It’s slowly getting warmer outside again and summer is not far away – so some of you will wonder: Can cats keep themselves cool? And how do I keep my cat cool in summer without AC? After all, you want to avoid your cat getting heat stroke. Stay tuned for some suggestions!
- Make sure there is shade
If your cat can go out onto a balcony, you should make sure that there is enough shade so that he doesn’t have to stay in the blazing sun. Our own balcony only gets sunshine in the morning, so once the sun is high in the sky, there’s always shade for our cats to hide in. There is also a table and chairs under which our cats can hide, and we have a small apple tree in a pot. In summer, large tomato plants also provide some shade.
If your balcony is without shade, consider putting up a big potted plant or tree for some shade. Alternatively, you can create shade by putting up a parasol, or a piece of cloth on a clothesline.
You can certainly also improvise with flower pots or create a shady spot out of an old cardboard box. Our cats love cardboard boxes!
Don’t lock your cats out on the balcony, but always keep the balcony door open so that they can retreat back into the flat if it gets too hot for them.
- Provide a safe cool space
Cats should always have a place to retreat to where they can have some peace and quiet. In summer, it’s especially important that this place is cool. Do you have a room that lets you block out the sun with blinds? If not, thick curtains can also help keep the room cool. Similarly, a cooler storage room will also help your cat stay comfortable in summer.
Our cat Garrus enjoys being in the bathroom in summer – there are tiles there that are reasonably cool, but he also likes to lie down in the bathtub, which is also a pleasantly cool place in summer.
If you always keep the door to the bathroom closed, consider having it open in summer so your cats can seek out the bathtub or cool tiles if they get uncomfortably hot.
- Provide plenty of fresh water
Water is important for cats in both summer and winter, but they may want to drink more in summer – just like their owners. Their water bowl should always be clean and the water fresh. You don’t want any algae in there! Rinse off the water bowl every time you feed your cat and supply fill it up again. Changing the water twice a day will suffice.
If you do have a balcony your cats like to stay on in summer, it certainly won’t hurt to put an extra water bowl there.
- Give your cats cat milk
We always give our cats wet food anyway, so they generally take in a lot of liquid. You can also pour a little extra water over the food. Another option is to give your cats cat milk to drink. Cat milk is not like regular cow milk, but it’s lactose free (since cats are lactose intolerant) and usually enriched with vitamins. Our cats love cat milk and will drink it to the last drop, so this is a great way to make sure they get enough liquid.
You should bear in mind, however, that cat milk also has a lot of calories. So if you give it to your cat to drink, reduce the amount of food accordingly to make sure your can’t won’t become obese.
- Provide drinking fountains
If you feed dry food and your cat is generally lazy about drinking, set up a drinking fountain for your cats. You can buy these at any pet shop or on Amazon*. The idea here is that splashing water is a lot more appealing than water in a bowl would be, so it will make your cat drink more.
- Stroke your cat with a wet cloth
One tip I read in the first hot summer with our cats was to wet them with a damp cloth. Of course I had to try this out immediately! My boys found it a strange sensation and I don’t think they really liked it – but they let me do it nevertheless. It’s definitely worth a try, maybe there are cats who find it totally enjoyable.
- Offer your cats water with ice cubes
If you have a balcony or other outside space, you can also put a container of water on it and add some ice cubes. If necessary, you can also simply put a few ice cubes in your cat’s food bowl, although the danger here is that the cat will take them out of the bowl and shoot them around the house. My cats played with it a bit and licked it, but admittedly lost interest quite quickly. Try it out, it’s not a big effort. You can certainly also try ice cubes made of cat milk, which will certainly manage to hold your cats’ attention for longer.
- Give your cats cooling mats
Cooling mats for cats are mats with a gel inside that you can put in the freezer or refrigerator. Maybe some of you know this as a way to cool a black eye or other pain. The gel gets cold without freezing solid, and when you take the mat out of the freezer, it is pleasantly cold. If the cat gets too hot, it can lie down on a cool mat and cool down.
There are now even self-cooling mats like this one*, which are supposed to offer a cool place to lie down without electricity or a fridge. As I understand it, they simply store hardly any heat and thus stay cool for longer, similar to tiles.
Cooling mats are also easy to make yourself by wetting a cloth or towel and putting it in the freezer – although the towel will be damp when it thaws, so this is more for tiles or the balcony.
- Make sure you brush your cat
Just as humans sometimes like to get a summer haircut, it is also helpful for cats if their coat is a little thinner in summer. Their change of coat is a natural thing, but it helps to brush your cats diligently in the summer to get rid of any loose hair quickly.
My cats love to be brushed in any season, and it’s always a good way to strengthen your relationship with your four-legged friend. Helping to prevent your cat’s overheating in summer is an added bonus. We have something called a slicker brush* and our cats love it, but there are several different brushes on the market. Just try one and see if your cats like it.
What to do if your cat is panting or breathing heavily?
If you find your cat panting and apathetic in the summer, it’s probably already too late to try to cool him down. In that case, the only thing that can help is a visit to the vet as soon as possible. So it’s better not to let it get that far! Observe your cat in summer and give him the opportunity to keep his body temperature under control by using the above methods.