Monday, June 15, 2020

Six Tips for Keeping Cats Cool in the Summer Heat

Even though the Summer Solstice hasn't arrived, the heat wave is already here, especially in the South where we live! We've already had nine days in May and early June with temperatures in the 90s. Have you ever wondered how cats with furry coats keep cool or how we, as humans, can help them maintain a comfortable temperature?
Silver cat behind a water bottle
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As a rule of thumb, cats do well when the external temperature meets or stays below the cat's natural body temperature (100.5 to 102.5℉). However you should be on alert when the outdoor temperature gets above the normal temperature range for a cat. While indoors, you should set your thermostat between 75 - 78℉ (Aire Serv, 2018).

Truffle and Brulee are Silver Shaded Persian Cats who stay inside year-round. I do not shave their fur coats in the summer to "cool them off." This is misconception for many people who live with Persian Cats (or other long haired cats). A cat's coat is designed by nature to keep it cool in the summer. If you shave your cat during the summer, you are interfering with this "built-in temperature regulation." (Friesm, 2016). There are other ways to help keep your indoor cat cool during the hot days of Summer.

Six Tips for Keeping Your Cat Cool

Shade

Silver Shaded Persian Cat in box
Brulee loves to rest inside a box to stay cool

Even if your cat lives indoors during the summer, she can get overheated if she is resting in a room with the shades or blinds open or if there is no circulation.  You should provide an area where your cat can escape from the heat. An inexpensive "cool retreat" would be to use a cardboard box that is lined with a cotton or terry towel. You can add cool water bottles with ice cubes or a frozen bottle wrapped in one of the towels to help keep the area cool. Some cats will seek shade under your bed. If you have a sun room, don't confine your cat in this room because temperatures can get extremely high without circulation or AC.

Cool Sleeping Spot

Persian kitten sleeping in sink
Brulee enjoyed sleeping in the sink

Many cats will seek out a cool place to rest on their own. You may find them under the bed, in the sink, sleeping underneath the fan or AC vent, or on the cool tiles in the bathroom. You can assist with providing a cool spot for your cat to escape the heat by elevating their bedding (if you don't have a cat tree). You cat put the bed on top of a short table to allow the air to circulate underneath. Sleepypod® provides an Air Mesh bedding that can be placed inside the Mobile Pet Bed to help keep your cat cool indoors or when traveling in the car.

Air Circulation

persian cat on top of cat furniture
Truffle resting on top of her Vesper Condo underneath the fan

Ideally, you should have AC inside your home and set between 75-78℉ during the day. If you don't have an AC, you should open your windows (make sure the screens are tightly secured). If you have ceiling fans, keep them running in the room with the lights turned off. If you don't have ceiling fans, you can use small box fans to help cool down the room. Make sure your cat is protected from the blades of the box fan and can't get her tail or paws caught. There are modern pieces of cat furniture (such as the Catit® Vesper Condo in the photo above) that are open and allow air to circulate underneath where your cat is resting. Truffle and Brulee both prefer to rest either on top of the cat furniture or on the bed underneath the ceiling fan in a dark room when it's hot outside.

Hydration
persian cat drinking water from fountain
Truffle drinking water from her Thirstycat Fountain

It is imperative that you provide your cat access to fresh water at all times. Cats love to drink from running water, so consider investing in a pet fountain for your cat to enjoy. Cats may prefer drinking from a stream, a flow, or a bubble of water flow so you will need to provide the type of water water fountain that has the type of flow she will drink from. Consider having more than one fountain placed throughout your home so water is readily available. If you don't have a pet fountain, consider providing chilled water from the refrigerator or add some ice cubes to the water bowl. You should still place multiple water bowls throughout your home. If you use water bowls instead of fountains, you should replace the water a few times a day to encourage your cat to drink. 

Grooming

Silver Persian cat groomed with purple comb
Truffle being groomed with a Resco comb

One way cats cool themselves down is by grooming, which is basically wetting their fur with saliva rather than water. There is no need to bathe or put a cat in water to keep them cool. Truffle and Brulee are Persian Cats and they need grooming each day to keep their coats healthy and as mat-free as possible. In addition to being painful, mats can also trap body heat. If it's really hot inside, you may want to "brush" their fur with a moist towel. Some people will do "belly clips" to help keep their cats cool. You may see some people shaving their cats during the summer months with the perception it will keep their cats cool. Most experts (Friesm, 2016) recommend against shaving most pets. A cat's coat is designed by nature to keep it cool in the summer. If you shave her coat, you are "interfering with this built-in temperature regulation." Shaving a cat's fur too close, especially if they are exposed to the sun, may cause sunburn and sun damage. Dr. Mark Stickney, Clinical Associate Professor and Director of General Surgery Services at Texas A&M University Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital,  says that cats are good at regulating body temperature and "really get no benefit from being shaved."

