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How to Keep Cats Cool in Summer Without Air Conditioning: Vet-Reviewed Tips & Tricks

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on May 3, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

ragdoll cat lying relaxed in the garden in summer

How to Keep Cats Cool in Summer Without Air Conditioning: Vet-Reviewed Tips & Tricks


Dr. Luqman Javed Photo


Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Summer is fun since the sun is scorching. But when the humidity goes high, then it ceases to be fun. The sun affects pets, and this is not limited to cats. The heat is as uncomfortable for them as it is for human beings.

Cats don’t sweat as much as human beings do, so they groom to stay cool. They sweat through the pads of the feet and nose because this is where their eccrine sweat glands are found. But interestingly, there are other sweat glands in the skin known as apocrine sweat glands.

The work of apocrine sweat glands is to secrete an oily substance all over a cat’s coat, providing their coat with a “sheen”, forming a waterproof barrier, and limiting bacterial growth on their skin. Modified apocrine glands elsewhere on a cat’s body produce specific chemical ‘perfumes’ known as pheromones, which other cats can detect. Pheromones affect the behavior of a cat’s conspecifics in different ways.

Here are some tips you can implement:

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How Hot Is Too Hot for a Cat?

The optimum ambient temperature for most cats is 25-30°C (77-86°F). Cats can tolerate temperatures up to 38°C, but temperatures exceeding this limit are problematic for cats. It is worth noting that double- or triple-haired breeds are worse at managing higher temperatures than single-coated breeds.

Contrary to popular belief, hairless breeds such as the Sphynx, or breeds with sparse hair, such as Lykoi, are not great at tolerating the sun on a hot day. Their lack of guard hairs means they are very prone to sunburns.

Signs Your Cat Isn’t Handling the Heat Well

Cats do not do well in hot weather because they are at risk of suffering from dehydration, heat stress, and in a worst-case scenario, a heatstroke. Sweating through the pads of the feet and nose is not adequate for cats. That’s why they try to stay cool by licking themselves and allowing moisture to evaporate.

Other signs of heat stress include:
  • Your cat is struggling to breathe or breathing very rapidly
  • Your cat is looking for shady places to hide
  • Your cat is lethargic
  • Your cat is laying flat on a cool surface (such as floor tiles)

In extreme cases of heat stress, a cat may pant excessively, drool, vomit, and eventually collapse. Heat stroke should be treated as a medical emergency. If you think your cat is suffering from a heat stroke, you should IMMEDIATELY take them to a vet.

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The 11 Ways of Keeping Your Cat Cool Without Air Conditioning

1. Using a Cooling Pad

Cooling pads come in different sizes and makes. They are either made with air, water, or gel. For example, you will find a type that has a pressure-activated substance.

The substance is for keeping the cat cool by absorbing the heat from the cat’s body. When the cat is not using that pad, the gel will recharge and cool down. Ideally, you can set a cooling pad at any part of the house.

Some people leave them on the floor where cats can see them quickly. But once the cats identify the spot where the cooling pads are, they can lie on them.

However, it is very important to note that cooling pads should always be wrapped and shouldn’t come in direct contact with your cat’s skin or fur. Direct contact with a cold surface (especially ice) can lead to frostbite.

Benefits of Cooling Pads
  • They prevent overheating
  • Increases quality of life for your cat (on a hot day!)
  • Good for senior cats or other cats that struggle to thermoregulate

2. Groom Your Cat

Help your kitty untangle their coats to keep them cool. You can do this by brushing regularly over the summer. This is especially important for double or triple coated breeds, as they shed their undercoat when it’s warm, and regularly grooming them will speed up this process. Once their undercoat is shed, air can circulate more freely through their guard hairs (which form their topcoat), allowing for better thermoregulation. This can be done by a cat professional to avoid making mistakes.

When the fur is kept well groomed, cats tolerate the heat better. In addition, a well groomed cat is less prone to developing hairball issues, and grooming cats also keeps them free of matted fur (which can be very painful). They are better able to clean by themselves easily, too, as a way of cooling their bodies. So you can pamper your cats through grooming yet keeping them cool.

grooming ragdoll cat
Image Credit: Pxhere

3. Open the Windows Regularly

During summer, it gets uncomfortable, especially when the cats are in an enclosed space. The heat rises and becomes unbearable. When you open the windows, you are allowing air to flow into the house. If it is windy, the idea is good since it will put the hot air out. This is more effective if you have multiple windows open to create a cross breeze (for example: windows on the opposite cardinal directions in your house, say east and west).

You can opt to keep the windows open as long as it is necessary. That allows a fall in temperature, meaning the house will stay cool. If the heat persists even at night or at whatever time of the day, you can still opt to let the windows stay open. It’s a natural way of keeping your cats cool.

