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How Do Cats Cool Down? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Helpful Tips

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

Gray persian cat is licking ice

Vet approved

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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As summer slowly arrives, we start up our dormant air conditioners and break out our dusty flip-flops. When you look at your cat, you might wonder how on earth they can stay cool with those furry coats!

But cats have a variety of ways that they keep cool, which includes grooming and finding shade and maybe a cold floor to stretch out on.

If you’re curious about how cats keep themselves cool and how you can help them stay that way, please read on!

Click below to jump ahead:

The 4 Ways Cats Cool Down

For the most part, cats enjoy the heat. The ancestors of domesticated cats thrived in hot places like Africa and Arabia, so they can deal with heat better than we can. But when the heat is a bit much, they do have their ways of cooling off.

1. Grooming

It’s hard to believe that cats can cool down through grooming, but it is actually quite effective! You might notice your cat grooming more often in the summer, and the reason that it works is through evaporation. The excess saliva evaporates, which helps cool their skin.

Just know that if a cat is overgrooming, you might notice bald patches and inflamed skin. This will need a vet’s attention.

2. Finding a Cool Spot

If a cat is outside, they’ll gravitate to shady spots under bushes and trees. An indoor cat might sleep the day away on your cool kitchen (or another room’s) floor. Tile is much cooler than many other materials.

You might also notice that your cat is more inclined to sleep while stretched out. In water, your cat likely tends to sleep curled up, which is how they conserve heat. In the summer, you’ll find them stretched out more, which helps keep them cooler.

cat sleeping in the dark
Image Credit: Daronk Hordumrong, Shutterstock

3. Sweating

Cats have sweat glands on the few parts of their bodies that aren’t covered in fur. This includes the skin around the anus, chin, lips, and paw pads, which will sweat when they get too hot.

That said, it’s not efficient for cats to cool down this way, particularly because these areas are small. Cats will also sweat when stressed, so it isn’t uncommon to see little wet pawprints under these circumstances.

4. Panting

Like dogs, if a cat is overheated, you might see them pant. But this isn’t a normal response, and if you see your cat pant, it might indicate they are too hot, very stressed, or have a dangerous issue with the heart or lungs.

If you believe your cat is panting because of the heat, place them in the coolest spot in your home and provide them with a cold bowl of water. But if your cat continues to pant or isn’t behaving normally, take them to the vet immediately. It might be a life-threatening situation like a heart or respiratory problem or heatstroke.

Cat Panting
Image Credit: Paul_Brighton, Shutterstock

What Is Too Hot for Cats?

The normal body temperature of the average adult cat is 100.4–102.5°F (38–39°C). If the ambient temperature is above 90°F (32°C), this is when they will start to become uncomfortable.

What Are the Signs That a Cat Is Overheated?

Beyond sweating paws and panting, there are other signs to look out for when your cat becomes dangerously overheated.
  • Restlessness (your cat might be trying to find a cool place)
  • Excessive grooming (your cat is trying to cool off)
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Sweaty feet
From here, if your cat hasn’t cooled down, other, more serious signs of heat exhaustion will become more apparent.
  • Mouth and tongue that are redder than usual
  • Rapid breathing and pulse
  • Lethargy
  • Stumbling
  • Vomiting
  • Rectal temperature over 105°F (40.6°C)
  • Collapse
  • Seizure
  • Coma

Cooling Your Cat Down

If you are worried your cat might be suffering from heatstroke, take them immediately to a cooler environment and gently wet their body with cool (not cold) water. Provide them with cool drinking water, and then take them to the vet straight away.

What Not to Do

Never use cold water or ice on your cat, as this will cause a too-rapid change in body temperature. You should also not use anything like rubbing alcohol or cover your cat in wet towels.

You also should not shave your cat. While their coats might seem heavy and hot to us, it actually affords cats extra protection against injuries, as well as heat and sunburns.

cat drinking water from the glass
Image Credit: JordanHoliday, Pixabay

Top 10 Ways That You Can Keep Your Cat Comfortable in Hot Weather

If you have air conditioning in your home, you likely needn’t worry too much about this. But if you don’t and your environment tends to get hot, here are a few tips to help keep your cat at a more comfortable temperature.

1. Cat Water Fountain

It’s essential to keep your cat hydrated, and since cats aren’t known to be big water drinkers, investing in a cat water fountain can help. Many cats prefer drinking from running water in general and tend to drink more water than they do from a bowl!

2. Wet Food

Wet food can have up to 70% more water than dry food, so this can be a great way to keep your cat better hydrated. Most cats prefer their wet food to be at room temperature, but some cats might like it cold, particularly during the summer.

3. Shade

If you have an outdoor cat, ensure that your garden has shady spots, like under bushes, or you can set up some kind of awning.

4. Brushing

While shaving your cat is not a good idea, it can help if you give them more frequent brushings. It helps remove any excess hair, and matted fur also traps heat, so stay on top of their grooming at this time.

5. No Overexertion

Try not to play with your cat too vigorously when it’s hot. This can heat your cat up quickly, so encourage your cat to be calm and relaxed.

cat kneading and purring while lying on owner's lap
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

6. Damp Towels

As much as most cats hate being wet, if it’s particularly hot inside, you can take a damp towel and wipe your cat gently with it. The parts of the cat that get the warmest are the paw pads, tummies, under the chin, armpits, and the outside of their ears.

7. A Cool Retreat

Some cats might try sleeping in the bathtub or sink as a way to seek out cool comfort. You can make a little retreat for them, so they feel safe and comfortable.

A good and inexpensive option is to lay a cardboard box on its side and line it with a cotton towel. Place it somewhere quiet, such as behind the furniture or even better, close to the air conditioner or a fan. Although most cats don’t like direct air from fans, indirect exposure can still help.

8. Cooling Bed

You can invest in a high-quality pet cooling bed or mat, particularly if your place gets hot. These kinds of beds use things like micro-gel beads to help absorb body heat.

9. Frozen Treats

You can try freezing some of your cat’s favorite treats or filling ice cube trays with water or tuna juice (from tuna cans packed in water).

10. Household Adherence to the Rules

As much as your cat might love lying in a patch of sunlight, you should keep the curtains closed on particularly sweltering days.

If you don’t have an air conditioner, you’ll want to have some kind of airflow, so bring out the fans and open the windows if the temperature outside is lower than inside your home. On dangerously hot days, you might want to consider checking into a cat-friendly hotel with AC.

Cat playing with water in bathtub
Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock


Cats do quite well at cooling themselves off, which is difficult for us to consider—imagine hanging around with a fur coat on all summer! But all that grooming does an excellent job of keeping their body temperatures at a comfortable level.

Just keep an eye on your cat on hotter-than-usual days, particularly if you don’t have air conditioning. At the first sign that they are struggling, use cool water to bring their temperature down, and see your vet. Also, use these tips to help keep your feline friend comfortable all summer long.

Featured Image Credit: Chaiwat Hemakom, Shutterstock

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