Car Trips
Persian cat in Sleepypod cat carrier in car
Truffle travels in her Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed that allows for circulation of air

Some people take their cats with them on road trips, vacations, and to visit friends. Others only tend to travel with their cats if it's a trip to the veterinarian or an emergency. The key thing to remember is to never leave your cat in the car, especially in the hot summer! When you do travel with your cats during the heat, here are some recommendations to help keep them cool.
  • Park your car in a shady place the night before a planned trip. If you don't have a shade spot, put a sun deflector in the front window to help keep your car cooler prior to putting your cat inside.
  • Consider turning on your car a few minutes in advance with the AC turned on to cool down the inside of a car. If you can set the temperature of your AC, try to adjust the temperature between 72-75℉. It's important to make sure the air doesn't flow directly on your cat. You may want to crack the windows if your car doesn't have a rear AC vent. 
  • Avoid feeding your cat 2-3 hours prior to traveling. You should make sure your cat is well hydrated before leaving on your trip.
  • Some experts recommend that you not play with your cat before traveling in order for her not to be overheated from play.
  • Place a towel or a sunshade in the window beside your cat's carrier to help avoid the heat of direct sunlight. If you have a sun/moon roof, close it if it's directly overhead to the carrier.
  • Freeze bottles of water and wrap them in a towel and place in the carrier to help keep your cat cool.
  • Make sure your cat carrier provides good air flow. I travel with the Sleepypod® Mobile Pet Bed (see photo above), where the entire top is mesh and allows plenty of air flow. Sleepypod also offers an Air Mesh liner for the Mobile Pet Bed that you can zip in to replace the normal liner and it allows more airflow below your cat.

Heat Stroke

Persian cat being examined by vet
Brulee being examined by veterinarian, Dr. Boyette

Heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia, is a "life threatening medical condition in which the body's internal organs begin to shut down as a result of elevated body temperature caused by high, external temperatures and humidity" (Paul, 2019). More often than not, this usually occurs in the summer if your cat is outside in the heat or inside a hot car. Cats are usually comfortable in an environment temperature if people are. However, cats can only cool their body through minor perspiration through their paw pads and panting. However neither of these methods are effective for cooling down your cat's system in extreme heat situations. 

Initial signs that my indicate some distress in heat may be restless behavior as your cat hunts for a location to cool down; panting, sweaty feet, drooling, and/or excessive grooming; or a rectal temperature is normal to slightly elevated. If your cat isn't provided relief from the heat (as described in this article), her body temperature will begin to rise and signs of exhaustion are more evident: rapid pulse and breathing, redness of the tongue and mouth, vomiting, lethargy, stumbling and staggering gait, and a rectal temperature over 105℉. If the body temperature gets high enough, your cat will collapse, have seizures, and possibly slip into a coma.

If you suspect your cat is suffering from a heat stroke, it's imperative you get your cat to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Dr. Jason Nicholas (2018) says, "Bring your cat immediately for veterinary evaluation and care. Ideally, pre-cool your car and call ahead to let the vet know you’re on the way with a cat that has suffered heat stroke." You can read more information from Dr. Nicholas about heat strokes and what to do in his article What You Should Know About Heat Stroke in Cats.


Personal Experience

Persian Cat inside Sleepypod carrier
Brulee resting inside her Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with Air Mesh liner

Truffle and Brulee are silver shaded Persians who live in South Carolina where we have very hot and humid summers with temperatures reaching 100℉ or higher. Our spring and fall months also tend to be hot and humid, so we run the AC 3/4 of the year. Truffle and Brulee have thick fur coats and I keep them in "full coat" year-round. They are groomed (combed and brushed) on a regular basis to remove excess fur and control mats that form. I love the beauty of the Persian Cat and I don't ever plan on shaving them unless there is a medical reason to do so. 