Please note that a window should only be left open if it’s cat-proofed. Cats can easily jump out of open windows, and sometimes might inadvertently jump out if something piques their interest (such as a bird). Cats in heat are prone to attempting escaping. Intact males are also prone to running away if they can hear or smell a female cat in heat nearby; an open window offers them an easy exit from your house.

4. Create a Retreat

When cats feel the heat, they will try to look for dark places in the house that feel cool. At times you may find them in the bathroom or around anywhere that feels cool. Consider creating an indoor retreat for them where they can go to rest and sleep.

The most cost efficient retreat is a lightly sprayed bath tub. Simply spray some water in your tub with a mist sprayer. Ensure the bathtub is still lined with a towel to offer your cat some grip, or they might slip and injure themselves as they enter or exit. Most cats appreciate such a cool retreat during the warmest parts of the day.

a cat lying in the bathtub
Image By: artsandra, Shutterstock

5. Use of Homemade Air Conditioning

Use bottles with iced water to keep your cats cool. Take a bottle and fill it with iced water. If you don’t have iced water, you can keep the water in a freezer for some time. Wrap the bottle in a towel and place it on the spots where your cats frequent.

When they feel the heat, they will go to those spots to relax. You can use bottles of soda that are not in use. A tip to note, though, is to avoid filling the bottles. That is because when the water freezes, it expands, and so it can crack the bottle causing water to leak from the bottle when it melts later.

6. Consider Indoor Exercises

Most cat owners love exercising their cats, which is good. But this can be dangerous when done outdoors during summer.

A good alternative is to opt for indoor exercises instead. This can also be a great bonding experience with your cat. If they must engage in exercises outdoors, you can do it in the evening. It is mostly cooler at this time of the day, but if still you feel it is scorching, set the exercises as an indoor activity instead.

cat running on exercise wheel_Shutterstock_Dmitri Ma
Image Credit: Dmitri Ma, Shutterstock

7. Keep Your Cat Hydrated

It is essential to place bowls of freshwater around the house. The cats can quench their thirst often, and this can help in cooling their bodies. Keep checking whether they have drunk the water, and if so, you can refill.

When you place those bowls strategically, that encourages your cats to drink up. During those scorching days, you don’t have to worry because your cats are well hydrated. Cats are inquisitive, and are often easily drawn to water fountains. A pet fountain is a good idea to encourage your cat to drink more.

8. Close Curtains and Blinds During the Day

Most cat owners prefer using black-out curtains. They are effective when it comes to blocking the sun because they are dark. They ensure that the house stays cool by keeping the light and heat out during summer.

But if you don’t have them, ensure you close your curtains when the heat becomes unbearable. Ensure your blinds are drawn during the day, too, to minimize the heat.

orange scottish fold resting under the curtain
Image Credit: ohmmzz, Shutterstock

9. Use of Fans

Get creative when using fans to cool the house. You can opt to place a frozen bottle around the fan or keep the fan near a window. When the fan blows the water, it cools the air. At times cats get close to the fan to enjoy the breeze.

The best fan to use is a box fan. Ensure it is placed on the floor so that the air can pass under their beds. That will help cool your cats and give them a good night’s rest.

10. Keep the Cool Floors Uncovered

Don’t cover cool floors around the house. Floors found in the bathroom or even in the kitchen are normally cool. You may find your cat rolling on those floors and wonder what is going on. It is a sign to show you they are feeling the heat.

Ensure you remove all the rugs on floors so that you can give them somewhere they can lie and cool down. However, if you notice your cats are lying on the floor in winter, consider visiting a vet. Cats that are suffering from arthritis love lying on the cold floor to cool their joints.

chocolate point ragdoll cat lying on the floor
Image Credit: atrix9, Pixabay

11. Use Chilled Bone Broth of Food Toppers

Another somewhat useful tip is to use chilled (not frozen) bone broth or cat-safe food toppers for your cat’s meals during the day. Though this wouldn’t directly lower their body temperature, your cat might be more encouraged to eat if they find their food is somewhat cool. Bone broths and food toppers also help offer some hydration to your cat.

Final Thoughts

Cats, like humans, are prone to overheating. Therefore, they might need some help keeping cool and hydrated on a hot day. The tips we have discussed above are effective and can be implemented to keep your furry friends comfortable.

Since summer can be hostile to cats just as humans, make sure you watch out for signs of heatstroke. If you notice excessive panting, vomiting, unconsciousness, fever, and drooling, you should immediately rush your cat to a veterinarian.

Featured Image Credit: absolutimages, Shutterstock

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