Felines are known to be creatures who love warmth, commonly seen stretched out to soak their bellies in rays of sunshine.
However, warm climates and hot weather can sometimes become too much for them to handle. Because of this, many pet owners struggle to decide if they should keep the air conditioning on for their cats.
But do cats like air conditioning? Although cats can tolerate high and low temperatures, air conditioning can come in handy to assist your cat in regulating its temperature especially during very hot days or summer.
However, this does not automatically mean that cats like air conditioning because the noise and smell coming from the machine might not be something that your cat tolerates.
Cats sweat differently
Cats do not sweat in the same way like we do. This means their ability to regulate body temperature are different from ours.
Cats only sweat through their paws, meaning that cool-down methods include grooming, panting, stretching, and releasing excess body heat from their ears.
Leaving a cat in an enclosed space with no airflow can become extremely dangerous. Especially if that space is hot and the cat cannot cool itself.
These spaces include cars, greenhouses, sheds, small rooms, etc. If there is little airflow and lots of sunshine, the outcome will not be good even for just a short amount of time.
It takes only ten minutes for a cat to collapse from heat exhaustion. With humidity added, it becomes even worse.
Air conditioning provides the flexibility
Although cats love the hot sunshine and are known to be desert animals, letting them be hot is not always safe. Cats can suffer heat stroke and even death if left in an unsafely warm environment.
It is much easier for a cat to warm itself up when they’re a bit chilly than to cool itself off when overheated.
If the AC is on, a cat can always find a sunny spot to warm its belly or curl up with a cozy blanket; on the contrary, it is much more difficult to find a cool spot when the entire home is sweltering.
Sometimes, your cat might be irritated once you turn on the air conditioning. There could be many reasons:
- Your cat is annoyed by the air blowing directly at her.
- Your machine is too old and makes a lot of noises that irritate her.
- Your cat dislikes the smell circulated by the air conditioning.
Who knows? There can be a hundred reasons, but if your cat hates it means she hates it!
If you really feel too warm and the air conditioning is a must for you, try to locate your cat away from the air outlet.
The cat will come over by herself if she enjoys the cool air. Or else she has the freedom to go somewhere else.
Sometimes air conditioning can be a bit too much for our feline friends.
They are comfortable when we are comfortable for the most part, and typically we do not leave our AC on at an uncomfortably low temperature.
But as cats are much smaller and their temperature regulation does not work the same as ours, we should keep in mind that they might prefer something slightly different than we do.
Typically, cats can tolerate higher temperatures than humans. This makes sense due to their ability to conserve energy.
Because cats have their own efficient heat regulation, there may be little need to have the AC on just for them. In fact, there can be side effects to air conditioning for cats. Did you know our little felines can catch colds?
Yup. Just like we can. A runny nose, sneezing, lethargy, watery eyes, and a slight fever are the usual signs of a cat cold.
Though a cat is unlikely to get a cold from the air conditioning, it is possible. Therefore, it is important to ensure the living space has adequate temperature regulation and airflow.
Keeping cats cool without air-conditioning
Although air conditioning is a wonderful way to keep our pets in a healthy temperature range, many pet owners do not have access to air conditioning.
Or, if one’s air conditioning breaks, quick solutions may be needed.
Beyond air conditioning, options for cooling a house include:
- First off, make sure there is plenty of water for your feline to stay hydrated.
- Wet blankets and towels over open windows to cool the air and block the excess sun. Petting your cat with a damp towel can help as well.
- Small fans for your pets to cool themselves, and big fans for the living space in general
- Open windows in the morning and evening to create a cross-ventilation with the naturally cooler breeze.
- Turning on the kitchen exhaust fan will help to pull out hot air.
- If you have a multi-level living situation, encourage your pets to hang out and sleep in the lowest level where the temperature will be lowest.
- If your cat has a very thick coat, you might want to consider having the groomer shave it on the belly or a full lion’s cut in the hottest months.
- This might sound like a bit over, but it can be a great option: some cat owners often get them “chinchilla chillers” or small slabs of granite meant for chinchillas. A sleeping place made from stone, cement, or brick can also keep felines cool. Many companies make cooling pads just for cats. Create a homemade chiller with a frozen bottle of water wrapped in a towel.
Cats can self-regulate their temperature too
Unlike dogs and humans, cats know how to keep their core body temperature low. They will be less active during the hotter afternoon, saving their energy for morning and night when temperatures are cooler.
On hot days, owners often find their cats sprawled out on the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, or garage floor. Sometimes cats disappear for hours, only to emerge from under the bed or out of a closet.
For them, these are nice cool places to take a nap until the sun goes down. So, ensure open access to cooler places in the house for your cats to cool themselves naturally.
Besides this, cats will groom to achieve the same effect as sweating for us. When the saliva evaporates from their fur, it cools them down, just as we might feel chilly from our sweat after a jog.
When is a cat too hot?
A cat that is too hot will display signs of hyperthermia or heat stroke:
- Restless behavior
- Sweaty paws, excessive grooming, and panting
- Lethargy, drooling
- Rapid pulse and breathing
- Staggering or stumbling
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Rectal temperature over the normal range of 101-103 degrees Fahrenheit.
When is a cat too cold?
On the other hand, a cat that is too cold will often be curled up in the ball or loaf position. Maybe they even want an extra cuddle or spend all day on the sunny windowsill.
These are good indicators of a cat being too cold.
Hypothermia is more difficult to notice, as it might seem that a cat is simply cozying up to sleep. However, if a cat appears desperate for a warm spot and its body temperature is cold to the touch, it is time to turn off the AC or even turn on the heater.
In more extreme cases, cats will visibly shiver. Your cat, if too cold from AC being on all day, could catch a cold.
Though the risk of hypothermia because of air conditioning is close to none. And catching a cold is unlikely.
Ideal temperature for your cat’s living space
A cat’s survivable temperature range is between 30 and 115 degrees. Though a cat may survive, the extremes are not comfortable.
The size, weight, age, and fluff are all factors in whether or not to leave the AC cranked for your feline.
A small, short-haired kitten can get hypothermia at “room” temperature, while a 14-pound adult Ragdoll cat may be able to sleep out in the snow.
Though they shouldn’t. Fur can be a significant contributor, as fur is a cat’s natural insulator.
It keeps them warm in the cold, and cool in the heat. A cat’s general health should be taken into consideration as well.
A sick or elderly cat would need a warmer environment than a young, healthy cat.
Cats can make their own body heat, falling in the category of warm-blooded. However, a cat’s ability to keep warm or cool depends on many factors.
For one, though they create their own body heat, it is minimal due to their efficient muscle movements. Dogs, on the other hand, generate a lot of body heat and might depend on the AC being on all day.
It is important to remember that our pets are typically comfortable when we are. Keeping your living space at a steady temperature of 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit will ensure a happy cat.
Our cats can’t tell us verbally if they prefer the air conditioning to be on or not, but we can use our good judgment and personal knowledge of our pet’s behavior to determine what is best for them. It is also important to keep in mind that it is easier to get warm than to keep cool.
Every cat varies in their ability to regulate body temperature. Consult a veterinarian to determine the best temperature range for your feline.