I keep the AC between 72-75℉ during the hotter months and have ceiling fans in every room (except the bathrooms) and they run year-round. I usually keep the lights turned off unless I'm working in one of the rooms. I have 3 different pet fountains in different locations throughout my home so Truffle and Brulee always have plenty of fresh circulating water available. I did change out the regular Plush Liner in their Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed to the Air Mesh Liner and they like resting in their mobile pet beds. I also have several different sizes of cat trees my house and the girls like to sleep either near the top closest to the ceiling fan air or inside one of the cubbies away from the sunlight. When traveling in the car, I "remote start" my car so the AC can cool down the inside before placing the girls inside. I do have a vent in the back seat area, so my windows are left up. I've learned to close my sun roof so direct sunlight won't come down on top of the carriers. I haven't purchased a sun shade or used a towel in the window yet because I don't travel as much with my cats during the heat. 

Truffle and Brulee tend to find their own cool spots in the house. They can be found on the bed underneath the ceiling fan, under the bed near the AC vent, on the bathroom tiled floor, or on top of one of their trees.

What do you do to keep your cat(s) cool in the hot summer months?





Giveaway

The wonderful people at Sleepypod® have generously agreed to allow us to host a giveaway for one of our readers to have the opportunity to win a Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed (choice of color) and a Sleepypod Air Mesh.

The giveaway is open to residents of the US, 18+ years of age, except where prohibited by law. The winners will be randomly selected randomly by Rafflecopter and contacted by email and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. Failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the prize and a new winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter. 
Please note that to qualify for a prize a comment must be left on this blog post. Giveaway closes June 29, 2020 at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


References

Aire Serv (April 5, 2018). What Is the Ideal House Temperature for Dogs and Cats? AireServe Heating & Air Conditioning. https://www.aireserv.com/about/blog/2018/april/what-is-the-ideal-house-temperature-for-dogs-and/.

Blue Cross (November 9, 2019). Top Tips for Keeping Your Cat Cool in Summer. Blue Cross. https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/top-tips-keeping-your-cat-cool-summer

Friesm, Wendy C. (July 28, 2016). Should You Shave Your Pet for Summer? Pets WebMD. https://pets.webmd.com/features/shaving-dog-or-cat-during-summer#1

Kelley, JaneA (2013). Wondering How to Cool Down a Cat? 9 Tips. Catster. https://www.catster.com/the-scoop/how-to-cool-down-a-cat

My Vet Animal Hospital (October 7, 2016). Top Tips for Keeping Your Cat Cool This Summer. My Vet. https://myvetanimalhospital.com.au/top-tips-keeping-indoor-cat-cool-summer/

Nicholas, Jason, DVM (May 16, 2019). What You Should Know About Heat Stroke in Cats. Preventive Vethttps://www.preventivevet.com/cats/what-you-should-know-about-heat-stroke-in-cats

Paul, Mike, DVM (2019). Can Cats Get Heat Stroke? Pet Health Network.  http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/cat-health/cat-diseases-conditions-a-z/can-cats-get-heat-stroke

Vet West Animal Hospital (2020). Hot Weather – Tips for Keeping Your Cat Cool. Vet West. https://www.vetwest.com.au/pet-library/hot-weather-tips-for-keeping-your-cat-cool

56 comments:

  1. Great tips! When we are doing cat shows during hot weather, my human usually takes some time to turn on the car's A/C to cool it off a bit before loading me in! And we've done the frozen water bottle tip on therapy cat visits.

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  2. Those are all great tips!

    Even here in England it can get very hot.

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  3. I try so hard to talk my grooming clients out of shaving their longhair babies unless they are matted but people can’t get over the fur = hot.

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  4. Very thorough article. The biggest takeaway for us was the shaving part. So many people think they're doing cats a favor by taking off the "hot fur," but that's not true. I hope they read this!! - Tom, Bridget and mom & housekeeper Julie

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  5. As Florida cats, we know how hot it can get, and we practice beating it all the time. This is especially important for Cupcake in the summer when it gets so hot in the car.

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  6. Great tips. Luckily, we have lots of shade and so the cats can get a little cooler. And I keep lots of water everywhere for them

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  7. This was a very good post about how the heat can affect us cats. I am a short haired cat but I am not allowed to go out to my screened-in catio when the heat and humidity are too high here in Missouri.

