A cat relaxes on a sunny windowsill.

Keeping Cats Cool

The dog days of summer can be rough on cats. Though their coats help to regulate body temperature, they’re at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to keeping cool. We’ve got a broad network of sweat glands to cool us down and stave off conditions like heat stroke. Cats, however, have to make do with a comparatively scant number, localized mostly in their paws. They can’t strip down to lighter clothing either!

There are four different types of heat-related illnesses that pets and pet parents can experience. Here they are, listed from the least to most severe:

  1. Heat Stress: Body temperature remains normal, clinical signs and discomfort are relatively mild.
  2. Heat Cramps: Body temperature is still normal, but physiological changes may begin with difficulty walking or a slight limp.
  3. Heat Exhaustion: Body temperature may be normal, slightly elevated, or slightly decreased. Clinical symptoms have become more severe, including cramps, weakness, and anxiety. In severe cases, loss of consciousness may occur.
  4. Heat Stroke: The most severe type of heat-related health condition, heat stroke can have deadly consequences. There are two forms: exertional and non-exertional. The former is more common in people than in pets, most often seen in elite athletes. Though certain animals like racehorses and Greyhounds may suffer from exertional heatstroke, animals are more likely to experience the non-exertional variety as a result of environmental factors like high temperatures.

Keeping Your Cat Cool

Even if you’ve got central air conditioning and plenty of shady space, you may need to take some extra precautions to ensure your cat doesn’t overheat in summer weather.

Signs Your Cat Is Overheating

Keep an eye out for these telltale signs of heat-related illness, especially when the mercury is rising.

Any cat can experience negative reactions to heat, but these feline populations may be more vulnerable:

Watch these cats closely for signs of trouble and get ready to intervene or call your veterinarian if necessary.