How to Keep Your Cat Cool in the Car

How to keep your cat cool in the car

What if you need to take your cat somewhere on a hot day, whether it’s a short ride to the vet or a longer trip to visit a family member? Sometimes, leaving your cat alone for an extended period is not an option, so you bring them along. However, ensuring a comfortable journey can be challenging for yourself and your feline companion.

To keep your cat cool during the car ride, you must make some preparations before you step inside the vehicle. These preparations begin in your own home. Before taking your cat out, ensure they are adequately prepared for the trip. Start your car and promptly turn on the air conditioner. If the car’s interior temperature is cool, you can safely place your cat inside.

In this blog post, I will address how to keep your cat cool in the car. I will discuss how cats handle the heat, provide tips on preparing for a car ride on a hot day, and recommend essential items to take with you on your journey.”

Cats and Warmth

Before embarking on a trip with your cat, it’s valuable to understand how cats respond to and cope with different conditions. It’s uncommon for cats to fall ill solely due to warmth. For the average cat, an ambient temperature of around 22 °C (72 °F) is considered ideal. Research suggests that domestic cats are descendants of a mix of at least three related wild cat types:

  • the African wildcat (Felis silvestris libyca)
  • the desert cat (Felis margarita)
  • the swamp cat (Felis chaus)

Cats are inherently adapted to desert environments. The physiology of their ancestors was shaped for survival in arid regions, and these adaptations are still apparent in domestic cats today. Cats have a low thirst drive and obtain most of the moisture they need from the animals they consume. They are also adept at managing their body temperature. Cats tend to sleep more during the day and prefer to be active during the cooler hours of the night.

When faced with high temperatures, cats naturally seek out cool spots and become less active. It is crucial for cats always to have access to fresh drinking water, and this becomes even more important during periods of elevated heat. The female cat enjoys lounging on a sunlit chair, savoring the warmth. However, she occasionally takes a brief break to satisfy her appetite.

cat is on the chair in the sun

Body temperature

Cats are warm-blooded animals, meaning their body temperature remains relatively stable for optimal functioning. The average body temperature of a cat ranges between 38 and 39.5 °C (100.4 and 103.1 °F). However, their temperature can increase by 0.5 to 1.0 °C (0.9 to 1.8 °F) due to stress or physical exertion. Cats have a remarkable tolerance for high temperatures and can even thrive in extremely hot conditions. However, this tolerance can make them less sensitive to heat, putting them at risk of overheating, such as when their fur comes into contact with a heat source. As a responsible owner, it’s important to be cautious if you have a fireplace or stove to prevent any accidental burns that your cat may not feel or react to

Preparations to Keep Your Cat Cool in the Car

When traveling with your cat by car, there are several preparations you can make to ensure a smoother journey for both you and your feline companion. These tips can help manage the challenges of traveling in the heat.

  1. Park your car in a shaded area the night before the trip.
  2. Keep in mind that most cats are naturally playful and active. It’s best not to engage in playtime or let the cat exert excessive energy before the journey. The less energy the cat expends, the better it can tolerate the heat.
  3. Bring a bath towel that can be hung in front of the window if it’s extremely hot. This helps prevent direct sunlight from entering the car and keeps the interior cooler for your cat.
  4. Ensure you have a filled drinking bowl and a bottle of tap water for your cat’s hydration needs during the trip.
  5. Before the journey, freeze bottles of water. On the day of travel, you can wrap them in towels and place them in the cat’s travel basket to provide additional cooling.
  6. Freeze some ice packs as well. The next day, you can wrap an ice pack in a towel and place it in the travel carrier to help maintain a cool environment.
  7. Place your cat’s bed, blanket, or a familiar towel in the car’s back seat. The scent of your cat on these items will create a more comforting and familiar atmosphere for them.
  8. If your car is equipped with air conditioning, ensure the coolant is topped up. An empty coolant reservoir will cause the air conditioning to stop functioning.

Following these preparations can create a more comfortable and safe environment for your cat during the car journey. Remember, their well-being is a priority.

