6 min read

Summer Safety Tips for Keeping Your Cat Cool

wellness-summer-safety-tips-to-keep-your-cat-cool-hero-image

By Emily Gantt

Published: 06/24/2022, edited: 06/28/2022

Reviewed by a licensed veterinary professional: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Avoid expensive vet visits

Get peace of mind from the comfort of your home

Chat with a veterinary professional directly in the Wag! app

Return with more questions any time, any day

Get Vet Chat

Overview

Warm weather brings lots of adventure opportunities for our pets, but the heat index and UV rays carry their share of risks too. Sunburn, dehydration, and heatstroke are just a few of the dangers that cats can face while exploring our backyards or even when inside the home.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep your pack safe from heat- and sun-related illness. Read on for all the safety tips you need to ensure this is the best summer yet for your fur-babies!


Tips for keeping cats safe during the summer months

From preventing dehydration to ensuring your cat doesn’t get lost, here are some tips to keep cats cool, hydrated, and healthy during the dog days of summer.

tabby and white cat drinking water from a blue automatic cat water bowl

Offer access to fresh, cool water at all times

It may seem like a no-brainer to make sure your cat has water while outside, but some pet parents don't realize how often they should be refilling their bowls. Just a few hours of direct sunlight can cause water to heat up to bathwater temperatures, so make sure you refill their supply every couple of hours, and add some ice cubes to prolong freshness.

If you're worried about Fluffy's water intake, try offering them cool, hydrating treats like frozen broth or a yummy cat smoothie!

Related: Why is My Cat Refusing to Drink Water?


Keep your kitty indoors during the hottest part of the day

Midday is the most dangerous time for pets to explore since it's the hottest. The ideal temperature for cats is around 77 degrees, and temperatures that exceed 100 degrees are entering unsafe territory — especially in humid climates. That doesn’t mean your cat can’t enjoy the great outdoors during summer, though! Just try to limit outside time to mornings or late evenings when it’s cooler and the sun isn’t directly overhead. 

Related: Should I Let My Cat Outside?


Throw some shade

Cats need shady places to hang out and escape the summer sun — but you have to be mindful about the spaces you choose. Instead of creating shady spots on your concrete patio or wooden deck, which can heat up to dangerous temps on hot days, utilize natural surfaces like grass or dirt, which stay cooler naturally. It’s also a good idea to make your cat’s shelter in an area where they don’t have to cross hot pavement or asphalt to get to it.


Cool off your cat’s favorite hangout

Cot-style beds, towers, or even a table with an umbrella can offer respite from the hot ground. Pet stores even sell cooling beds and pads to prevent pets from getting too hot during naptime.

If you don't want to shell out for new bedding, wrap an ice pack in a kitchen towel or thin blanket and place it in your cat's usual resting spot — instant cooling pad!


Keep Fluffy off hot pavement during outings

Hot pavement is a leading cause of footpad injuries in cats and dogs in the summer. Asphalt heats up more quickly than other surfaces and can be as much as 60 degrees hotter than the air temperature!

Hot pavement can cause serious burns and even destroy the tissue on your pet’s paw pads. Remember, if you can’t stand barefoot on a surface for 10 seconds, it’s much too hot for your pet to be walking on — something to keep in mind if your cat enjoys on-leash walks.


Keep your cat groomed

Pet parents often wonder if they should groom their cats in the summer — and the answer is yes! Experts recommend regular brushing to remove mats and dead fur. Occasional trims will also remove and prevent mats and help increase airflow to the cat’s skin.

Professionals say pet parents should reserve shaving for specific circumstances, like if the fur is contributing to a medical condition or the cat can no longer groom themselves.


black and white cat stepping through a kitty door

Install a kitty door

Giving your cat indoor access during the summer could save their life if they start to overheat. Like humans, cats will naturally gravitate to cooler areas when they start getting too hot. Installing a kitty door offers an easy way for your cat to retreat to safety, even when you aren’t home to let them come and go as they please.   


Never leave your cat in a hot car

Hot cars are one of the biggest safety risks for pets during the summer months. Within minutes, temperatures inside a car can soar well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, even if the temperature outside is relatively mild. Even leaving the windows partially open doesn't reduce the high temperatures inside.

