We are approaching the hottest days of summer in most places. Our pets need to be a central focus during the warmer months because dogs and cats are extremely susceptible to heat exhaustion. To keep your kitty safe, be sure you know the signs of heat exhaustion and follow our tips for how to keep cats cool in the summer without AC.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion in Cats
Summer fun can be quickly ruined by heat exhaustion, so it’s important to keep an eye on your cat when the temperatures rise. Even indoor cats can be susceptible to heat exhaustion, so know these common signs of heat stress in cats:
- Changes in gum color
- Extreme restlessness or lethargy
- Vocal complaints
- Wet paw prints
Panting Might Be an Early Sign of Heat Stress in Cats
A cat that is experiencing a hot environment will likely pant. While panting is not necessarily a sign that your cat is experiencing dangerous levels of heat discomfort – a cat who has recently participated in strenuous exercise might pant for a little while – it’s still a behavior to be aware of because panting is less common in cats than it is in dogs. Panting could simply mean your cat is trying to cool off and they’ll be successful – but if the panting doesn’t achieve this goal, they might overheat.
Changes in Gum Color Can Indicate Heat Stroke
Another common sign of heat stress in cats could be changing gum color. A cat who is experiencing serious heat stress might have gray or bright red gums. Your cat’s gums should be firm and pink at all times – any deviation from this could mean heat stroke, another illness, or dental problems. If your cat is in a hot environment and you notice a change in gum color, you need to take immediate action to cool them off and ensure they are properly hydrated.
A Cat That Is Overheating Might Be Restless or Lethargic
Heat exhaustion can have different impacts on a cat’s behavior. It might cause them to be restless, moving around constantly as they try to achieve a more comfortable internal temperature. Or, if their heat stroke is more severe, they might become lethargic and stay in the same position, not even raising their head or responding to your voice. Be on the lookout for both behaviors as a sign of heat exhaustion in cats.
An Uncomfortably Hot Cat Will Probably Complain
While cats are masters of disguising their pain, they can also be prima donnas about their comfort – which is a good thing in the case of heat stress. A cat that is uncomfortably hot will probably communicate that discomfort to you with vocalizing and loud meowing. Sometimes it can be hard to identify exactly what your feline friend is complaining about, but if you’re in a hot environment with no AC, it could be discomfort from the temperature.
Cats Sweat from Their Paw Pads
Another sign of heat stress in cats is wet paws. A cat’s sweat glands are concentrated on their paw pads, so if they are leaving wet paw prints in the house, it means they are working overtime to reduce their internal body temperature. Paw sweating also means your cat is losing fluids, so you’ll need to make a concerted effort to increase your pet’s hydration. (If you’re working to increase your cat’s daily hydration, you might consider incorporating wet cat food into your pet’s daily diet.)
How to Keep Cats Cool in the Summer Without AC
Especially if you don’t have air conditioning, you’ll need to be proactive about keeping your kitty friend comfortable in the hotter months. Here are some tips for how to keep cats cool in the summer without AC:
- Maintain a consistent grooming schedule
- Avoid stagnant air in the cat’s living area
- Change out your cat’s water regularly and offer lots of bowls
- Provide shade and consider removing rugs
- Pat your cat with a damp washcloth
Proper Grooming Can Help Your Cat Regulate Temperature
A cat with a properly groomed coat will have a much easier time maintaining a healthy body temperature, even when it’s hot outside. You may need to brush your cat more regularly during the summer to keep their coat from matting and ensure that their fur is loose and aerated. Don’t shave your cat without consulting your veterinarian – often, this can end up disrupting your cat’s natural cooling abilities.
Keep Air Moving Throughout the Home
Even if you don’t have an air conditioner in your home, it’s important to keep air moving and avoid stagnant, still heat. Invest in a portable fan that you can move around the house to keep the air flowing wherever your cat spends time. Likewise, you might consider lifting your cat’s bed. Many cat owners will purchase a small, table-like plastic device with slats – like a small bed frame – that allows air to move beneath your cat’s sleeping area and create more ventilation.
Hydration Is Crucial to Keeping Your Cat Cool
One of the primary risks of heat exhaustion is dehydration. Cats are picky, so it’s important that they not only have access to water, but they have access to cool, fresh water. If your cat roams freely in your home, you should place water bowls in different locations to encourage them to stay hydrated. This water needs to be changed out regularly – even a few times a day if it’s especially hot.
Provide Plenty of Shade and Cool Surfaces for Your Cat
Cats will seek out dark, cool spaces when it’s hot. They will do their best to regulate their own internal temperature, so providing them with safe options is the best way to keep cats cool in the summer without AC. Surfaces like tile or laminate flooring tend to stay cool for longer, so you might consider pulling up some of your rugs to offer your cat a cooling surface to lie down on. Keeping your blinds or curtains pulled during the heat of the day can also help to reduce the temperature in your home, even if you don’t have air conditioning.
A Cat Pool Might Not Work, but Try a Damp Washcloth
While most cats are unlikely to dive enthusiastically into a plastic baby pool in the yard (the way a Golden Retriever might), there are other ways to use water to cool them down. Some pet parents have had success with using a damp washcloth or paper towel to stroke and pat their cat. Most cats who enjoy a good petting session won’t notice the use of the slightly wet material, and applying a little cool water to their coat can help reduce their internal body temperature.
Monitor Your Cat’s Health Closely During the Summer
If you’re wondering how to keep cats cool in the summer without AC, you’re already paying close attention to your cat’s temperature needs, which means you’re ahead of the game. Being prepared is a huge part of ensuring your cat’s safety and health in all matters, including temperature regulation. If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, use these tips and strategies to ensure your pet isn’t at risk for heat exhaustion and they can enjoy the summer with you.