Cats are warm-blooded creatures, as most of us probably know. They also love lying in the warmth of the sun. It is never a surprise to see your cat basking belly-up in the sunlight or resting in a sunny spot near the window as they gaze at the birds outside.
Unfortunately, cats can also be prone to heat exhaustion, and with summer fast approaching, many cat parents are wondering – “should I leave the air conditioning on for my cat?”
In a nutshell, leaving the air conditioning on while you are at work might be quite expensive. However, depending on your living space, your cat may benefit from the help of an air conditioner during extremely hot weather conditions. We will explain this in more detail below, so read on!
How temperatures can impact your cat’s health
Gone are the days when our furry friends were treated as outdoor animals. In most cases, cats are treated like family members – they are provided with a comfy bed indoors, they are free to cuddle and sit beside their human companions, they can freely roam around the house as if it is their own, and many other things!
But, while domesticated cats might still have some traits inherited from their wild ancestors, it does not mean they are equipped with the same toughness for survival. They are not as heat-tolerant as their wild cat cousins, who can endure extreme temperatures outdoors. Hence, leaving them in hot and humid places can be risky for their health.
Just like dogs, cats have unique ways of regulating their body temperature, such as sweating through their paws, licking their fur, and panting. However, harsh weather conditions might make these survival tactics less effective. During a particularly hot summer season, most cats might face the risk of heat exhaustion that could shut down their internal organs and lead to an untimely demise. For this reason, many cat parents consider whether leaving their air conditioning units on would be beneficial for their furry friends.
We get it – we all want our furry family members to stay comfortable and content all the time. But there are both pros and cons to leaving your air conditioning on non-stop, especially if you are not at home.
As a general rule, cats should never be left unsupervised with heating or cooling systems switched on. Thus, it is really worth your time to weigh up the benefits as well as the risks before leaving your air conditioning on while you are away.
First of all, consider factors like how hot your home gets during the summertime. If your indoor climate makes you sweaty and uncomfortable without the air conditioning, then your furry companions will likely feel the same (or worse). The same is true if your home gets too cold during wintertime. If your house has poor insulation, your four-legged friends will probably need the help of some devices to keep them comfortable.
It is also worth noting that their health conditions and their breed, too! For example, senior cats might not do well with extreme temperature changes in their environment. And certain cat breeds, such as Persians, are prone to developing breathing issues and should therefore be kept at a comfortable temperature indoors.
Do cats feel cold with air conditioning?
Cats are covered with lustrous fur to protect them from extreme heat and cold. Nonetheless, they can get chilly, too. Air conditioning units that are set at very low temperatures can be uncomfortable and stressful for your cat. As cat parents, it is our responsibility to keep our fur babies comfortable and safe, which is why it is not generally a good idea to leave your cat alone with the air conditioning running.
That said, there are instances when leaving the air conditioning on can be beneficial for your feline friend. For example, if you live in an area with a hot climate and your cat does not tolerate hot temperatures due to a health condition, then leaving the air conditioning on will be the better option. Make sure, though, that the temperature is set to a comfortable level – it should not be too hot or too cold for them!
Should I leave the air conditioning on for my cat?
Cats are adept at finding cool places to rest! At times, you might find them lying in the bathtub or in porcelain sinks, on the tiled floor of the bathroom, above your refrigerator, or near an open window. Cats also cool down by panting to help regulate their body temperature. So, would this mean that they are fine without the air conditioning?
If your cat is perfectly healthy and your home has sufficient insulation, then turning the air conditioner off while you are away might be more cost-effective and eco-friendly. But again, try to put yourself in your cat’s situation – would they feel much better with the air conditioning on?
Unlike humans, cats cannot adjust the air conditioning unit to achieve a temperature to their liking. This makes it very important to determine your pet’s temperature preferences, as well as whether turning on the air conditioning is a good idea in the first place. Remember that overheating can be a serious health risk for cats, so if you think your home becomes an oven during the summertime, it might be best to leave the air conditioning on!
Factors to consider
Let us dig into some of the important factors to consider before turning your air conditioning up while you are not at home:
1. How quickly your home heats up
As mentioned, your indoor climate can be influenced by the area in which you live, as well as how well-insulated your house is. If you are not sure whether your furry companion will be perfectly fine without the air conditioning, try turning the unit off while you are at home. If you end up sweaty and uncomfortable, then Fluffy would definitely feel the same. If it is too hot, cats will face a higher risk of heat stroke.
2. How long or thick your cat’s fur is
Yes, that soft, silky fur you love to stroke has more important functions than you might know. It is not only there to make your cat look beautiful, but also to protect them from extreme temperatures in their environment. Fur length and texture can also influence what external temperatures they can tolerate. Hence, cats with thicker and longer hair are more likely to need the air conditioning than kitties with shorter hair, especially during the hot season.
3. Your cat’s overall health
Your cat’s overall health should be taken into account when it comes to setting your home temperature while you are away. For example, older cats or cats with breathing issues and certain infections will likely benefit from having the air conditioner turned on. If you are unsure, you can consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate temperature settings to keep your fur baby comfortable.
At what temperature do cats need air conditioning?
While there is no magic temperature that can keep all cats comfortable, it is generally recommended to maintain an indoor temperature between 75 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit for your cats. Anything below or above these settings might cause them discomfort and stress.
That said, there are other several factors you need to consider when setting your home temperature. For example, larger and heavier cats, or those with long, thick fur, might benefit more from temperatures in the low 70s. Senior cats with arthritis and other health issues will be more sensitive to cooler temperatures, so it is best to keep their environment slightly warmer – preferably between 75 and 80.
Tips to help your cat stay cool
Just like humans, extreme heat during the summertime can be bothersome and uncomfortable for cats! But, thankfully, there are a few ways to help your furry companions combat the sudden rise in temperature.
Here are some tips you can follow to ensure Fluffy stays cool while you are away:
- Provide a bowl of fresh drinking water with ice cubes.
- Provide cat-friendly ice cube treats or lollies.
- Consider installing thermal curtains to help block the heat (or cold) from outside.
- Place a cooling mat on your cat’s resting spot.
- Make sure that your home has enough air flow.
- Provide your cat with a cool hiding spot, such as a cardboard box, where they can retreat during the hot weather.
- Hire a pet sitter to check on your cat while you are not home.
Hotter days can have detrimental effects on your cat. The rising temperatures will not only contribute to stress and discomfort for your feline friend, but could potentially put them at risk of heat stroke. Hence, the pros of turning on the air conditioning may outweigh the cons when the weather gets really hot, to provide your pet some relief. This might mean spending a few extra dollars on your monthly energy bill, but it will be worth it since you will be paying for your cat’s health and safety!
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