How to Keep a Cat Cool in a Car

how to keep a cat cool in a car

You may be wondering how to keep a cat cool in a car when it’s 100 degrees outside?  It’s summertime and it can get hot.  Really hot.  Especially inside of a car.  Cars have a way of trapping heat on the inside.  Have you ever noticed how right when you open your car door a gush of hot air is released?  Then when you step inside it’s almost as if you just entered a sauna.

When traveling with your cat you will need to take some extra precautions to prevent dehydration in your cat.  Here is how to keep a cat cool while traveling in a car.

Properly Hydrate Your Cat Before Getting in the Car

Keeping your cat cool in the car actually starts before you even get inside the car.  It actually starts inside your house.  Before you take your cat out you will want to make sure he is properly prepared for the trip.  Don’t feed him a huge meal before going out because this can attribute to motion sickness.  Simply make sure he is properly hydrated by offering him some water.  If your cat is not thirsty I would still try to encourage him to drink.  Here are a few things you can try to help get your cat to drink some water:

  • Make sure the water is nice and fresh
  • Try putting ice cubes in the water to spark your cat’s interest
  • If your cat enjoys drinking from the sink go ahead and turn the sink faucet on low and put him on the counter
  • Many cats love to drink water from the toilet bowl (I know it sounds gross, but they do it when your not home so what’s the harm?)
  • Some cats really enjoy water fountains because it mimics a sink faucet
  • Try to flavor your cat’s water with something that is safe for cats

Keep Your Cat Cool by Grooming Him Before the Car Ride

The more fur that your cat’s coat has the hotter he will be.  Go ahead and brush your cat’s coat to get rid of any loose fur that may be stuck to your cat.  This is a natural way to help keep him cool all the time and not just for when you travel in a car.

You will be surprised how much fur you can actually get to come off of your cat’s coat if you don’t brush them regularly.  This is something that you can actually incorporate weekly into your cat’s routine, and he will definitely appreciate you for it.

Also make sure to get rid of any mats or tangles in your cats fur.  Having large knots or mats can cause heat entrapment which will then cause your cat’s temperature to rise.  You might need a special cat brush for mats or else you may end up harming your cat from all the tugging and pulling.

If your cat needs a trim then you could even use an electric shaver for cats to get rid of any excess fur or tangles.  This is an excellent way to relieve your cat of unneeded fur that can contribute to and increased body temperature.

The last thing you can do for your cat is to wet his coat.  Take a wash cloth or a small towel and wet it with water.  Gently stroke your cat from head to toe.  Most cats will not mind a little bit of moisture on them once they see how good it feels on them.  This also mimics a natural way that cats try to cool themselves off naturally as well.  This will mimic the effect of when your cat cools himself by grooming when they lick their fur.

Keep Your Cat Cool by Preparing Your Car Before Entering

Before you even take your cat into your car you will have to prepare it.  This means you need to make it the best condition for your cat before you place him in the car.  Go ahead and start your car and immediately turn on the air conditioner.  You will want to let the car air out and cool off.  A car that has been sitting in the sun for an extended period of time can be upwards of 10 degrees hotter than the current weather outside.  This is due to the humidity that gets trapped inside the car.

Take this time to map out the best place to put your cat once he gets in the car.  Make sure your cat is positioned away from the suns rays.  Usually the floor is the best spot to place a carrier, but it also depends on the type of vehicle you have.  Whether it’s the front seat or the back seat you will need to make sure there is enough space if you are bringing a cat carrier.  Clear out any extra items from your car that you do not need.  The more crowded your car is results in less space air has to circulate.  This means take out all your dirty clothes, boxes, trash, or anything else that may have accumulated.

Optimize The Air Circulation For Your Cat In The Car

Once you have securely fastened your cat in your car you will need to make sure he is properly cooled.  Make sure you position air vents towards your cat.  There are so many instances when I get into a friends car and a vent is literally pointing at the ceiling.  Make sure all vents are properly directed for the both of you and anyone else in the car.  Don’t forget to press the air circulate button on your car’s ac unit to help make the air cooler.

Your cat’s carrier should also have proper ventilation.  I advise against using a carrier that only has ventilation mainly in the front.  You will want to use a carrier that has good side and rear ventilation as well.  It may sound like nit-picking, but everything counts when it comes to dissipating heat from your cat and his carrier.

