Cats love the summer, but they can also be susceptible to heat stress, especially when temperatures start to peak. And for those fur-parents who cannot provide an air conditioner for their pets, the risk of cats suffering heat stroke becomes higher.
Fortunately, there are a lot of alternatives available when air conditioning is not an option. Read on to learn about these options to keep your cats comfy and happy this summer.
Are cats okay without air conditioning?
Yes, cats should be fine without air conditioning, under certain conditions. Is your house well-ventilated? Do you have a comfortable climate inside your home? If you are feeling okay with the temperature levels, then your pets would likely feel the same.
Cats may be able to endure higher temperatures because they are generally predisposed to keeping their core temperature low when it is warm. Activities and playtime may be reduced when it is too hot outside, as this is their way of conserving energy, so do not be surprised if your cats are nowhere to be found. You may notice them coming out of their hiding spots in the evening when it gets cooler, ready to run and play!
Watch out, though, if the weather becomes overly hot and humid. When the temperature rises to the point of causing heat stroke in humans, then your cat may also not be able to tolerate it. Some cats may even pass out through exhaustion during a heat wave. This is when you really need to consider alternative ways to cool your pets if air conditioning is not available.
Tips to keep your cats cool
Extreme heat can be deadly for your felines! Turning the air conditioning on is probably the best way to keep your cats cool, but for some fur-parents this option may not be always available. If you live in areas with hot summer days and you need to leave your pets at home without air conditioning, do not fret; there are many alternatives to keep your cats cool and happy.
1. Hydration is critical
Fresh drinking water is essential to help your cat beat the heat. Cats may consume more water during hot weather to cool down, so make sure that their drinking bowls are always filled and replaced at least once a day. You can even add some ice cubes to their drinking bowls.
If you can, having a drinking fountain at home for your cats can also add some convenience. Or you can simply hang a cat dispenser bottle to drip water while your pet drinks.
2. Keep your blinds closed
Keep your interior climate cool by closing the blinds or curtains over your windows to ensure that the sunlight will not roast your home. Closed blinds prevent the sun from shining through your windows and protect your cat from the heat. You can also turn a fan on to maintain a cool temperature inside.
3. Proper ventilation is key
Proper ventilation and a good air circulator help maintain a comfortable temperature indoors, even without air conditioning. If you have a shaded area in the house that is not being hit by the sun, you can crack open a window there to let the air flow inside. Place a fan in front of the open window to bring in cool and fresh air – your cats will surely enjoy it.
4. Blackout curtains might do the trick
Blackout curtains help block noise and lights from the outside, and also reduce the energy usage on your HVAC system. They are 99% efficient in terms of keeping out the outside heat during summer, while effectively trapping heat indoors during winter. Moreover, these curtains come in different colors to suit your interior, so no need to worry if you are a little finicky about your home decor.
5. Invest in cooling mats
Cooling mats may give you a helping hand to protect your fur-babies from heat exhaustion. And, let me assure you, cats love them! Place the cooling mats on the floor and watch your felines make it their favorite cool spot at midday. Cooling mats may not totally save your cat from heat stress, but they are a great addition to ensure your cats are happy and comfortable without hurting your pocket.
6. Wipe them down
Felines generally hate being wet, but if the summer weather is too much to bear, a moistened cloth or towel should help to soothe your cat. This method works very well, especially when a cat is already starting to overheat.
Simply grab the damp cloth and wipe gently from the head down the back. You can also add an ice pack beneath the towel to achieve a cooler effect. However, do not use water with ice to dampen the towel as this can be too cold and might cause shock.
7. Try cool treats
Icy treats are a great way to give your cats some extra help keeping cool. While your feline fur-baby cannot share your ice popsicle, you can definitely create different versions of frozen treats they will love. You can turn their favorite canned foods, mashed bananas, carrot puree, or wet tuna into cat pops. So go ahead and be creative!
8. Limit the playtime
Reserve playtime for the evening or early morning when the temperature is cooler. Keep in mind that activities and exercise can increase your cat’s core temperature, so rather let your cat find a cool area to relax while the sun is shining outside.
9. Grooming goes a long way
Matted fur is not only unsightly, but can also make your feline feel uncomfortable on hot days. Mats can trap heat, moisture, and dirt. The best way to keep your cat cool and happy is to prevent this from happening in the first place.
Regular grooming and brushing goes a long way in maintaining your cat’s fur and keeping them comfortable. A few sessions every week should keep them cool and tangle-free, while also helping you build a stronger bond with your feline friend.
How to tell if your cat is overheating
Unlike our feline pals, sweating helps us cool down and maintain our body temperature at an optimal level. This is because a large portion of our skin is made up of sweat glands.
Cats, on the other hand, do not have sweat glands throughout their body like we do. They can only sweat through their paws, which is quite a small surface area. So, instead of sweating, cats regulate their body temperature in different ways when the temperature rises. Their muscle movements are more efficient than humans’ so they do not generate a lot of body heat. This means they do not need so many sweat glands to cool down.
Do not be alarmed if your cat feels warm to the touch. Felines normally have higher body temperatures, between 100.4°F and 102.5°F – equivalent to a fever in humans! If they are happy, playful, and eating well, there is generally nothing to worry about.
However, anything that goes beyond this range may be dangerous. Very hot and humid periods cause your cat’s body temperature to rise, and without your intervention your cat may develop heat exhaustion, medically known as hyperthermia. As the cat’s body temperature continues to elevate, the internal organs begin to shut down and cause your cat to collapse or, worse, slip into a coma.
Stay vigilant for signs of heat stress
Exhaustion or heat stroke is a medical emergency. Take your pet to the nearest veterinary clinic or hospital if they show any of these signs:
- Unsteadiness or loss of balance
- Rapid breathing or panting
- Sweating through the foot pads
- Body temperature over 105°F
Wrapping it up
Elevated temperatures in summer can be fatal for cats. This is because they don’t sweat like humans do, and this limits their ability to cool themselves. The risk of heat stress is even higher if air conditioning is not available.
Fortunately, there are inexpensive ways you can help keep your felines somewhat chilled. Try these methods at home to protect your cat from heat exhaustion next summer.
Image: istockphoto.com / Irina Shatilova