If you suspect you'll need to leave your pet in the car at any given time during an outing, it's best just to leave them at home. For extra peace of mind, book a Drop-In with Wag! to keep tabs on your pets right from your smartphone.


Use caution when locking up garages and outbuildings

Hot garages and outbuildings are dangerous places to be in the heat of the day. Curious cattos may go into sheds to explore or escape the hot sun and wind up locked in. When shutting outbuildings, make sure to call out to your outdoor pets and get a visual on them before locking up. 


Try alternative cooling methods if your house doesn’t have AC

When it comes to summer safety tips, most people know the importance of keeping outdoor cats cool. But what about house cats who don’t have the luxury of AC? Houses can heat up very quickly in the summer and can even get hotter than the air outside. Here are some things you can try if your home doesn’t have AC:  

  • DIY a cooler fan   
  • Use box fans near open windows to help pull hot air out
  • Open windows strategically and use fans to pull the hot air out
  • Buy a window AC unit     
  • Keep blinds and curtains closed during the day


Protect your fur-baby's skin

Many pet parents don’t realize that their pets need sunblock just like we do. You may not be able to see sunburns or skin damage on darker or long-haired cats, but it can happen. Photosensitive cats and those with light-colored, thin, or no hair are especially at risk and can even develop skin cancer later in life from sun damage.

For this reason, we suggest applying pet-safe sunscreen before your cat goes out to play. We do not need to apply to areas covered by fur but can apply it on ear tips and noses. When shopping for a pet-safe sunscreen, choose a brand that protects against UVA and UVB rays, has an SPF of at least 15, and does not contain the following chemicals:

  • Titanium dioxide
  • Zinc oxide
  • Para-amino benzoic acid
  • Ethanol alcohol
  • Homosalate
  • Octyl salicylate
  • Ethylhexyl salicylate
  • Asprin

Even if you use sunscreen on your cat, you should still check them regularly for sunburn and skin damage. Watch for scabs, blisters, and cracked, itchy, or scaly skin, which are all signs of sunburn or skin damage. Symptoms may be more pronounced on areas with sparse or light-colored fur like the ears and nose. If your cat experiences these symptoms, see a vet ASAP. Sun damage can make cats more susceptible to solar dermatitis, infections, and cancer.

Related: 5 Vet-approved Sunscreens for Cats and Dogs


Know the signs of overheating and how to respond to them

Heatstroke can go from mild to deadly very quickly. That’s why pet parents must know how to identify and respond to the symptoms of heat-related illnesses. Here’s what to watch out for:      


What to do if your cat is exhibiting the signs of heatstroke

Time is of the essence when you’re dealing with a pet suffering from heatstroke. Here’s what to do if your cat experiences one or more of the symptoms above:  

  1. Bring your cat inside immediately.     
  2. Cool them down gradually by placing them on a cool, damp sheet.
  3. Place a bag of ice wrapped in a tea towel on the bottoms of their feet.
  4. Offer cool water for them to drink if they are able to do so.
  5. Get to a vet ASAP. Heatstroke can cause pets to go into shock and organ failure, so getting them to treatment quickly is imperative.
  6. Turn your car’s AC on full blast when transporting your cat. Drive safely, but remember, time is of the essence.

The vet will administer fluids and meds, and use external cooling techniques to bring their temperature down. After stabilizing the animal, the vet will run bloodwork and other diagnostics to ensure there isn't any organ damage and order further treatment as needed.

If no organ damage is present, the vet will likely want to monitor them for a few days. With prompt treatment, many cats can make a full recovery from heatstroke, which is why you must act swiftly if you notice your cat is overheating.


Recap

  • Hot weather doesn’t mean your kitty can’t have outdoor time — you just have to be mindful about it.

  • Keep Fluffy inside during the hottest part of the day, and offer them plenty of cool spaces to escape the sun when they're outside.

  • Installing a pet door and equipping your cat with a GPS tracker can help you give your cat the freedom to roam while also keeping them safe.

  • Lastly, be on the lookout for the symptoms of heatstroke and seek treatment immediately if you see them.

Got more questions about how you can keep your cat cool during the hottest months of the year? Chat with a veterinary professional today to get the lowdown on summer safety and more.


Need vet advice?
Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

2,708 satisfied customers

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.