Cat Car Travel

Most cats prefer to avoid traveling. They are creatures deeply attached to their territory and can feel vulnerable and stressed in unfamiliar environments. While dogs often enjoy being with the family, exploring new places, and venturing into unknown areas, cats prefer the comfort of their familiar surroundings.

If you plan to travel with your cat by train, car, or plane, ensuring their safety and comfort in a suitable travel carrier is crucial. Keep your cat in the carrier until you reach your destination, allowing them time to acclimate to the new environment.

It’s essential to consider both the departure and destination locations’ weather conditions in warmer weather. Some places may be hotter or colder than others. If the temperature is high, choose a travel carrier that allows for good airflow. Avoid tightly squeezing the carrier between, for example, two car seats, as this restricts air circulation and causes the cat to warm more quickly.

Ensure the travel carrier has sufficient air openings to allow fresh air inside. During the car ride, leaving a window partially open is important, allowing fresh air to enter and circulate through the car. If your vehicle has air conditioning, it can be used, but be mindful not to direct the cold air directly at the cat, as this may cause discomfort

Keep your cat cool in the car

A list of supplies that are useful to take with you:

  • Coolant for air conditioning
  • Portable air conditioning unit and fan
  • Bottles of water
  • Fresh drinking water
  • Ice packs
  • Bath towel
  • Travel drinking bowl
  • Cat towel

Cat Stress and Heat

Most cats cannot cope well with stressful events. Stress can lead to behavioral and physical problems in cats. Unlike humans, who can often recognize stress, it can be challenging to identify stress in cats, especially in its early stages.

Stress is a physical response to an uncontrollable or unpredictable situation. The body prepares for fight or flight, resulting in increased heart rate, accelerated breathing, redirected blood flow to the muscles, and the release of additional energy.

When humans experience stress, they often feel warmer as their bodies work harder. Short-term stress can be beneficial and not necessarily unhealthy, as it enhances alertness and enables immediate action in critical situations. Cats also exhibit similar reactions to stress, although each cat may show different symptoms.

While various symptom lists exist, increased body temperature is not typically associated with stress in cats. Suppose your cat finds car travel stressful, particularly on a hot day. In that case, you need not worry about the stress causing increased body temperature. However, it is essential to monitor your cat closely, as individual cats may react differently.

Suppose you believe your cat is significantly distressed or exhibiting pronounced stress symptoms. In that case, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian for proper evaluation and guidance.

Points of Attention

Cats cannot sweat like humans do. While humans have numerous sweat glands, cats have very few. Cats can only sweat through their paw pads, which means they have a less efficient method of dissipating heat and are prone to overheating. This is particularly true for overweight cats or those with short snouts, such as Persians, as they are at an increased risk of overheating. Kittens and older cats also face additional risks.

Preventing overheating is crucial, especially on hot days, as animals can suffer severe consequences, including death, from excessive heat. Never leave a pet unattended in a car, as the temperature inside can soar to 50 degrees Celsius within 10 minutes. Even with a cracked window, the car does not provide enough cooling. Always ensure your cat can access drinking water to help regulate their body temperature.


How to keep your cat cool in the car? This question now has an answer. When traveling with your cat on a hot day, being well-prepared is essential. Just like humans, cats require special precautions in warm and sunny weather. While cats enjoy warmth, the risk of heat-related disorders increases as temperatures rise. Remember, never leave your cat unattended in a car. If it’s hot, use a travel carrier that allows for good airflow.

I hope your cat enjoys warm weather and basking in the sun. If you know someone with cats who wants to learn how to keep their feline friend cool in the car, feel free to share this post.


By Marleen

Marleen is a truly madly deeply cat lover and founder of That Is for My Cat. She wants to share her knowledge about cats with other people who like to know more about cats.


  1. Need to take my cat to the vet. My truck has no air conditioning . The outside temp is 92-95 degrees (f) . Is it safe for my cat to travel in these conditions or should I wait fo cooler weather ? She is a little overweight also.

  2. I have a question I’m planning on moving with my cat in the car I’m moving to port Charlotte Florida how can I keep my cat cool when I’m the only one in the car and I’m driving what do I do if I have to leave the car to go to the bathroom and it’s just me driving and I’m the only one in the car

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