With summer days sometimes reaching temperatures in the 90s and even 100s, it's essential to know how to keep outdoor cats cool in hot weather. You can protect the health of your outside kitty or the stray or feral cats in your neighborhood by using these helpful tips as the weather warms up.
Ways to Help an Outdoor Cat Stay Cool
Cats are highly intelligent, and they can stay cool on their own if you give them the proper resources. Here are just a few ways to help your cat escape the heat:
- Place a comfortable bed in a shaded area, such as a porch or under some low lying shrubs.
- Put out two bowls of fresh water. One bowl should be fresh and cool, and the other frozen. The frozen bowl will melt slowly and provide cool water later in the day.
- Throw ice cubes into a water bowl to cool it down and draw the interest of your cat. This may encourage her to drink more liquid.
- When temperatures reach over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you should refill the bowls every couple of hours.
- Brush your cat daily to allow the air to move freely through her fur, particularly if your cat has long hair.
- Do not tie or confine your cat to an area with asphalt or concrete because these surfaces really hold the heat on a sunny day.
- Wrap a towel around a bag of frozen peas and place it in her outdoor bed so she can lie on it to cool off.
- Take a damp cloth and wipe it over your cat. If your cat will tolerate water, wet her with a spray bottle. Most cats will tolerate the damp cloth better.
- Hold a cold compress around your cat's neck to help her cool off a bit more.
Create the Ideal Shelter
Even if your cat is an outdoor cat, consider bringing her inside during the hottest part of the day, which is typically from about 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you absolutely cannot have a cat indoors due to allergies or another reason, consider getting the cat a climate controlled cat house. The house is air conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter to offer your cat a place to escape extreme cold and heat.
Signs a Cat Is Overheating
According to Dr. Foster and Smith, cats left inside vehicles on hot days are the most common heat stroke victims. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach about 104 degrees within about 15 minutes. CatHealth.com states that elderly cats, kittens and obese cats are more likely to suffer heat stroke. Signs that your cat might be overheating include:
If you suspect your cat may be overheating, take her temperature. CatHealth.com and Treaschwig Veterinary Clinic both state that a normal temperature for cats is between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your cat's temperature is above that range, take steps too cool her off. The quickest way to cool kitty down is to wet her fur. Put her in a sink or bathtub with a couple inches of room temperature water, or wet her down with a garden hose. You should then phone your veterinarian for further instructions. The vet may want to see your cat, depending upon how high her temperature is and which symptoms she exhibits. A temperature of 104 degrees is serious. A temperature of 106 to 107 means your cat is overheating in a dangerous way that may cause permanent damage or even death.
Watch Your Cat Carefully
If you must leave your cat outdoors during the sizzling days of summer, keep a close watch on her. By spotting the signs of an impending heat stroke, you can take steps to minimize the damage. Do your best to find or create a cool place for your cat to rest during the hottest times, and keep him or her hydrated. With a little planning and knowledge, your cat will make it through summer as healthy as when the season started.