Because cats have a higher body temperature than humans, they are generally more relaxed when they are warm. Cats even adjust their posture to keep the heat in as much as possible. Therefore, it is important to keep an eye on the temperature, especially in the summer, as cats can overheat when it is too hot.
The ideal body temperature for cats is 100.0 °F (37.8 °C). However, a little more or less is normal, especially for long-haired breeds. This is because extra fur means more body heat. Body temperature should be between 98.0 and 102.0 °F (36.7 and 38.9 °C). However, a temperature of 104 °F (40 °C) or more will cause hyperthermia or heat stroke. Help your cat cool down before it reaches this stage.
Cats are born sunbathers, so keep an eye on your cat during the summer months.
Many cats jump at the opportunity to bask in the heat. A little time in the sun is fine, but you should be able to tell when your cat is overheating.
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What Body Temperature Do Cats Have?
Cats are most comfortable at a body temperature of 100.0 °F (37.8 °C). Of course, a cat’s temperature varies; in healthy cats, it ranges from 98.0 to 102.0 °F (36.7 to 38.9 °C).
During sleep, a cat’s body temperature cools. It generally maintains its body temperature by eating.
Cats love the sun and find warmer climes relaxing. However, this also means that a cat can overheat without realizing it until it’s too late.
If your cat falls asleep in direct sunlight, it can put its health at risk.
What Ambient Temperature Do Cats Like?
Ambient temperature is critical to a cat’s well-being. Cats can’t take off their fur the way we take off our clothes.
So you need to make sure the air around your cat is not too hot and stuffy.
Long-haired cats are comfortable in cooler temperatures. Their long, thick fur keeps them warm. Even though these breeds shed in the summer, they are naturally warmer than their short-haired counterparts.
It is more difficult for short-haired cats to stay warm in cooler climates. This means they prefer a warmer ambient temperature.
These cats also spend more time lolling around in the sun during the summer. However, they are just as likely to overheat.
A room temperature between 73 and 79 °F (23 and 26 °C) is the ideal temperature for a cat.
Long-haired breeds tend to prefer the lower end of the spectrum. Older or short-haired cats can tolerate slightly warmer air.
This is no different for cats than it is for dogs. Also, some dogs with long coats can’t tolerate too much heat, but others can.
Don’t just rely on the thermostat to protect your cat. You should also keep a watchful eye on her.
Keep an eye on your cat in hot temperatures and make sure she doesn’t overheat. If it’s too warm for your cat, she may start acting erratically.
Can Cats Overheat in the Summer?
Cats can overheat at any time of the year. During the colder seasons, you will certainly use artificial heating sources in your home.
Cats retreat there to be warm and comfortable. Staying there for long periods of time can cause cats’ body temperature to rise to the point where they become hot.
During the summer months, cats are most at risk for overheating. Their fur combined with hot ambient temperatures can lead to excessive body temperature.
The cat will then exhibit the following behaviors:
- Restless pacing
- Inability to rest
- Sweaty paws
- Excessive lamenting
- Increased heart rate
- Irritability and aggression
Panting alone puts stress on a cat’s body. This is because panting puts a strain on the cat’s respiratory system. Therefore, you should avoid it, especially in older cats.
At this point, help your cat to cool down and lower its body temperature. This will help you avoid medical problems. If the cat continues to be too hot, it will dehydrate and eventually risk hyperthermia.
Dehydration in Cats
Dehydration is a constant risk in an overheated cat.
You can test if your cat is dehydrated by gently pinching the skin on the shoulders. This should immediately return to its original position afterward.
However, if the skin feels lifeless, remains wrinkled, and is slow to tighten, dehydration is likely.
In addition to the usual warning signs of dehydration, there are other signs of dehydration in cats:
- Loss of appetite
- Sunken, blurry eyes
- Sticky, discolored gums.
If your cat is dehydrated, there is only one solution: hydration.
Encourage your cat to drink water. If the cat persistently refuses, it should be given intravenous fluids by a veterinarian.
Restoring electrolyte balance helps dehydrate cats. An energy drink such as Gatorade can assist in this.
However, it is not a substitute for water. Gatorade should only be offered to dehydrated cats as a temporary solution.
How to Encourage Cats to Drink
Convincing a cat to drink enough water is always a challenge. However, when treating dehydration, this is of utmost importance.
Spray an enticing scent, such as tuna juice, into a bowl of water. This will pique the cat’s interest.
It doesn’t always work, however, because the cat associates the scent with food. And a dehydrated cat often loses its appetite.
However, if your cat is interested in food, offer foods with high water content. Fruits such as watermelon or strawberries can satisfy this need.
Unfortunately, many cats are indifferent to sweet flavors, so your cat may not be interested.
Providing your cat with a flowing water source is usually the best method. Cats instinctively distrust still water.
Feral cats drink from running water, such as from a stream. They consider this water to be cleaner and less prone to contamination.
In the short term, you can also simply run a faucet in the kitchen or bathroom. Your cat will probably show interest right away.
While you’re at it, run cold water at a low intensity. The cat will probably start slurping the water and drinking accordingly.
However, you can not rely on this method forever. Perhaps invest in a small fountain as a long-term solution.
