A lot is said about how cool cats are, both metaphorically and literally, and because our own domestic cats evolved from wild ancestors in arid desert regions, even pet cats are well equipped at remaining cool enough when everyone else around them is baking hot!
However, like many things pertaining to cats, cats are very subtle and discreet about how and why they do things, and it may seem to many people that cats simply have a mystical ability to stay comfortable when it is hot, even when dogs, people and other pets are finding the heat really challenging.
While there are certainly a lot of mystical things about cats and most of us get through out entire lives without ever unlocking all of their mysteries, how cats keep their cool when the weather is hot is actually very scientific, as well as simple! In this article we will look at the various ways that cats keep their cool in hot weather, to explain away some of the mysticism! Read on to learn more.
When the weather is really hot and most of us are trying to avoid moving any more than possible, most of us consider our furry friends with some pity, thinking that it must be terrible to have to wear a thick fur coat when it is already the height of summer!
However, while fur does of course fulfil the main role of insulating the cat in cold weather so that they don’t get too cold, it can also provide the opposite effect in the summer. Your cat’s fur coat protects them from the direct rays of the sun, and also insulate them against overheating beyond a certain point.
Hairless cat breeds such as the Sphynx are much less able to regulate their temperature and are much more likely to suffer from sunburn and heatstroke, and so they need special care and attention in the hotter weather.
While we often talk about cool cats, cats are actually very warm animals all told! As mentioned, they hail from warm, arid climates whose high temperatures are well above anything that we are likely to experience in the UK, and they are naturally more comfortable in the heat than we as humans are.
The resting basic body temperature of cats is a degree or so higher than that of people too. This means that your cat’s idea of an ambient temperature will be slightly higher than yours, and that your cat is apt to declare things “too cold!” and seek out a source of heat when we are comfortable and think that it is just warm enough.
You may well have noticed that when the weather is hot, your cat is apt sot lounge around flat out on cool surfaces such as the tiled floor or your kitchen or utility room, the floor of the bathroom, or even in the bottom of an empty bath! Doing this allows your cat to get all of their tummy in contact with a surface that is cooler than the air around them, and this large surface area functions as a very effective heat exchange surface to allow them to bring their core body temperature down.
While cats are renowned for spending the majority of their lives asleep or lazing around, this is apt to kick up a notch when the weather is really warm, and your cat will likely spend a great deal of their time sleeping, dozing or simply flumped out!
Obviously the more active that you are at any time of the year, the warmer you will feel-and so the less that you do, the better you will be able to keep cool. The same is true for your cat, and so they will likely be less interested in play and hunting and more interested in lazing about when it is really hot!
Cats spend a significant amount of their time grooming their coats and taking care of their personal appearance, but when it is warm out, there is more to this behaviour than simply being finicky about hygiene! When your cat licks their fur, their fur becomes slightly moist, and this moisture then evaporates off in a cooling process much like sweating for us people.
Additionally, licking means that your cat’s tongue, which is rich in blood vessels and capillaries, will come into contact with the cooler air and help them to lower their internal temperature, much as dogs do by panting.
Finally, many cat owners become concerned at some point that their cats are not drinking enough water, because cats don’t tend to drink a lot and due to their origins, need less water like for like given their body size in order to stay hydrated. However, your cat will almost certainly drink a little bit more when the weather is hot, in order to help to keep them cool and comfortable as well as hydrated enough.