    Purrrrrrrrrrrs, Spike William

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  8. I keep my cats cool in the summer by giving them plenty of cold water including the water in their fountain. We also have air conditioning in our house, and they can enjoy the cool breezes of the outdoors in our enclosed patio room where we have screens on the windows.

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  9. Great tips! It was August when I moved my cats (and hubby) back to KC from Texas. I found some great little sun shades that clip to the top of the window. They are just like old fashioned roller shades and can be pulled down and raised as needed. They allowed me to keep the back seat shaded for the whole trip.

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  10. Very good tips, we're in Texas and have around the same length of heat each year - the AC does it's work but I'm going to implement some of your suggestions. I just love that water fountain! The giveaway is awesome, thanks to you and Sleepypod for doing this.

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  11. Those really are great and necessary. Our Dad sure tries to keep our ferals comfy during Stupid Hot Season.

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  12. The Farm cats all like the air conditioning that the male human had installed two years ago. That's how they stay cool

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  13. Since we've mostly had short haired cats over the years, and they are indoor only, so it hasn't been that much of a problem for us. However, I do know that even indoors, they can get overheated. We have open beds for them and two fountains. The pump on the main fountain my cats use just went out over the weekend so I'm ordering a new pump. There are always several bowls of water for the dogs that the cats often drink from, too, so they get plenty of water. I know my daughter and her fiance actually get their one long-haired cat a good fur cutting for the summer. She does get really warm otherwise.

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  14. When I worked from the office, I sat in A/C all day!
    Now, working from home, we have a single window unit...and lots of fans.
    The downstairs stays remarkably temperate, but the upstairs can get HOT...which is where Sweetie's Suite is. We'll have to see how this summer progresses, to see if she needs ice cubs in her water or more.

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  15. We have A/C but the upstairs can get hot. We usually have fans running through the house to keep air moving. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  16. We have ACs in 3 of the rooms of my home, with fans right in front of them, pushing the air out. We also have ceiling fans. The blinds/curtains are kept closed unless we absolutely need the light. Rarely turn the lights on in any of the rooms unless we need them. The cats have a water bowl that's always filled. I'd love to get a water fountain for them but I worry about one of my cats ruining it since she likes to scoop water out of dishes. We have a cooling mat thing that's put down if we're right there - worried that their nails will damage it. There's tower fans throughout our home as well.

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  17. My cats always have access to a cooler part of the house that is comfortable for them.. but my hubby likes to put ice in their water dish when it gets really hot.

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  18. Those are good tips and I love that last photo.

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  19. My cats stay cool by chilling by my AC unit!

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  20. Those are all great tips. We have central a/c so my kitties are cool.

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  21. Great research. Ivy has found a great place to snooze where she gets a breeze when the a.c. is on. Our Mozart was the feline sun dial. He would sleep in any sun spot he could find.

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  22. Great posty. We too have lots of longer fur. And it gets really hot here. We have the a/c oon most of the year. Mommy has purrsonal summers and requires a bit of coolin' off herself. And we use ceilin' fans year round. And of course, we luv our cat trees, the bathroom sink, the shower seat in the nwe shower, and the tiled floor. We so want a sleepy pod, we hope we win. Big hugs

    Luv ya'

    Dezi and Raena

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  23. Good info! Most of the living spaces in our new house face west and there’s lots of windows. The hot afternoon sun comes in and really heats things up! The mom does her best to keep blinds closed (where we can) and has ceiling fans going to help keep us cool.

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  24. Excellent info. Lots of good research. The peeps keep the condo 73˚ during the summer. When it's over 90, we keep all the blinds closed and the windows shut cos all they do is let hot air in. In the old unairconditioned house, the cats before me would lay in the tub or under furniture to cool off. The year our ac went busto, TW tried a frozen bottle of water in our bed, but I rejected it. She still has the scars from trying to towel me off with a moist towel.

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  25. Those are all great tips! We follow most of them. Outside, we have lots of shade when we want it. Inside, it is 72 which is good fer us. WE choose where to warm up or cool down. Well, TBT does provide that.

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  26. I have a window AC here in the living room/kitchen area. It doesn't get it as cool as I'd like sometimes, but it definitely helps a great deal! I try to replace the boys' bowls of water more often when it's hot, too.

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  27. I commented on Instagram but, we have air, what a difference that makes from years I've not had air, they find cool plastic or pvc to sleep on! Their cat carriers too. Thanks for the chance.