Fountains provide a constant water supply. The cat will drink regularly if it feels safe doing so.
Hyperthermia in Cats
Hyperthermia or heat stroke is a serious problem in cats. A body temperature above 104 °F (40 °C) can cause hyperthermia.
When a cat suffers heat stroke, its body temperature rises even higher.
A cat with hyperthermia can quickly reach temperatures above 107 °F (42 °C). This is life-threatening.
Signs of hyperthermia in cats include:
- Vomiting and diarrhea.
- Extreme redness of the mouth and tongue
- Disorientation and difficulty walking
- Bruising in the abdominal area
- Seizures and possible loss of consciousness.
The main risk of heat stroke in cats is the effects on the lungs. A hyperthermic cat will not be able to breathe adequately. In this case, immediate action must be taken.
If you suspect your cat is having heat stroke, make an appointment with a veterinarian. The cat will almost certainly need intravenous fluids.
In the meantime, try to lower the cat’s body temperature.
Immerse the cat in cool, but not too cold water in a shady place. It is best to keep the cat in a bowl filled with water, but a sink is also suitable.
Encourage the cat to drink, using a syringe if necessary. Once you can safely move your cat, take it to a veterinarian for further examination.
How to Keep Cats Comfortable When It’s Hot
When the weather is hot, many cats are in their element. Your cat will likely be more active and playful at first.
However, this can quickly turn into lethargy and irritability. Cats feel uncomfortable when they are too hot.
Even a cat that has no health problems will struggle with excessive heat. As the owner, you are responsible for making sure your cat is at the right temperature.
There are several ways you can do this. Most of them don’t even require you to spend money.
Monitor the Time in the Sun
If given the chance, the cat will be drawn to the sun.
This is relaxing at first but can be uncomfortable for the cat in the long run. You need to be careful of sunburn or worse.
It’s quite easy to control time in the sun for an indoor cat. Simply draw the curtains and drapes when your cat has basked in the window long enough.
You can open them again later when your cat has cooled down a bit.
This is more difficult with outdoor cats. Cats often go away for a bit to sunbathe undisturbed. This can be dangerous.
If the cat is overheated, she may become disoriented. She may have a hard time finding her way home.
Therefore, keep your outdoor cat at home during the highest temperatures. Have your cat out on patrol early in the morning and bring it indoors around 11 a.m.
The cat should then stay home until early evening when the heat of the sun is less intense.
How to Cool Cats When It’s Hot Outside
Turning on a fan seems to be the easiest way to cool down a hot cat. Some cats enjoy the feel of a breeze, but many object to it.
Cats have a natural aversion to drafts. Therefore, if you use a fan, set it on low power.
There are more effective ways to cool a cat. If your cat’s body temperature exceeds 100 °F (38 °C) or the ambient temperature rises above 86 °F (30 °C), consider these methods.
Give your cat something frozen to play with. The easiest way is to freeze gravy or meat broth in ice cubes.
The cat will lick and eventually swallow these treats as it enjoys the taste. This cools the cat down and at the same time provides hydration.
You can also use frozen peas as a game for a playful cat. Spread the peas on a flat surface and let your cat chase after them.
Keep in mind, however, that the heat can make your cat lethargic. If she shows no interest, pick up the peas and resort to ice cubes.
If your cat likes to chew on toys, put them in the freezer. Once they are iced, offer them to your cat.
The cat will play as usual and find the cold toys soothing to her paws and gums.
Cooling mats are small rubber mats that you place on the floor. The cat lies down on the mat and exposes its bare abdomen to a cold surface.
This will quickly lower the cat’s body temperature a bit.
You can even make your own makeshift cooling mat. Fill a hot water bottle with cold water, preferably just above freezing.
The cat can then lie down on it. The bottle will protect the cat from ice burn, but the calming effect will remain. However, you can also use a damp towel.
Cold tiles in the kitchen or bathroom can also be used. However, note that these tiles can absorb heat from a nearby window. Therefore, you should check the temperature of the tiles beforehand.
A Shady Retreat
Your cat already has its territory in your home. The cat may have chosen its territory because it is right near a heat source.
Cats often like to lie down in the path of sunlight through a window because it’s so nice and hot.
Normally, this would be a source of comfort. However, it could cause the cat to overheat. Make this more comfortable in high temperatures by providing shade.
Simply use cardboard boxes to protect the cat from direct heat. This serves two purposes. It helps the cat stay cool and provides entertainment at the same time.
For example, the cat can chew on the cardboard. Put out some favorite toys to entice the cat to stay.
Grooming a cat, especially a long-haired breed, is critical to maintaining a comfortable temperature.
When you brush your cat, you remove excess fur. This helps to promote the natural shedding process.
In addition, brushing distributes natural oils throughout the cat’s body.
If your cat feels hot during grooming, place some damp towels on her coat and skin.
This is preferable to bathing, which causes stress. Your cat will dry off quickly, but will enjoy the cooling sensation of the damp water.
A body temperature above 100 °F (38 °C) is too hot for cats to be comfortable. At this point, begin to help your cat cool down.
One degree too many does not pose an immediate health threat. However, it does not take long for a cat to become dangerously overheated.