If your car doesn’t have an air conditioner or it’s not working then you will have to do a little improvising.  Make sure all the windows are down to allow for proper circulation of the outside air.  You can even put a small fan in your car that plugs into the cigarette lighter.  This fan can be used to help cool your cat down in the instance where you don’t have an air conditioner.

Use a Window Shade in the Car

Another way to keep your cat cool while traveling in the car is to create shade.  Your car will be the hottest in the areas that are most exposed to the suns rays.  Have you ever heard of the term drivers tan?  Drivers tan happens when your left arm is exposed to the sun while the rest of your body is not.  The hottest parts of your car will vary depending on the time of day and the position of the sun.  Use window shades wherever you deem necessary.

Window shades can come in handy for more than just keeping your cat cool.  Window shades are good to use for babies, kids, and other passengers in your car.  I recommend installing a window shade on both of the rear door windows and as well as the passenger side door window.  Just make sure you do not block your side view mirrors on either side.

Have a Sun Deflector for Your Windshield

Be sure to install a sun deflector for your windshield whenever you leave your car.  This will help keep your car cooler for both entering and returning to your car from traveling.  I personally use one of these in my car during the summertime and it works wonders.  Especially if you have leather seats.  Leather tends to absorb the suns heat more than other fabrics in your car which can even burn you when you sit down.  Having a good sun deflector will help minimize the time your car stays hot while you try too cool it of, and prevent you from burning yourself if you have leather seats.

Make Sure Your Cat Has Access to Water in the Car

Remember earlier how you properly hydrated your cat before traveling?  Well you will also need to make sure he is properly hydrated during the car trip as well.  Make sure his cat carrier has some sort of water source that he can drink when he gets thirsty.  If your cat won’t drink water, but you know he may be dehydrated then you can try to give your cat a small amount of wet food.  Wet food actually has a decent amount of nourishment when it comes to hydrating your cat.  Stay away from dry food since this will only dehydrate your cat more.

If you don’t want anything spilling in your car or the cat’s carrier then I would advise carrying cold water bottles in a cooler with some ice inside it.  Every so often make sure you pull over and give your cat a bowl of cold water to help him re-hydrate.

Try a Cat Sedative Before the Car Ride

Traveling can be very stressful for your cat.  It can cause increased levels of anxiety.  Anxiety can change the way your cat breathes by making him have short and shallow breaths.  Increased anxiety can also cause an increase in resting heart rate.  This means your cat will have trouble breathing, and be spending more energy than normal while just at rest.  Increased heart rate mixed with short shallow breaths can cause your cat to overheat even without a hot summer day.  To help avoid this you can try using a cat sedative while you are traveling.  If you are unfamiliar with how to sedate a cat or how your cat may respond then I recommend that you read my article here about how to sedate a cat for travel.

Use a Cooling Pad in the Car to Keep Your Cat Cool

A cat cooling pad es exactly what it sounds like.  A pad that cools your cat.  Another name for these are thermal pads.  It’s basically a small platform that is cold to help keep your cat cool.  These are very handy when traveling in the car because they are easy to store and which makes them very portable.  You can simply place this inside your cat’s carrier on the bottom.  These pads usually use a gel like substance that will recharge itself so it can cool all over again.  This makes it perfect for travel.  You don’t need a power source to operate these cooling pads which is very convenient.

A cat cooling pad is also a great item to use around the house.  You can place it in your cat’s favorite places where he likes to sleep or nap.  It would be best to get your cat used to using an item like this before abruptly introducing it to them.  If you were to place one in their carrier for the first time while driving in a car they may have a bad reaction since they are not used to it.

Travel During Cooler Hours

The last thing you can do to keep your cat cool while traveling is going out in cooler weather.  The hottest time of the day is usually from 12 noon to about 5 pm.  These are the hours in which the sun’s rays are most prominent and potent.  Try to schedule your trips either before this window or after it to avoid the heat wave.  Avoiding this window in the day will alleviate a lot of the heat you will encounter while traveling by avoiding it altogether.

I’m not promising that it will be a lot cooler traveling outside the 12 to 5 window, but it will definitely make a noticeable difference.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your cat cool in a car is pretty simple once you know what to do.  It makes all the difference when you actually know how to prepare your cat as well as have the correct supplies.  You most likely will not have to do all these steps listed above during a colder season like winter, but summer is a different story.  If you are like me and live in California then you know how hot our summer days can get.  Sometimes we are dehydrated without even realizing it.  The best way to treat dehydration is by always keeping yourself hydrated so it never gets to that point in the first place.  Just don’t forget about your cat in the process.

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