Millions of Americans rely on an air conditioning system to keep cool during the dog days of summer, but cats may not find it so easy to cope with these household appliances. Air conditioning is a quick solution to lowering the temperature in your house, but the furrier members of the family may find it harder to live with these common household appliances. Find out how air conditioning can affect your cat, and find out how you can help your feline friends live in harmony with your air conditioning system.
How cats stay cool naturally
Unsurprisingly, cats are generally self-sufficient when it comes to warm weather, and your feline family members have several natural ways to cool down. A cat's normal body temperature can range from 100.5 to 102.5 degrees, so the animals need to find ways to avoid overheating.
To stay cool cats will:
- Stay inactive and avoid getting hotter
- Find a cool, shady place to lurk
- Stretch out to make it easier for heat to escape their bodies
- Lick their fur, as the evaporating saliva creates a cooling effect
If they become really hot, cats can also sweat, but they only have sweat glands in their paw pads and nose. As such, you probably won't notice this sign that your cat is too hot.
Overheated cats can suffer from heat stroke. Symptoms of this condition include panting, drooling, staggering and vomiting. If you see any of these unusual signs, you should take your cat to a vet immediately.
How cats feel about air conditioning
Cats won't always take kindly to an air conditioning unit, especially if the system is new, but these appliances cannot generally harm these animals. In fact, once they grow familiar with the air conditioner, cats will often appreciate the cool air as much as you do.
Nonetheless, air conditioners often make unusual sounds, and this mechanical addition to your home can startle and unsettle feline family members. As such, it shouldn't come as a surprise if your cat immediately runs away as soon as you turn the air conditioner on. If your system is older, it's often worth arranging for an engineer to inspect the unit, as he or she can often fix noisy, rattling parts that may annoy or upset the cat.
A cat will often need time to adjust to an air conditioning installation. It's a good idea to have the system on a lower setting initially, especially if you have particularly sensitive pets. If your cat's usual bedding is near a vent, it's also a good idea to move everything to a different place in the room, or you may deter the cat from sleeping in his or her favorite place.
Cats can generally cope with hotter conditions than other animals, but you should still make sure rooms have proper ventilation during hotter days if you decide not to leave the air conditioner on. You should also make sure your cat can find cooler, shady parts of the house. Before you go out, check you don't inadvertently trap the cat in a closed space.
Cats and air conditioning – the downside
Cat shedding is a perfectly normal phenomenon. Wild cats shed their coats twice a year, and you should expect the same situation with domesticated animals. That aside, heating and air conditioning systems can cause cats to shed all the time, which leaves you with a constant layer of unwanted hair to clean up.
Cat owners can control shedding in several ways. Brushing your cat once a week can help you keep shedding under control, and regular (monthly) baths with a special soap-free shampoo can also keep the animal's skin in top condition. A high-quality, healthy diet can also cut down on shedding, particularly if the cat eats a lot of foods high in omega fatty acids.
It's also a good idea to suddenly avoid cranking the air conditioner up or down. Try to keep up a constant temperature throughout the house, and make sure the thermostat on your air conditioning system works properly.
Regularly cleaning the house is also essential. The dander (or dead skin) that your cat sheds can easily cause allergic reactions, particularly in young children. In fact, cats cause more allergic reactions than other pets. As such, you should also regularly change the allergen filter in your air conditioning system. Contact a local air conditioning repair business for more advice.
Air conditioning systems help keep the house cool in summer, and most cats will eventually get used to these useful appliances. That aside, you should always help your cat find other ways to keep cool and let the animal naturally adjust to the air conditioning in his or her own time.