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  28. Great tips! We have indoor kitties, so they get a/c life, but I often do transport so it’s important to be able to keep everyone at an appropriate temperature.

    Our house is a balance of keeping the Great Pyrenees cool and keeping the kittens warm ;)

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  29. Thank you for the tips! In August we are welcoming home our very first Himalayan kitty and I was wondering how to keep him cool! Our kitties are inside only but do have a catio now. We keep the air blowing most of the time. We have a central air AND two little air cons. Lilah my fuzzy highlander girl loves the small airconditioners.

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  30. I love to travel with my cats. They would enjoy a pod.

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  31. I’ve never thought of putting a water bottle wrapped in a towel in my kitties’ carriers before. I love in Texas, so I may start doing that now!

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  32. All seven of my kitties love slightly chilled goat milk!

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  33. Love the idea of the optional mesh sleepypod insert!!

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  34. Thanks for the tips!

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  35. Luckily we have ac all year round. I do have a outdoor cooling bed for my dogs though which the cats will use occasionally.

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  36. Great tips!

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  37. i keep a fan on the ground, a safety fan, with a cool air humidifier as well. I keep the shades closed as well. sometimes i will put ice cubes in the water

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  38. Air conditioner is on all the time when its hot and have back up generator if electric goes out. But they love their water fountains and the outside feral cats I tend to I put ice in their water a couple times a day and also under our deck is shady and cool but I have some old carpet under there so on hot days that morning I take the hose and water the carpet down so its nice and wet and put a few ice jugs under there so if they want to get close to those to cool off
    sallstun
    at
    hotmaildotcom

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  39. Great tips! I live in a cooler climate, however AC is not provided in our apartment so it can get pretty hot in the middle of the day during the summer. We have the shades closed, windows open to provide air flow plus a floor fan, definitely ice water. We have wood floors and tile so my cat enjoys lying on the floor in the bathroom where it’s cool and dark. She is a long haired cat, so I don’t shave her but I brush her every day as well as trim her belly fur to avoid mats. We do plan on moving to a warmer city in about a year so I will definitely use these tips in both the move and at our new place

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  40. These are such helpful tips, thank you for sharing!
    Dee

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  41. Our cats are so used to very hot weather they know to slow right down and their water fountains keep fresh water available. I tried ice cubes in the water but the looks I got would have chilled your blood! We do not get enough weather for air conditioning though, although in Australia and further north I find a lot of people use it in their homes.

    It is vitally important to monitor your cats and how they are coping with summer heat (although it is winter here and we have the reverse problem).

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  42. I leave my smart thermostat on for my cat but need a Sleepypod for her in the car!

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  43. These are great tips for helping cats stay cool! I am happy to know that Sleepypod offers the stay cool mesh lining. I bet the girls really appreciate it during the summer!

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  44. Excellent tips! Can you tell me why why why my cat loves to sit on the hot pavement, or go into our uncooled room? Your points about travelling -even short distances- with your cat are well-taken and important. Boy, I've been wanting a Sleepy Pod!!

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  45. Hello, I keep my cats cool with the air conditioning haha. -sonia.lazier

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  46. I add ice cubes to the water to encourage drinking in the summer

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  47. Fresh water is the biggest one for me. I have to make sure my pets always have access to fresh water. Even with travel bowls on car rides!!

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  48. Thanks for sharing these wonderful, helpful tips.

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  49. Thank you for sharing. Super informative and helpful.. especially with these hotter months approaching in the south. Gotta keep the babies nice and cool.��

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  50. Great list! We got a rolling/portable AC unit last summer and it makes such a huge difference! Our kitty loves to flop down near it. I also change her water every day year-round anyway, but this is definitely vitally important during the summer months.

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  51. Alfie loves his ice water to cool down during the summer heat. He’s been developing some sun spots on his ears, so we’ve been trying to limit his outdoor time as much as he enjoys it. Please keep him and his health in your thoughts and prayers.

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  52. Good tips. I keep some floorspace clear so they can lay on the tile or wood floors.

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  53. Awesome list and cute cat! There are special brushes to thin out my cat's hair which helps with keeping my cat cool.

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  54. Not sure if my comment went through but I use a special hair thinning brush to keep my cat cool in the summer.

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  55. I keep my cats cool in the summer by giving them plenty of cold water.

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  56. I keep my house air conditioned when it’s hot.

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