take the cat somewhere cool and shades and apply cool (but not freezing) water to their body, and call a vet.

Wrapping Up

Following our top tips will help to keep your cat cool, hydrated and happy over the summer months. While all cats can struggle in the heat and suffer from heatstroke, cats who are overweight, elderly, suffer from health conditions, have long fur or are a brachycephalic (flat-faced) breed such as Persians or Himalayans are more at risk. Keep a close eye on your cat over the summer if they fall under any of these categories.

Discover top tips on how to keep your dog cool this summer here.

Animed Veterinary Nurse, Beth Walker