Most cats love hot weather. In our home we regularly find our cats sitting in a sun spot, or pressed against the window. But in some cases, especially for us in south Florida, we need to ask the question “how hot is too hot” when it comes to our cats.
Well, the short answer is, it depends. Various resources online will give you numbers between 80°F (27°C) and 100°F (38°C), and this sounds like a great general rule of thumb.
To break this down further, we need to understand our cats better as well as their tolerance levels.
Factors That Affect A Cats Tolerance To Heat
At a basic level, you should look at three main factors to better determine how much heat your cat can really stand. That would be their breed, their age, and their overall health.
Some cats, like the Persians, Siberians, and Maine Coon’s have long hair. This makes them primary targets of heat related issues due to the length of their hair. With breeds that have longer hair, drop your ideal temperature down from 100°F (38°C) to 80°F (27°C) or 90°F (32°C) to be safe.
If it comes as a surprise to you, age is a major factor in a cat's ability to sweat it out. Older cats generally have a harder time breathing, and are easier affected by extreme heats than younger cats. Our recommendation would be to drop your ideal temp down around 80 for older cats as well.
As cats can have a variety of health issues, this is not a one-size-fits-all answer. It really depends on your cat's health issues, and the severity of them, but it’s extremely important to consider health issues when determining extreme heat for cats. If your cat has heart or breathing problems, is obese, or a flat face, you better drop your temperature down closer to 80 to help them out.
Signs Of A Heatstroke In Cats
Now, if you are in fear that your cat is having a heatstroke, here’s some of the signs you need to watch out for:
- Rapid and labored breathing
- Persistent panting
- Marked lethargy, aversion to movement
- Redness around the tongue and mouth area
- Elevated heart and respiratory rates
- Excessive salivation, abnormal drooling
- Episodes of vomiting containing blood
- Occurrence of bloody diarrhea
- Unwillingness to walk, or evident struggle in doing so
- Sudden collapses, unresponsiveness to surroundings
- Disorientation, unawareness, uncoordinated movements
- Body temperature of 104°F or above
- Noticeable loss of appetite, refusal of food
- Sweaty paws, indicative of stress or discomfort
What To Do If Your Cat Has A Heatstroke
If you forgot to leave your AC on at home and you come home to find your cat displaying one or several of these signs, the first thing you need to do is get them under a fan and away from direct sunlight and hot surfaces. For whatever reason, cats are like a moth to the flame with sun spots, to the point where it can be dangerous for them. So bring them somewhere cool and out of the sun and make sure there’s a fan or AC on to cool them off further.
Next, get a cloth and dampen it with room temperature water. You’re probably going to upset your cat with this, so try to get as much water as possible off the cloth before applying it to your cat. Remember, we want the cloth to cool them off, not soak them.
Get a fresh bowl of water and place it as close to them as possible. We’re not forcing them to drink, we just want to ensure they have fresh, clean water nearby.
Now, call a vet and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
The most important thing to do is not overreact and dump ice on your cat. Dropping their body temperature too fast can cause excessive issues and make things worse.
Tips For Keeping Your Cat Cool In Hot Weather
We’re in Miami, so our cats are no strangers to heat. They build a tolerance for it, but it’s always important to keep a few essentials ready to go for them in case things get too hot.
First, fresh water is a must. Hydration is key, as I’m sure you already know. If you don’t have running water available, it’s a good idea to let your shower faucet on just a little to provide some constant running water that’s clean. Cats will find it - Yaki loves it.
Next, if you’re not a fan of automated AC’s, you should be. When we are out for the day and leave the cats at home, we keep the AC on with temperature control to ensure it never gets too hot in the apartment. If you’re really trying to save money, or will be out for a long time, I suggest setting it higher, somewhere around 78°F - but don’t keep it off. Not only will it potentially get too hot for your cats, it will make your house/apartment miserable when you get back.
Be sure your cats have somewhere cool to go. If all your shades are open, they might not have much escape from the heat. Find a place in the house or apartment and draw the blinds to keep the sunlight out. Bonus if this is a room with an AC or fan, so there’s a dedicated place for cats to cool down.
Remember, cats aren’t stupid - they know what’s too hot for them and they will make efforts not to have a heatstroke, you just need to provide the resources for them.