- Cats can’t sweat like humans can — This makes our feline friends more vulnerable to heat-related illness and injury.
- Cats are most vulnerable when the temperature rises above 80°F — Heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and sunburn are all 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.
Temperatures of 80 degrees Fahrenheit (and higher) are too hot for cats. That’s right, 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.
What temperature do cats like?
Many pet parents will likely find that cats generally enjoy the same temperatures that humans do. This means that your furry feline will like temperatures between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is due to the fact that cats have a higher body temperature than we do. While humans average about 98.7 degrees Fahrenheit, cats average out to 101—102.5 degrees , meaning they can stand slightly warmer temperatures than we can while still being comfortable.
If you find that your cat is in a warmer environment that exceeds 80 degrees, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for symptoms of heat exhaustion or other forms of heat injury.
Factors influencing cat’s heat tolerance
There are many different factors that can influence a cat’s heat tolerance. Generally speaking, animals with flat faces, like Persian cats or pugs, are more susceptible to heatstroke in warm weather because they can’t pant as effectively as other types of cats. Senior kitties, obese cats, and cats with heart disease or lung conditions should also be kept cool indoors.
Other factors that can possibly affect heat tolerance include:
Breed and coat length
Cats with long fur can overheat more easily than those with short or thinned fur, as they won’t be able to release heat easily. If you have a long-haired cat and you’re facing the heat, you might consider setting them in front of a fan, cooling their water before serving it to them, using ice packs, or using slightly damp towels on your cat’s coat to cool their skin.
Older cats can be prone to poor circulation , which can contribute to problems releasing heat from the body. If you have a senior kitty, keep a close eye on their temperature and work to control the temperature of their environment.
Certain conditions can make cats more prone to heat injuries. Examples of these conditions include breathing conditions or heart conditions that can affect the cat’s circulation. Asthma, chronic sinus infections, and an enlarged heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can all make cats more prone to heat injuries.
Signs your cat is too hot
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
- Mild weakness
- Bloody diarrhea
- A temperature of 104°F or above
👉 If possible, take your cat’s temperature with a pet-safe thermometer. This will give you the most accurate information that your vet can use as they start their care. They also might take the cat’s temperature in-office to verify just how hot your pet is.
Best for a rectal reading
Vet-Temp Rapid Flexible Digital Pet Thermometer
What to do if you think your cat has heatstroke
If you think your cat has heatstroke or another heat-related illness, here’s what to do:
- Get help. Take your cat to the vet to get them help ASAP.
- Keep cool. Try to cool them down by wetting their fur at home, or on the way to the vet. You can do this at the first sign of heat injury.
- 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. Tepid, room temp, or cool water works just fine.
- Let air work its magic. It’s a good idea to turn a fan on high (or your air conditioning unit) and put them in a shaded, air-conditioned environment that is far away from direct sunlight. Do this at the first sign of heat injury. Remove them from any warm, fuzzy blankets or heat-trapping beds as well.
- Hydrate (on their terms). 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).
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.
Hot weather health risks
Although it may not be your first concern when it comes to having a cat, overheating is a 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. 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, the whites of the eyes, or the 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.
Hot weather safety
Here are our favorite 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. Your vet can give you specialized care to help keep your pet cool in high temperatures.
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. This can help you avoid heat stress altogether, especially if you have a cooling system in the living space.
Monitor your cat closely — Heat exhaustion and related illnesses can overtake an animal quickly, especially if they are in a hot area over an extended period of time. 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 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 so they can regulate their body temperature when outside.
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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. 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.