Indoor Cats and Hot Weather

A lot of people assume that cats will always love heat and soak up as much sun as they can. This isn’t true. Although cats have come from the desert, there is still an upper limit to how much heat and sun they can safely tolerate.  

If you have an outdoor cat, you should consider keeping them indoors in very hot weather. You will be able to keep a better eye on them for signs of heatstroke and give them constant access to fresh water. Pavements can become too hot for your cat’s bare feet to walk on during they day so there is also a chance of them becoming trapped outside in very hot weather.

How hot is too hot for indoor cats?

Generally, indoor cats will be comfortable in temperature up to 80 °F (26.5 °C). Although cats come from the desert, they have grown to deal with heat by avoiding it. Any cats that you have raised where you live will also be acclimatised to the regular temperature so heat waves can be very uncomfortable for them. There is no set number that is “too hot” for your cat where they will instantly start struggling. They will become more uncomfortable and more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke as the temperature goes up.

A lot of additional factors affect how “hot” a temperature feels. Things like direct sunlight, higher humidity, and a lack of air flow can all make lower temperatures more uncomfortable for cats. Cats’ body temperatures are only a couple of degrees higher than ours. If it feels too hot indoors for you it is probably also too hot for your cat. If your cat’s internal body temperature goes above 105 °F (40.5 °C) they can suffer from heat stroke.

How do I know if my indoor cat is too hot?

Cats don’t have many ways to deal with the heat. Most of their methods involve using their body moisture to remove heat through evaporation.

Unlike us, they can only sweat through their paw pads. If your cat is too hot you may notice them leaving behind wet paw prints on hard surfaces. You can also try feeling their paw pads while they are resting to see if they are moist. If your cat is sweating through its paw pads it may also pant to remove excess heat. It isn’t always so obvious when a cat is panting as their mouths are so small. Keep an eye on your cat in excessively hot weather to see if they hang their mouth open and breathe heavily. Due to this increased loss of moisture, cats will drink more water in the heat.

What to look out for when the weather is too hot for your cat

If your cat goes unconscious or obviously struggling when it is hot, they may be suffering from a heat stroke. Cool them down with a wet rag and take them to the vet immediately. To stop this from happening, look for signs that your cat is struggling in the heat and bring them to safety. Heat stroke is very dangerous for cats and can lead to brain damage and death. Signs to look out for incldue

  • Sweating throgh paw pads
  • Panting
  • Searching for cooler spaces
  • Throwing up
  • Tiredness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizzyness

How do indoor cats keep cool in hot weather?

Cats will groom themselves to reduce their body temperature. The moisture from their saliva will coat their fur bring down their body heat through evaporation. Grooming is very normal behaviour for cats in any temperature but they will go through longer and more frequent sessions.

Cats also understand that they can limit their body temperature by resting and avoiding excessive movement. They may be less playful than normal and not do their usual night-time zoomies. However, sudden changes in behaviour like this can also be a sign of serious medical conditions causing your cat pain. If you have concerns about your cat’s lack of interest in any stimuli you should take them to see a vet.

Aside from this, cats will do the obvious thing and seek cooler areas to cool down. This will mean avoiding sunny areas and maybe spreading their body out on cool surfaces like tiled flooring. In very hot weather, this may not be enough for your cat

How do I keep my cat cool during the summer indoors?

By using air conditioning

If you have air conditioning, you should use it moderately to bring the temperature down to something more comfortable. A lot of us like to use air conditioning on full power for as long as possible to stay cool in hot weather but your cat will probably not appreciate this. In fact, cold temperatures can be just as dangerous as hot temperatures for cats. You should make sure that your cat has a space to stay outside of the direct air flow of your air conditioning or fans. Cats will normally avoid direct streams of cold as they find it uncomfortable and annoying. Cats can also suffer from hypothermia if they become too cold.

By introducing a flow of air

If you don’t have an air conditioning unit in your house, you can try to introduce some air flow through the rooms where your cat is by opening windows or doors. If your cat is at risk of escaping, you can just keep them open slightly so your cat can’t fit through. You could also consider collaring your indoor cat to give them an extra layer of protection if they do escape. Even a small flow of air will help keep your cat stay a little cooler in a hot room.

Give your cat places to hide out of the sun

Make sure that your cat has spaces to retreat to away from the hottest parts of the house. Areas that have a lot of sunlight will gradually heat up through the day. Make sure that they can always find a cooler part of the house to stay in where they have a space to rest. You will need to be particularly careful if you are gone during the middle of the day to make sure that your house is it a comfortable and safe temperature for your cat.

Cooling mats and tiles

Cat cooling mats are a popular inexpensive and easy to use product to help your at stay comfortable in the heat and after surgeries. They are normally made of gel which you cool down in your fridge or freezer before passing them on to your cat. If you don’t want to spend the money on this or are worried if your cat has pica, even just letting your cat lounge about on the cool tiling of a bathroom or kitchen may give them some relief in very hot weather.

Avoiding too much movement

We normally suggest for indoor cats to get as much play as possible. However, if your home is too hot for your cat, running about will make things even worse for them. Try to play with them more during cooler periods of the day in the early morning and at night. Pay attention to signs showing that they are starting to get too hot. Panting may be particularly obvious during play.