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tabby cat sunbathing

The essentials

  • Cats can’t sweat like humans can — This makes them more vulnerable to heat-related illness and injury.
  • Cats are most vulnerable when the temperature rises above 80°F — Heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and sunburn are among the possible complications.
  • Some cats are more at risk than others — Cats with preexisting medical conditions and senior cats should be kept in a cool place at all costs.

How hot is too hot?

Despite being descendants of wild cats that roamed the desert, cats can overheat. Because they can’t sweat and regulate their body temperature like humans can, they’re at risk of heat-related health issues. This is especially true when temperatures reach 80°F or above.

How common are heat injuries in cats?

This varies depending on the local climate and whether a cat is an indoor or outdoor pet. But even then, heat injuries in cats aren’t all that common, mostly because they don’t tend to partake in extended outdoor recreation and aren’t left in hot cars nearly as often as dogs. When cats do get heat injuries, they’re often burn-related and the result of a household accident.

Cats most at risk

Animals with flat faces, like Persian cats, are more susceptible to heatstroke in warm weather because they can’t pant as effectively as other types of cats. Senior kitties, overweight cats, and cats with heart disease or lung conditions should also be kept cool indoors.

Hot weather health risks

Although it may not be your first concern when it comes to having a cat, overheating is a very real risk for felines, especially in the summer months. These are some of the most common things that can happen when your feline gets too hot.

  • Heat exhaustion. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill cat nap fatigue. Heat exhaustion causes extreme lethargy, weakness, and discomfort. Vomiting and diarrhea can also occur as a result of this condition.
  • Heatstroke. This illness can happen when a cat’s temperature rises above their standard body temp of 100°F. Signs of heatstroke are very similar to heat exhaustion. Some potential symptoms can include red gums and blood clotting that may cause red bruises to form in the mouth, whites of the eyes, or abdomen.
  • Sunburn. Your cat’s fur can somewhat protect them from UV rays. But it’s still possible for pets to get sunburnt. In severe cases, this can lead to skin cancer.

A note on hot cars

Never leave your cat in a hot car. This may seem obvious, but it happens all too often. There’s no safe amount of time to leave your cat in a hot car — not even for a minute. On hot days, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly rise to dangerous levels. For example, when it’s 85°F out, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can climb to 102°F in only 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature can be as high as 120°F.

If you ever see a pet trapped in a hot vehicle, there are a few steps you can take to help, including searching nearby businesses for the owner of the car.

Signs of heat injury in cats

Head to your local vet’s office right away if you notice any of the following signs in your cat:

  • Excessive panting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart and respiratory rate
  • Drooling
  • Mild weakness
  • Collapse
  • Seizures
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • A temperature of 104°F or above

👉 If possible, take your cat’s temperature with a pet-safe thermometer. Find more info on one of our favorites below:

What to do if you think your cat has heatstroke

If you think your cat has heatstroke or another heat-related illness, take your cat to the vet to get them help ASAP. You can also try to cool them down by wetting their fur. That said, make sure the water isn’t too cold. Ice cold water can cause your cat’s blood vessels to narrow, which can further inhibit their ability to cool off. It’s also a good idea to turn a fan on high and put them in a shaded, air-conditioned environment. Don’t force them to drink, but make sure they have access to fresh, cold water (perhaps with a couple of ice cubes tossed in).

Hot weather safety

Here are our fav tips to make sure your cat is as healthy as possible when enjoying the summer sun:

Get a summer checkup — Make sure your cat doesn’t have any preexisting health conditions that may increase their sensitivity to heat, like heart disease or obesity.

Be aware of humidity — Humidity can affect your cat just as much as dry heat. Cats pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs. If the humidity is too high, they’re unable to do so, which can cause them to overheat.

Stay inside on hot days — If you’re concerned about your kitty overheating on a particularly warm day, it’s best to err on the side of caution and keep them inside in a well-ventilated, air-conditioned environment.

Monitor your cat closely — Heat exhaustion and related illness can overtake an animal quickly. If your cat is exposed to extreme heat, keep your eye on them at all times and watch out for any of the symptoms mentioned above.

Stay shaded and hydrated — Make sure your cat always has access to clean, cool water in the form that they prefer. Cats are picky about how they drink — and the more you can encourage them to lap up, the better. If your cat’s going to be outside in the heat, make sure they also have shade to cool down in.

Frequently asked questions

What room temperature is too hot for cats?

Any time the temperature creeps toward 80°F, be on guard, as it can easily become too hot for cats. Pay attention to your cat’s tendencies and talk with your vet about how to keep your feline safe. Lastly, keep in mind that some cats are more sensitive to heat than others.

How hot is too hot to let my cat go outside?

A good rule of thumb is to keep your cat inside whenever the temperature climbs above 80°F. If you have outdoor cats, make sure they have access to a shaded area with plenty of fresh, cold water and a fan. If you can, bring them inside.

What is a cat’s heat tolerance?

Cats’ heat tolerances vary depending on their breed, age, and overall health. Your feline’s risk of heatstroke and other heat-related health complications gravely increases when the temperature is 80°F or above.

How do cats cool themselves?

Cats don’t sweat like humans can. To regulate their body temperature, they pant, which expels moisture from their body and helps cool them down. However, panting can be inhibited by extreme temperatures and even high humidity.

What is a comfortable temperature for indoor cats?

Anywhere between 60 and 70°F should be a comfortable house temperature for indoor cats. The goal is to keep their internal body temperature in the normal range of 100 to 102°F.