The Ideal Temperature to Keep Cats Safe and Healthy Is Lower Than You'd Expect

Cats love to sunbathe, whether it's on a nice warm spot on the porch, in a cat condo, or by a window sill. But basking in the sun can become a dangerous situation if the temperature gets too high. Even if you keep your cat inside all the time, there's a chance that the house or a certain room may become too hot for your cat. Pets by Wide Open Media spoke to Dr. Jennifer Conrad, a veterinarian and the founder of the Paw Project, to find out how hot is too hot for cats—plus tips to keep them cool when temperatures rise.

As a general rule of thumb, Conrad says "it's too hot for cats if it's too hot for you or your child." Of course, some people have a higher tolerance for heat than others and certain cat breeds are more sensitive to heat than others. To be safe, the American Animal Hospital Association says any temperature above 80 degrees is too hot for your feline friend.

How to Keep Cats Cool and Safe

A cat sits outside by yellow flowers

One of the most obvious ways to keep cats cool is to keep them inside when you can control the temperature. The indoors is also ideal because, as Conrad notes, it helps cats regulate their body temperature. But if the AC breaks, your house gets warm, or you have an outdoor cat, then you may need some other cool down options.

"Providing cool surfaces like sinks, bathtubs, floors, and air conditioning vents will let them choose where they are most comfortable," Conrad says. Additionally, she says to "always provide cool, clean, fresh water in places that are readily accessible for the cats." If your cat tolerates it, consider adding ice cubes to their water dish for added refreshment. You can also pat water on your cat's paws, head, and back to help prevent overheating.

If you aren't home when the house heats up, try not to panic. Most cats will instinctually find somewhere to cool down inside your house, like a shaded area or dark room, until you get home.

Additionally, never leave your cat inside a car. The temperature rises quickly inside a car and it can become unbearable—or even deadly—within a matter of minutes.

Signs of Heatstroke in Cats

a cat pants in the grass

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Your cat may suffer a heatstroke if they get too hot. Although temperature plays a role in this, some cats are more prone to heatstroke than others. Persian cats, for example, are more likely to suffer from heatstroke because they do not regulate temperature as effectively as other breeds do. Long-haired cats, like Maine  coons, also have a hard time since their fur traps the heat. During the warmer months you will want to look out for signs of heatstroke in cats, which include:

  • Lethargy
  • Sweaty paws
  • Trouble breathing
  • Excessive panting or drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Incoordination or stumbling
  • Red around tongue and mouth

If your cat is panting or vomiting, take them inside for a cool—not cold—drink of water. You can also cover them in towels soaked in lukewarm water. Be sure to cool your cat down gradually (i.e. no ice baths), as drastic temperature changes can cause dangerous blood pressure changes. If your pet's condition does not improve in 10 minutes, consult with your vet or emergency vet immediately.

How do you keep your cats cool? Tell us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page. 

READ MORE: 5 Reasons Your Cat Won't Drink From Their Water Bowl